Is Literature a Fashion Muse?

Vika Strawberrika - Unsplash

Art cannot develop in isolation because other influences of life are always involved. Fashion culture is not an exception. The works of fiction have always had a significant impact on the luxury fashion industry. As new literature directions developed and appeared in different eras, every fashion magazine drew inspiration from them and created something new. For example, let’s get back to the Middle Ages. Imagine a girl from that time; dancing with a prince in a miniskirt isn’t easy. It is also difficult to imagine that lush corsets would be expected now. Each era had its muses.

“Are Clothes Modern?”

To start, Dior presented the overwhelmingly dark collection in their Fall and Winter 2019/20. It can even be called gothic. It was a show of Haute Couture, and all designs were made in classic Dior style. There was a corseted bodice culminating in a nipped-in waistline and a dramatic skirt, which was packed. The collection was demonstrated on the podium. Also, many other dark and even black outfits, lace panels, and dresses with ballon skirts. The collection could be called the epitome of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s “Generation Black.”

The show opened with a girl in a flowing Grecian-style cream dress with the words “Are Clothes Modern?” written on it. It was like a running motif that posed bewildering questions. It was contested by the conservative hemlines, classic, and old-fashioned silhouettes. The one question was at the forefront of onlookers’ minds when they looked at the “Are Clothes Modern?” collection. 

Christian Dior Paris Fashion Week Fall Winter 2019/20
Christian Dior Paris Fashion Week Fall Winter 2019/20 (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Literature and fashion combined in Chirui’s collection. She knows how to spread a message to people. The Spring 2017 “We Should All Be Feminists” line is also a good example. This conveyed to people that literature, as a muse for fashion, creates beautiful and unique themes.

Literature as a Central Subject of Fashion

Generally, it seems that literature has always played a central role in fashion. Literature as a muse for fashion is like travel as a muse for writing. Designers could read the works and be inspired by the images of various characters. Writing and clothing embody people’s culture. The only difference is that fashion materializes before us, while literature is more of an imagination process. One cannot fail to say that clothing is an essential aspect of books. One might check Macbeth’s essay examples to find more information about classic books and fashion on the Internet. Understandably, a person can better imagine the character through the outfit. Therefore, it is worth considering several influential moments when literature and fashion collided.

Virginia Woolf

The woman said dresses have more important functions than just keeping us warm. It is clothes and fashion that alter our view of the world and the world’s view of us. It helps us to express our personality. She wrote a story about a nobleman dressed in furs and lace who effortlessly traveled through time. The man never grew old. This novel was very successful despite the unusual topic for the writer. Later, some well-known brands mentioned this piece in their womenswear shows. Fashion designers said that the work inspired them to create some images.

Virginia often wrote about topics Woolf’s contemporaries were not yet ready for: feminism, politics, gender identity, and social roles. In similar ways, in the novel “Orlando,” the writer touched upon the role of clothing in the process of people’s perception of each other.

Oscar Wilde

This American man was an unchanging fashion favorite of designers and remained so. His image and he as a whole significantly influenced the fall menswear collections in 2017. He regularly confessed his love for fashion and willingly discussed this topic. So, in 1885, he published a whole essay called “The Philosophy of Clothing,” arguing that “from an artistic point of view, fashion is one of the forms of ugliness, so unbearable that we are forced to change it every six months.”

These words can now be interpreted as an image of a modern buyer who constantly strives for something new and desires fast fashion. This man never gave up his style, which is why designers remain inspired by his image. 

Truman Capote

Particularly, Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s immediately became a bestseller and fashion bible of the late 1950s. With her inimitable style, the protagonist Holly Golightly gained a reputation as the perfect embodiment of the image of the Bohemian aristocrat of the time. And the obvious conclusion: a little black dress complete with a pearl necklace will never go out of style.

Ruche Table Lamp by KOKET

Mark Twain

Twain often raised the theme of clothing in his work. He owns the famous phrase: “Attire paints a person. Naked people have little influence in society, if not none.” In addition, the writer quite clearly outlined his position on how things determine the attitude towards their owner in the journalistic essay The Tsar’s Monologue: “A policeman in civilian garments is just a person, but when he is wearing a uniform, he costs a dozen.” 

Mark Twain said: “Every dress and title are the most powerful means of influence.” He claimed clothing was among the most substantial things in the world. Wearing a uniform or unique clothes instills respect for others, whether a judge or a king. He also claimed the dress is essential to making an impression.

Wrapping Up

Moreover, style icons exist not only on the covers of fashion magazines and in the pictures of famous photographers but also in literary works that have already received the status of classics. The literature of each era speaks about the peculiarities of a specific time, about the principles by which people lived then. Fashion adapts to these same principles and preferences. Therefore, there is no doubt that literature as a fashion muse will be an eternal inspiration.

Feature Image: Photo by Vika Strawberrika / Unsplash


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