In the beginning of the 2000s there was a recurring discussion about fashion as art in Sweden. I always felt it was both a fascination with fashion coming from the art world, and a longing to be taken seriously that made many fashionistas go arty.
The culmination of the trend came in late 2004 when Moderna museet put on an exhibition called Fashination, blurring the lines between fashion and art and featuring designers such as Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen and Viktor & Rolf, and artists such as Yinka Shonibare who showed a film especially commissioned for the exhibition.
I wrote a piece called ”Konsten klär upp sig” (Art dresses up) for Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter about a group of young artists who made clothing collections under the name Artist Clothing, a project who is still progressing with an exhibition as late as 2009.
These days few people are asking questions like ”Is fashion art?” but more and more of us have started to see that fashion is in many ways an artistic endeavour. But there are still a conversation going on between the two disciplines.
Ulrika Gunnarsdotter was the driving force behind Artist Clothing and as an artist she has continued to explore fashion and clothing. Recently she collaborated with costume designer Magdalena Klašnja, making new folk costumes for three Swedes with roots in former Yugoslavia.
Patrik Söderstam used to be a full time fashion designer (in the early 2000s he was hailed by international magazines like Arena Homme+ as a designer who was reinventing menswear), but he has since then taken his clothes more and more into the realm of art. Recently Söderstam has experimented with disturbing outfits and performances, showing how clothing not only can be used to make the wearer more sexy or beautiful, but also menacing or grotesque.