Welcome to Now You Know, Eric Wilson’s column that will help you become a fashion know-it-all in one quick read. Each week, he’ll take a look at an endearing fashion influence and why it’s relevant right now. Enjoy!
Let’s face it, not everyone is cut out for cutouts. At least not in their current state.
Oh, we can ooh and ah all we want over this year’s nonstop trend among supremely well-toned celebrities for dresses that reveal a little of this, a little of that, through strategically placed panels of nothingness. First it was side cutouts. Then the bare abdomen became the center of attention, thank you very much Kate Hudson, Nicola Peltz, Allison Williams, et al.
But another kind of cutout-inspired fashion is heading your way, one that requires no sit-ups or dieting, a trend that should very well appeal to your brain, as opposed to your bod. Fashion has gone mad for Matisse, specifically his paper cut-outs that are the subject of a blockbuster exhibition that opened at the Tate Modern in London in April and travels to New York for an Oct. 12 opening at the Museum of Modern Art.
Every once in a while, an exhibition captures the attention of a few fashion designers and makes an impact on the trends of a season, but the influence of “Matisse: The Cut-Outs,” has been something else entirely. During the resort collections that were shown this summer (which are sold in stores usually beginning in December), so many designers excitedly mentioned their ideas had been sparked by a visit to the Tate that you half wondered if the museum had offered a designer-discounted admission.
Matisse’s cut-outs, created beginning in the late 1940s, have long fascinated art fans for their vibrant colors and exquisitely simple shapes, and also because, rather than relying on the traditional means of paint upon canvas, he turned to scissors and paper. MoMA’s announcement for the show described them as “a brilliant final chapter in Matisse’s long career, the cut-outs reflect both a renewed commitment to form and color and an inventiveness directed to the status of the work of art, whether as a unique object, environment, ornament, or a hybrid of all of these.”
While the collage-like nature of the works would naturally appeal to designers during a moment of mixed-media experimentation, it may be the sheer size of the exhibition that has caused this case of Matisse on the brain. With around 120 cut-outs on display in London through Sept. 7, and around 100 expected to be shown in New York, it is the largest such exhibition ever mounted.
Among the designers who have name-checked Matisse in recent months are Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein, (pictured, top middle) Thakoon Panichgul (pictured, top right), Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen (pictured, top left) and Paul Andrew, and it is very likely that the bold, eye popping colors of Matisse’s compositions are influencing a similar palette seen in fashion today. Katy Hessel, a young art historian, makes an interesting connection to the fall collection of Raf Simons for Dior, for example. You can read her essay at the blog fashioneditoratlarge.com.
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