In the past, we have looked to other artists’ personal styles to inspire elements of our Collections—Frida Kahlo, Anni Albers, and Georgia O’Keeffe, to name a few. As part of our most recent Signature | Eveningwear Collection, our design team was drawn to the idea of the artist at work—how artists can combine their media, tools, work styles, and artistic vision and (perhaps unknowingly) establish an affecting style that is a direct reflection of their work.
We looked to Barbara Hepworth, who created abstractionist, curvaceous sculptures from stone, wood, and bronze. She became a prominent figure in the Modernist movement and her clothing spoke directly to her lifestyle and work. She utilized messy materials and could not be precious about how she looked while working. Designer Margaret Howell once remarked of her work clothes, “When I had visited her studio in St Ives, the thing that stuck in my mind was the rail of aprons and shirts splattered with plaster of Paris. I liked the colors—indigo, tan, the colors of workwear.”
In order to chisel and paint and mold, she opted for overalls, hooded jackets, and smocks. She looked relaxed and natural; her clothing was a part of her. Inga Fraser, a curator of the Tate Museum once said, “Her early work was all about truth to material, allowing the material to shape the form of the sculpture itself, and her dress represents that. She dedicated herself completely to her art and had no qualms about being photographed in the clothes she wore to work in. It helped her to be taken seriously.”
Other artists like Louise Bourgeois, who, as a child, worked with textiles in her family’s textile business, felt an emotional connection to garments and that was undoubtedly present in her work. “Clothing is…an exercise of memory…,” Bourgeois is quoted by MoMA.org. “It makes me explore the past…how did I feel when I wore that…” She often worked in smocks, but had a distinct personal style outside of the workroom. Even so, her sense of self and sense of fashion were reflected in the simple work garments she chose.
Among our newest garments are the Addison, Georgia, and Iris styles—all inspired by artist smock designs. Our smock style was also inspired by one of Natalie’s personal garments, made by Dries van Noten. These pieces are proof that personal style and work are often intertwined, whether or not the wearer is a “traditional” or celebrated artist. View our Signature | Eveningwear Collection and these smock-inspired garments here.
P.S.: Explore the Journal to discover the lives and work of more incredible women artists.