Posted on: 11/26/2014

Does fashion belong in art galleries?

High-end fashion is cropping up in major art museums across Australia and the world. Michael Cathcart and Anna Frey Taylor investigate the phenomenon of the blockbuster fashion exhibition. The world of haute couture fashion has descended on Australia"s state museums. Across the country, fashion lovers are being treated to a feast of fabrics, sequins and stitching. At the National Gallery of Victoria, viewers can experience The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. The Queensland Art Gallery is currently showing Future Beauty: 30 years of Japanese Fashion and the Art Gallery of South Australia is hosting Fashion Icons: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. As fashion takes hold of the country"s major museums, a question is being raised: Should fashion be classified as art and be exhibited in an art context? Sydney-based artist Tony Albert is tired of seeing fashion exhibited as art. While he appreciates the artistry involved in fashion design, he believes there is a clear distinction between the disciplines. For me, art is challenging and it critiques elements of our society; I dont see that happening within fashion, explains Albert. He says many of today"s fashion exhibitions consist simply of "mannequins wearing dresses". The shows do not take the opportunity to reflect on the broader issues that surround fashion such as the objectification of women and the sizing of garments. Many of the world"s top fashion designers agree that fashion should not be called art. In 2001, Jean Paul Gaultier provocatively stated, Fashion is not art. Never.