Colors & Patterns

Art & Fashion

Words by Camilla Frances
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From the influence of ancient Greek literature on poetry and theatre, to Art Deco architecture inspired by Egyptian motifs, creative minds have always borrowed from the past, or looked to the worlds of art and science for inspiration. Elegant Universe, the latest fabric collection from S. Harris, belongs to this proud tradition. It narrates the story of beauty and romanticism in the natural world through the achievements of an all-female cast of artists and intellectuals, including NASA engineer Tiera Gunn, climate scientist Elisa Palazzi and botanical illustrator Alice Tangerini. Camilla Frances explores some glorious examples of art-inspired textiles.


Lilly Pulitzer x Suzie Zuzek

When Lilly Pulitzer launched her classic shift dresses in the ’60s, few knew their playful nature-inspired prints were the vision of Florida-based artist Suzie Zuzek. The striking collection mixed Zuzek’s imagination and masterful drawing with Pulitzer’s eye for vivid color.

Gustav Klimt, Medicine, (detail) 1901.


Zuhair Murad x Gustav Klimt

The sensual works of painter Gustav Klimt inspired some of the most eye-catching designs in Zuhair Murad’s Fall 2016 collection. Combining the Vienna Successionist movement with his own heavily ornamented creations, Murad presented organza gowns adorned with Klimt-inspired embroidery.


S. Harris x Beatrix Potter

The overscaled vivid-hued florals of S. Harris’ ‘Beatrix Reef’ are embroidered on heavily textured pink linen and surrounded by foliage. The design was inspired by the whimsical watercolors and conservation work of beloved children’s author and natural scientist, Beatrix Potter.


Alexander McQueen x Damian Hirst

To mark the tenth anniversary of his signature skull print scarf, Alexander McQueen looked to the Entomological paintings of Damien Hirst. McQueen’s 2013 collection of silk scarves featured kaleidoscopic patterns of butterflies and insects laid out to form a skull.


Balmain x Fabergé

Originally designed for the Russian royal family, highly decorated Fabergé eggs were the unique inspiration behind Balmain’s Fall 2012 collection. With their intricate and heavily embellished pieces, the French fashion house conjured the luxurious mystique of Peter Carl Fabergé’s creations.

Vincet Van Gogh, Wheat Stacks with Reaper, 1888.


Viktor & Rolf x Van Gogh

The impressionist paintings of Vincent van Gogh were the inspiration behind Viktor & Rolf’s Spring Summer 2015 collection. Structured dresses emblazoned with printed and 3D flowers were paired with huge, deconstructed straw hats, both reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Dutch landscapes.


Gucci x Unskilled Worker

Helen Downie’s distinctive wide-eyed characters existed largely on Instagram when they captivated Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele. A serendipitous meeting followed and Downie – aka Unskilled Worker – soon found her artworks emblazoned on Gucci’s gowns, to critical acclaim.

Henry Moore, Large Square Form with Cut 1969-71.


Burberry x Henry Moore

In 2017, Burberry paid homage to sculptor Henry Moore with a textured, sculpted collection – shot in the gardens of Moore’s former home – that celebrated the artist’s undulating depictions of the female form. Hemlines, neck lines and shoulder lines featured dramatic ruffles and sweeping lines.

Sketch courtesy of Fondation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint Laurent, Paris.


YSL x Piet Mondrian

Yves Saint Laurent’s fascination with Piet Mondrian, whose purity of style he much admired, led to one of the most influential collaborations between fashion and art: Saint Laurent’s 1965 Fall-Winter collection, featuring cocktail dresses in Mondrian’s signature color blocking pattern.


Versace x Julie Verhoeven

For her 2009 Spring collection, Donatella Versace asked British fashion illustrator Julie Verhoeven to reimagine Versace’s iconic branding. Verhoeven’s characteristically whimsical design mixed vibrant watercolors of Versace’s Medusa with hand-drawn sketches, florals, pop colors and scalloped shells.

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