Art Nouveau and Fashion

Last semester I spent a good bit of time researching the Art Nouveau movement from the 1880s into the early 1900s. To give you a brief synopsis of what Art Nouveau was: a group of people who were fed up with art only being a sculpture or painting in the "holy" white walled galleries and believed that everything in your life should be a piece of art; the chair that your sitting on, the wallpaper in your home, the lamp that you use everyday and the clothing on your back. You should make yourself and everything in your life into a work of art. 

“Appearance became more and more mixed up with identity. It was the beginnings of the idea of the Self as a Work of Art, the ‘personality’ as something that extended to dress, scent and surroundings, all of which made an essential contribution to the formation of ‘self’ make oneself a work of art.” 

"In urban society, clothes are the poster for one’s act. In the pre-industrial world clothes were the badge of rank, profession or trade. As classes fragment we revert to a state in which our clothes once more informally define us. Fashion is one among many forms of aesthetic creativity which make possible the exploration of alternatives. 

For after all, fashion is more than a game; it is an art form and a symbolic social system.

Once literacy and a rich vocabulary of visual, aural and dramatic expressions exist, then society has a permanently available….resource in which all the tabooed, fantastic, possible and impossible dreams of humanity can be explored in blueprint."

These quotes come from Adorned in Dreams by Elizabeth Wilson. A gender studies/sociology/media art theorist book on fashion broken down into many different contexts in which to study it. You will be seeing a good portion of my posts influenced by this book since I just finished it and am exploding with information and thoughts on Wilson's comments on the fashion industry in comparison to the art industry. Today's focus however is on how clothing and style have become extensions of the Art Nouveau movement that officially ended around the 1910s but unofficially has never really died. I am a strong believer in the philosophy of making yourself into a work of art. Not that you should become obsessed with materialism or vanity but that you should try to live your life with style, passion and uninhibited expression. You should question the world around you and yourself all the time but never live in fear. And if you should find fear in your life exude that through dance, music, clothing, words, designs, whatever your medium may be express it outrageously and it will be beautiful simply for its genuineness.