Art And Fashion

The Fashionable Women of Pan Yuliang

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Self-Portrait (1936), Pan Yuliang via Artnet.com

Pan Yuliang (1895-1977) was a Chinese Modernist artist known for her female nudes. Although Yuliang’s work is often praised for its lack of clothing, some of her artwork and self-portraits feature feminine fashions from the early to mid-20th century. These images not only display clothing but also reveal two cultures that identified the artist: one of birth and the other of refuge.

Early Life

Yuliang’s life began as an orphan who was sold into sex slavery at the age of 14. She was then ‘bought’ by a general who made her his second wife. The man encouraged her to paint, which lead her to attend the prestigious Shanghai Art School.

Yuliang found success after returning to China, but the nudity in her artwork caused some scandal. She left China in 1937 after the Japanese invasion and sought refuge in Paris. There, she continued to work as an artist until her death in 1977. She left a legacy as a renowned artist whose work continues to garner exhibitions and international auctions.

The Yuliang Beauty

Yuliang’s art was noted by art historian Phyllis Teo as a “flux of transformations where conflicting dichotomies of East and West, tradition and modernity, male chauvinism and emerging feminism co-existed.” Her clothed figures were feminine and were created in an idealized image: well-manicured young women in brightly colored qipao blouses and dresses with heavily applied makeup.

Beauty ideals before Yuliang’s departure from China went from Western-inspired Hollywood actors to the farm workers popularized by Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. As Mao gained power, the farmer became both the political and cultural ideal. Bare face, tan skin, and the utilitarian Zhongshan suit became the new way of adornment for Chinese women, which was meant to deconstruct notions of class, gender, and Western influence.

Yuliang’s Women

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Girl Playing Violin, Pan Yuliang via Artnet.com
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Jeune Femme au Kimono, Pan Yuliang via Artnet.com

“In Girl Playing Violin” (no date), the seated young woman looks upward with a closed smile while holding a violin. The woman has a chin-length hairstyle and lightly applied makeup. She is wearing a Western, billowy white blouse and black ensemble that appears as either a black jumper or sleeveless dress.

“Jeune Femme au Kimono” (no date) also portrays the image of a seated young woman, but she is adorned in Eastern fashions. The woman is wearing a black, embroidered qipao jacket over a sea green, silver-flecked dress. Her hair is curled and pinned, and her face is heavily rouged with over-plucked eyebrows and painted red nails.

Yuliang’s Self-Portraits

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Self-Portrait Dressed in Black (1940), Pan Yuliang via Sothebys.com 

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Window Self-Portrait, Pan Yuliang via Artnet.com

Similar to the figures she created in her artwork, Yuliang also presented an international wardrobe of both Eastern and Western pieces in her self-portraits. Her “Self-Portrait Dressed in Black” (1940) features the artist in a black qipao gown with dragon detail along the shoulders and collar. She styled her hair in a half pinned, bisected style with makeup that evokes a formal or special occasion.

Yuliang’s “Window Self-Portrait” (no date) contrasts the previous piece with a short-sleeved red day dress and a contrasting pointed collar. She accessorized the look with a red pearl necklace and hair styled in victory rolls. The outfit appears in a 1940s Western style, which corresponds with her refuge to France in the late 1930s.

Since there is a lack of information concerning both her self-portraits and her other work, there is no way to make an assumption that she chose to forgo Eastern dress after her asylum to France or vice versa. What can be seen is that Yuliang and her women appear as stylish figures who have power and confidence, no matter the origin of their dress.

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Art And Fashion

The Elaborate, Yet Minimalist, Fashions Of Louise Bourgeois

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Although certain styles of clothing are either excessive or restrictive, there are many that fit in between. Take for example the wardrobe of French artist Louise Bourgeois. The personal style and work of artist Louise Bourgeois was a combination of loud visual statements paired with minimalist silhouettes.

A famous example in Bourgeois’ work can be seen in her 1978 performance piece A Banquet/A Fashion, Show of Body Parts, The performance was centered on restrictive and tubular costumes decorated with three-dimensional additions.

Bourgeois had a fondness for textile art. She traced this appreciation to her childhood in her family’s tapestry restoration workshop. “Clothing is…an exercise of memory…,” said Bourgeois. “It makes me explore the past…how did I feel when I wore that…”

Like her art, Bourgeois’ personal style during her later years embraced a balance between volume with restrictive shapes and silhouettes. When posing for a photograph for Robert Mapplethorpe, the artist wore an oversized black fur coat, a parted ponytail, and famously, her art piece Fillette. In 2009, the artist was captured by photographer Alex Van Gelder wearing an oversized fur coat with a tight, form-fitting beanie and plain black smock.

The Stylish Impact of Louise Bourgeois

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Simone Rocha A/W 2015 RW via Kim Weston Arnold/Indidigitalimages.com for Vogue.com

Bourgeois’ textile work has influenced more than just the fine art world. Womenswear fashion designer Simone Rocha sourced the artist’s 1978 performance piece for her Autumn/Winter 2015 show. Rocha took direct reference from Bourgeois’ A Banquet/A Fashion, Show of Body Parts costumes by having the models walk down the runway in distorted silhouettes with three-dimensional accents. Alike Bourgeois’ own fashion sense, Rocha’s collection paired ornate touches with restrictive long sleeves, high necks, one-armed capes, and hair wrapped around the models’ necks.

Rocha also channeled Bourgeois’ eye for tapestry and harmonious sewing. The heavy, thick hand of Rocha’s textiles constricted movement and wrapped around the body, all while displaying decorative patterns.

“I always found the way she styled herself fascinating. She was the wife of a historian – she circulated in one group which dressed in that way – but she was also an artist. You see these polarities in her wardrobe reflecting the really different identities she had,” Rocha said about Bourgeois to Jerry Gorovoy in the article, Simone Rocha On Louise Bourgeois. “The most profound thing she ever said was, ‘Clothes are about what you want to hide’.”

For more on the art of Louise Bourgeois, visit a collection of her work here.

Art And Fashion

Australia’s Abstract Fashions

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Below are a few designers who took Aussie fashion into fabulous abstraction.

Mary Shackman (1960s- Today)

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Patchwork Coat by Mary Shackman (1965-1966), Powerhouse Museum

Textile artist Mary Shackman created pieces for some of the top fashion designers of the 1960s. Mary began designing and screenprinting textiles in 1965, and sold hand-painted and printed textiles to department stores, fashion designers and boutiques. Her work is noted for its emphasis on nature scenes in square and pixel shapes.

 

 

 

 

 

Jenny Kee (1960s- Today)

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Opal Designs, Jenny Kee via Jenny Kee.com

Fashion designer Jenny Kee also brought eye-catching patterns and colors to Australian fashion.

Kee was born in Bondi and got her start in fashion as a model. In 1965, she moved to England and became involved in the Swinging London scene. While in London, Kee sold bohemian and vintage clothing, including cast-off Diors, and Indian embroideries at the Chelsea Antique Market.

After London, Kee returned to Australia in the early 1970s and opened the boutique, Flamingo Park. She understood the importance of the then underlooked young female customer, a demographic that is a major focus today. Also during this time, Kee collaborated with fashion and textile designer Linda Jackson. Together the duo created colorful, fauna and flora printed knitted pieces made from pure Australian wool. One of the duo’s most noteworthy pieces was a knitted koala jumper worn by Lady Diana Spencer, who borrowed it from her then-husband Prince Charles while she was pregnant.

Kee’s own work recalls Australia’s modern art movement. According to her website, the designer draws inspiration from “a passion for nature, to reflect a “strong, spontaneous, bold and optimistic” Australia.” Kee also likes to infuse Aboriginal Australian motifs, Fair Isle patterns, and contemporary art with oversized silhouettes.

Although Kee based her business in Australia, her influence has reached all over the world. Her work has been featured in Vogue Italia and Women’s Wear Daily, and her Opal designs were used by Chanel in 1983.

Kee has had her work featured in numerous museum exhibitions and fashion collections, and she has garnered a number of awards. Today she continues her line through her online store and through a selected assortment of Australian retailers.

Linda Jackson (1970s- Today)

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“Bush Couture” by Linda Jackson, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 

Just like Jenny Kee, fashion and textile designer Linda Jackson brought art to Australian fashion. Jackson is known for her store Bush Couture, which sought inspiration from Indigenous cultures around the world.

Jackson is considered a pioneer for not only exploring, but also highlighting, Australian cultures and nature. On her work, Jackson has said, “My rainbow of inspirations came from interpreting things I love the outback colors and shapes, the sea, music, the Opera House, leaves, colors in wildflowers and opals. One would progress into the next.”

Much of Jackson’s work includes Australian animals and plants overtop colorful and graphic prints. Her pieces were sold all over the world, including a store in LA owned by Aussie Olivia Newton. Now Jackson’s clothing can be found in art galleries and museum collections. The National Gallery in Canberra has the designer’s wildflower dresses and the Victorian National Gallery has some of Jackon’s opal and wildflower collections.

Bronwyn Bancroft (1980s)

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Cycle Of Life Opera Cape (1987) by Bronwyn Bancroft, Powerhouse Museum via IBM

Aboriginal fashion designer Bronwyn Bancroft began her design career with a shop in Sydney called Designer Aboriginals. There she sold her own clothing and textiles and staffed her store with Indigenous female students.

In 1987 Bancroft, designer Mini Heath, and Aboriginal artist Euphemia Bostock were invited to exhibit their designs in Paris for the Printemps’ Fashion Parade. The trio had young Aboriginal girls modeling their clothing and Bancroft showed her signature painted cloths.

Through telling stories and displaying symbols on traditional Western styles, Bancroft’s work is seen as a representation of a “contemporary perspective on the family, politics and the natural environment.” Bancroft now works as an artist and is known for her children books.

Katie Pye (1970s- 1990s)

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“Bran cusi” by Katie Pye (1981), Powerhouse Museum 

A Sydney native, Katie Pye has established herself as a fashion designer of self-expression. After holding her first fashion parade (fashion show) in the late 1970s, Pye’s work received critical acclaim and was a commercial success for years. Her pieces were sold in high-end boutiques and department stores.

During the 1980s, Pye’s aesthetic mirrored modern Australian art, which combined abstract shapes with classic references. Pye’s pieces are now prized possessions of an experimental time in Australian fashion and can be seen in museum collections across the country.

For more information about Australian fashion designers during this time, check out The Fashion Archives.org, the Powerhouse Museum and or one of the country’s many other fashion museums.

Art And Fashion

Jane Holzer’s Art Scene Style

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When thinking about a Warhol Star, Edie Sedgwick almost always comes to mind. However, there was another girl about town that shined in Andy Warhol’s eye. Meet Jane Holzer.

Recognized for her swoosh of blonde hair and on-trend style, Jane Holzer is a well-known socialite both on and off the New York art scene. Vogue editor Diana Vreeland once dubbed her, “The most contemporary girl I know.”

Born into a wealthy family, Jane entered fashion society in 1963 as a cover model for British Vogue. Sometime during this period, she met Andy Warhol.

Jane appealed to Warhol because of her hip beauty and wealthy connections. Her work with Warhol consisted of performing in a number of his art films, including the iconic “Screen Test,” which filmed Jane brushing her teeth for over four minutes.

After shooting multiple films with Warhol, Jane left The Factory “between Edie’s arrival and when Andy got shot.” Although she has been affiliated with Warhol, Jane isn’t remembered for the extensive drug use and partying that plagued The Factory. She still had an amicable relationship with Warhol until his 1987 death. In 2014, the Norton Museum of Art held the exhibition “To Jane, Love Andy: Warhol’s First Superstar,” that displayed works of art, fashion, and photography of Jane.

Some may identify her with the name Baby Jane, which is a reference to the 1962 film “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?” It was columnist Carol Bjorkman who gave her the moniker, but for no apparent reason. When asked about her opinion of the nickname, Jane has stated that she “wanted to die” after hearing it.

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Jane Holzer’s Clothing via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jane’s style in the 1960s was rock n’ roll on 5th Avenue; it was au courant without excessive embellishments. She mixed classic with sexy by wearing a micro mini dress that covered up to her neck or a long-sleeved bodysuit with a revealing back. When paired with her gravity-defying hair and cat-eye makeup, Jane was a striking figure.

Today, Jane continues to sport her signature blonde mane and now wears loose, bohemian gowns. She is still present on the New York art scene and makes a living as a movie producer. Jane has even been seen on the short-lived reality show “Gallery Girls” as a listening ear to socialites in the New York art scene. Although The Factory’s party has ended, it appears Jane’s is still going strong.