Editorial Imitates Art: A Look at Fashion's Interpretation of Great Works
From early Netherlandish portraiture to sixties pop, art is fertile ground for fashion editorials. In a recent spring editorial for El Pais's fashion supplement, SMODA, Eugenico Recuenco recreated Picasso’s cubistic renderings of avant-garde dream girls Dora Maar and Nusch Éluard. That said, photographers and stylists have paid winking homage to famous artworks for decades. In 1999, Steven Meisel famously cast Nicole Kidman in an array of portraits by the Gilded Age’s favorite society painter John Singer Sargent, including the enigmatic “Madame X.” The chameleon-like Julianne Moore inhabited the canvases of artists including Amedeo Modigliani, Richard Prince, and John Currin for Harper's Bazaar. And for W magazine’s November 2011 Art issue, art-world prankster Francesco Vezzoli recreated François Boucher’s portrait of Madame de Pompadour, casting Nicki Minaj as the royal mistress.
The Pre-Raphaelites — with their proclivities for ethereal costume, beautiful women, and picturesque outdoor settings — are natural fashion fodder, while the decorative extravagance and artful obscenity of the Vienna Secession has inspired a slew of Klimt- and Schiele-themed photo spreads, such as Richard Burbridge's portrait of Lily Cole. Manet's Impressionist masterpiece “Le déjeuner sur l'herbe” inspired Meisel for Vogue, again, in 2007. Mike Ruiz’s editorial for Zink magazine paid homage to Roy Lichtenstein’s comic-book heroines, complete with bouffant wigs and Ben-Day dots. On the flip side, Carter Smith’s 1998 spread for Vogue channeled the nostalgic folksiness of American regionalist painter Andrew Wythe. The trend for artsy editorials is so pervasive that artists Mickalene Thomas and Alex Prager appropriate the conventions of fashion photography when they parody themselves in editorial spreads, creating a feedback loop between the worlds of art and fashion.