Can You Guess Which 7 Artists Are Most Influencing Today’s Fashion Designers?

Including Piet Mondrian, Rachel Comey, Marni, Ettore Sotsass, and more.

Art and fashion have a long history of influencing each other, so it comes as no surprise that during the Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear shows, there was some fertile cross-pollination on display.

From Minimalism to Modernism, from soft romantic palettes to bold geometric shapes, there was a wide array of art movements on the runway this year. Below are a few highlights seen throughout fashion month, and a selection of which artists seem to be at the forefront of designers’ minds right now.


Left: Hiroyuki Hamad, Untitled Painting 008 (2015). Courtesy of Lori Bookstein Fine Art. Right: Hellessy Spring/Summer 2015. Courtesy of Trend Privé Magazine.

Kicking off New York Fashion Week, Hellessy held their presentation in Chelsea at Lori Bookstein Fine Art, coinciding with the gallery opening of the show “Hiroyuki Hamada: Paintings.”

In this  fitting pairing, both artist and designer focused on a high level of craftsmanship with a strong visual narrative. In his new exhibition, artist Hiroyuki Hamada has ventured outside of his normal medium, sculpture, into painterly geometric abstraction. The work of Hamad and Hellessy complemented each other, with striking silhouettes in a dark palette of black, grey, and beige.


Left: Piet Mondrian, Composition Avec Rouge, Jaune et Bleu (1921). Right: Lisa Perry Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear . Courtesy of Vogue.

It’s easy to see that designer Lisa Perry’s primary color-heavy spring line takes inspiration directly from Modernist master Piet Mondrian. Mondrian used color and line as a means of enlivening and experimenting with the canvas as an ongoing plane, and Lisa Perry’s mod aesthetic definitely follows suit: from the catwalk set to the bold lines of the clothes themselves, this collection reflects the clean, functional aesthetic of early 20th century abstract painting.


Left: Leonardo Drew, Number 135D (2012). Courtesy of Pearl Lam Galleries. Right: Rachel Comey Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear. Courtesy of Vogue.

Leonardo Drew is an artist concerned with tactility, with a distinctly earthy quality to his work resulting from his casual mélange of painting, printmaking, and sculpture. Much like Drew’s mottled and organic compositions, Rachel Comey’s spring collection is full of earth tones, soft shapes, and subtle pops of color.

At first glance her collection may seem deceptively simple, but it is the structural details that recall Drew’s techniques. The collection is invitingly textural—similar to the way that you want to touch Drew’s work and find out what’s made of—and many of Comey’s chosen fabrics appear weathered, much like Drew’s pieces that seem to be in a constant state of decomposition.


Left: Gustave Moreau, Salomé au jardin (1878). Right: Rodarte Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear. Courtesy of Vogue.

A pastiche of lace, embroidery, silk, and beading evokes the symbolist aesthetic of the 19th century French painter Gustave Moreau. The artist’s powerful and erotic works are conjured by the sensual, deep necklines and dreamy, sheer fabrics displayed on Rodarte’s runway this season. Recalling traditions of mysticism and decadence, Rodarte’s ornamental hemlines, rich textures, and Romantic themes synthesize emotion and form with contemporary flair.


Left: Ettore Sotsass, Casablanca (1981). Courtesy of Urban Architecture Inc. Right: Marni Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear. Courtesy of Vogue.

If the Memphis design group’s aesthetic could be translated into a fashion style, then Marni’s spring 2016 presentation would come pretty close. The Memphis group was formed in 1980 by Italian designer Ettore Sotsass with the goal of breaking away from the rigid aesthetic dogma championed by Modernism. Memphis designers created whimsical objects inspired by Pop Art and Art Deco, using bright colors and kitsch.

These objects scream at you to notice them, and Marni’s latest collection produces a similar thrill. With a mix of bright monochromatic shapes and the scattered use of Pop-inspired prints, the ethos of the Memphis group is very much felt in this vibrant collection.


Left: Mary Cassatt, The Fitting (1890–1891). Courtesy of Harris Schrank Fine Prints. Right: Erdem Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear. Courtesy of Vogue.

Mary Cassatt’s Impressionist style is undeniably evoked by Erdem’s spring collection. Tight-fitting bodices, lightweight fabric, and flowing skirts are seemingly borrowed from the artist’s 19th century American fashions. Cassatt’s pastel colors and depictions of the “New Woman” are reflected in Erdem’s show, showcasing the “New Woman” of today and creating a dialogue with the past.


Left: Beatriz Milhazes, Picnic. Courtesy of Hamburg Kennedy Photographs. Right: Manish Aurora Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear. Courtesy of Vogue.

Beatriz Milhazes is a Brazilian artist known for her vibrant colors and elaborate patterns. As part of the Pattern and Decoration Movement, she was focused on creating whimsical designs, evident in her dynamic paintings and prints. Milhazes’ eye-catching works make quite the visual impact, similar to the dazzling display of Manish Aurora’s latest show in Paris. When looking at Manish Aurora’s striking collection, filled with bright colors and psychedelic patterns, one can not help but be reminded of this artist’s spirited works.

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