Trend Watch: The Collision of Fashion & Art in Poland
#photography & visual arts
small, Trend Watch: The Collision of Fashion & Art in Poland, A dress by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, after 2000, photo: CSW Toruń, _dsc0958.jpg
High-end clothing displayed alongside modern Polish paintings? A curious exhibition in Toruń is just one example of a recent mini-wave that has appeared over the last few months in Poland, where ties between fashion and art are being explored and celebrated.
Garments next to artworks
In the city of Toruń, at the local Centre of Contemporary Art, there are now 44 high-end garments on display. What’s most unusual about it is that they’re juxtaposed with modern Polish paintings from the museum’s collection. The exhibition, entitled Spotted Dotted, opened on 25th October and will run until 1st January.
Among the artworks are pieces by influential artists like Leon Tarasewicz or Jan Berdyszak. The clothes have purposely been chosen not to be of the wildly extravagant kind that can be worn exclusively on the catwalk, but rather embody perfected functionality and class. They come from a private collection called Muzealne Mody (Museum Fashion – ed.) that includes apparel by noted designers like Dior, Balenciaga and Miyake.
The collection, mainly made up of items from the second half of the 20th century, is the work of Piotr Szaradowski, a fashion design lecturer at the School of Form in Poznań, and art and culture historian Mateusz Kozieradzki. While Szaradowski brings to Spotted Dotted his interests in displaying clothes in museums and the history of haute couture, Kozieradzki complements these with his expertise in the field of art. The duo are keen to show what artists and designers have in common. Rather than creating yet another exhibit on how art influences fashion, the duo set up kind of a dialogue between the garments and artworks that revolves around formal devices like composition, shape and rhythm.
‘Forces you to think’
According to its organisers, Spotted Dotted is the first exhibition in Poland to talk about the likeness of modern paintings and high-end clothing. It’s divided into six sections, all devoted to a particular theme, e.g. outlining the silhouette, the power of colour. The first exhibits, two large-scale paintings by Katarzyna Tretyn-Zečević almost literally show how art and tailoring intertwine – they include sewed elements. Further on, in an area dedicated to the role of space, you can see Japanese garments that seem as flat as a table top, juxtaposed with Jan Berdyszak’s quasi-three-dimensional paintings. In another room, white walls and mannequins contrast with black dresses to better show how they shape the wearer’s silhouette. A linocut presenting a human figure provides context. The exhibition ends with a huge, colourful painting by Leon Tarasewicz that’s by a row of coloured dresses – a finale that shows, in quite an impressive way, how strong a sensation colour can be.
Stacja Kultura, a popular radio show on Polish Radio’s Czwórka station, declared the exhibition one that ‘forces you to think about what clothes design is and how much it has in common with art’.
A haute couture benchmark
Interestingly, this autumn has seen another first in Poland’s fashion world. A new literary benchmark on haute couture entitled Francja Elegancja (Frenchly Elegant – ed.) was published on 26th October. Written by the aforementioned Piotr Szaradowski, this non-fiction literature publication portrays the history of haute couture from 1858, the times of its founding father Charles Frederick Worth, until today. The richly illustrated book contains plenty of interesting information about things like classic models or the links between clothes design and belle epoque theatre (the question whether an English version will appear remains open).
David Lynch looms into view
The passing season also saw the launch of a new Polish fashion collection referencing David Lynch’s cult TV series Twin Peaks. Called Fire Walk With Me, the collection features decorative elements inspired by the totem poles that appear in the series as well as translucent dresses that bring to mind water nymphs. Its creator, Mariusz Przybylski once a student of the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź, is currently considered one of the most talented Polish designers.
polish fashion design
So is this the start of a new trend? It remains to be seen, but certainly for both fashion and art enthusiasts, their passions are being linked in a worthwhile manner that had previously been under-represented in Poland.