7 months ago

How To Dress Like You Work In The Art World


Fashion has fallen in love with art and “Art World Insider” is the look of the moment. Being fashionable now means signalling you are culturally in the know … So who are the women who look the p(art)?

For a tiny country, Ireland’s dynamic cultural scene creates above its weight; it’s as if every night is Culture Night, with lively local arts scenes and boutique festivals celebrating art, music, theatre, literature, design, craft, food, film, architecture. Irish talent continues to amass awards on the international stage. Are we a nation filled with exceptionally gifted people, or has the tradition of presenting party pieces to entertain ourselves encouraged us to unashamedly embrace our own, unique creativity?

Strolling through Dublin on a Thursday evening, you’ll notice the crowds at gallery openings spilling onto the paths, necking cab sauv and clutching catalogues. Neutrals, from navy, to grey (and ever-present black) abstracted shapes, sharp haircuts, interesting spectacles and amped-up or sculptural shoes, vintage pieces (with a provenance) and wacky prints, distinguish the art crowd. You’d be forgiven for confusing the collectors and clients with the artists and gallerists, based on their attire.

Once upon a time, an artist could be depended upon to look hungry and dress the part, in contrast to their privileged patrons. This decade may be characterised by tectonic shifts in global climate and personal priorities; as the planet buckles, we buckle up, eager to signal that we are engaged, authentic, creative, conscious, grounded, spiritual, informed, imaginative, connected – possessed of character and values we traditionally attribute to artists.

As the fashion world binds itself ever closer to the art world, via ambitious collaborations, elaborate exhibitions and increasingly, a shared audience, the fashionable are becoming more “artistic” in their style, artists more individual and creative in theirs. As each borrows from the other, a clear art world aesthetic emerges. Whether we identify as artists or as art insiders, as a chic curator, an art collector or dealer, or a woman who works in a gallery, the message is the same: we are culturally aware, aesthetically literate – and We Have a Look …


THE LOOK: Think chic curator, art dealer or woman on her way to a job in a gallery. THE MATERIALS: Cashmere, tweed, cotton and linen. THE PALETTE: Neutrals (navy grey and beige). THE SILHOUETTE: The opposite of body-con – informal, softly sculptural pieces with interesting details: a simple dress with statement sleeves, funnel-neck sweaters, below-the knee skirts and menswear-inspired blazers and tailored trousers, overalls and boilersuits. THE SHOES: Unisex white trainers, chunky-sole boots, loafers, flats. FOR EVENING: Elevated, accessorised versions of the daywear look, or bold dresses with a flamboyant print, vintage pieces. THE LABELS: The Row, Loewe, Bottega Veneta, Jil Sander, Simone Rocha, Gabriela Hearst. AFFORDABLE: Cos, &Other Stories. WHAT SHE VALUES: Authenticity, individuality and creativity. WHAT SHE ISN’T: Power-dressed or dolled-up. HOW SHE BUYS: She follows Jean Muir’s advice to “Collect your clothes.” EXTRAS: Sharp haircut, interesting earrings.


Fashion director, stylist and creative consultant, Aisling Farinella’s work stands at the intersection of fashion and art, absorbing cultural, artistic and fashion references to bring to every project she works on. Her own style is fey, pretty with an edge, which makes Simone Rocha the perfect designer for her.


A long career as a curator has honed Rachel Thomas’ artistic – and fashion – eye. Senior curator and head of exhibitions at IMMA, this tall blonde Welshwoman has an incredibly sophisticated wardrobe. The epitome of the culturally aware and aesthetically literate dresser.


Annie Fletcher, who returned from the Netherlands to become director of IMMA earlier this year, has an understated style, offset by her pixie-cut chic silver-grey hair. She often wears black and white, and favours stripes and strong, graphic pattern.


Byrne, legendary lecturer in textiles and fashion at NCAD. She chooses her clothes carefully and rarely throws anything out. She wears pieces she bought in the 1980s (she is also keeper of NCAD’s growing historical fashion archive). Wearing Cos from head to toe, she finds its strength lies in its unfussy, clean lines, but her trained eye finds good shape, fabric and interesting detail in several quarters, from the vintage shop to the high street.


“Being involved with creativity on a daily basis encourages an individual response to fashion – a lot of black.” Director of the Hugh Lane Gallery, Barbara Dawson, lets the art make the impression, while keeping her wardrobe elegant, interesting and understated. The palette is muted or monochrome, with an occasional flash of colour.


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