Monday, December 1, 2008

Klimt and Fashion

If you are like me, you are probably familiar with at least some of Gustave Klimt’s gorgeous, garish paintings of women from the late 19th and early twentieth centuries. But it was not until recently that I discovered that he and his lifelong friend Emilie Floge were involved in fashion design and fashion reform movements. Interestingly, his paintings seem to pay close attention to not only the shape of women's bodies, but also the sensual shape and pattern of the dresses worn by the sitters.

Portrait of Emilie Floge by Klimt (1902 - Vienna State Museum)

Klimt's companion Emilie Floge was a celebrated Viennese fashion designer, and Klimt also designed at least several dresses.

Portrait of Emilie Floge.

Their creations were loose-fitting dresses called “reformkleid” which freed women—and men like Klimt, who wore them—from the constricting clothes of the day.

Gustave Klimt and Floge in reform [reformkleid] dresses (1905).

Emilie Floge.

From the book "Klimt and Fashion." Emilie Floge in a dress inspired by Japanese stencils and Byzantine mosaics.

Two autochrome photos from 1910 of Floge in her own designs.

Two dresses (modeled by Floge) from her 1907 catalog.

Emilie Floge, 1905.

Klimt’s portrait sitter’s often wore reformkleid for their portraits, and to great effect: “He wanted to characterise her through her dress, with the fabric and cut emphasizing the personality of the person whose portrait he was painting” (Volker 49).

Portrait of Adele by Klimt (1912).

To do this he asked the sitters during his gold period to dress in flowing reformkleid that alludes to neoclassicism. The sitters during the Asian-inspired period wore slim fitting dresses with hooped skirts that are meant to look like trousers, in shades of white and pastels that Klimt always favored.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907)

These pale colors were not always in vogue at the time (44). But Klimt’s savvy fashion sense works to bring out the sitter amidst a background of almost dizzying array of colors. [Klimt and Fashion].

"Judith" by Gustave Klimt.

"Medicine" by Gustave Klimt.

Some recent fashion photography inspired by Gustave Klimt's work:

Black Book Galleries

[Update]: I just had to add more... The very amazing Gerry from Not from Paris reminded me of the Dior HC collection from Spring 08 (where everyone was invoking Klimt), and she pointed out the connection between the Dior designs and Floge's dresses. Here are a few samples:

Check out the Paris Fashion week photos for more!


Brigid said...

I love Klimt! I didn't know all that stuff about him.

Gerry said...

Gustav Klimt is incredible. It's kind of interesting how I can see parallels between Floge and that Dior HC collection that took a lot from Klimt... almost as though art influences people in the same way.

{Tara} said...

brigid -- I didn't know a lot of it either until I started researching recently!

Gerry -- It is interesting (and it often seems there was an equally talented woman behind the scenes somewhere that doesn't get as much credit as she deserves ;)

Anonymous said...

what an informative post! i've never heard of it either, so thanks!!

La c.

Anonymous said...

this is an AMAZING post- i've learned so much about klimt! :)

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous post! I recently caught the tail-end of a Klimt doco on TV and they were talking about his relationship with Emilie. I was so sad that I didn't get to see the whole show. The autochrome photos are just breathtaking!

{Tara} said...

lacouturier -- Cool! Yes, klimt is amazing!

letslivefast-- thank you so much for your kind words!! I try to be informative (without being boring ;)

karen -- I want to see that documentary!!

lune_blanc said...

I've only recently found out about Emilie Floge on myspace too!
Here's Emilie Floge myspace page created by my friend if you're interested.....

Sharon S said...

Hi there-thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures! I especially like the dress in the very first picture!

{Tara} said...

michiko-- Oooh, I'm going there right now to look. Thanks for the tip!

sharon-- I know, that dress is amazing -- very couture!

Rebecca, A Clothes Horse said...

I really like his paintings--but his dresses remind me of muumuus!

{Tara} said...

clothes horse -- they are like muumuus, LOL! But I'm sure women appreciated it after years of constricting corsets.

PIGNOUF said...

Très beau message !
A bientôt...:)

The Budget Babe said...

Ive been a Klimt fan for years and didn't know any of this! "Klimt and Fashion" is a book that's going at the top of my holiday wish list.

{Tara} said...

Budget babe-- The book looks amazing!!

Angela said...

great images... also you are right, little things at a party can make or break it.

{Tara} said...

savvy -- thanks! Yes, I had to learn about what makes a good party the hard way -- by screwing up a few times, LOL!

Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

Klimt's work is even more amazing in person. Two years ago, I was lucky enough to spend a week in Vienna and got to see much of his work, including "The Kiss", which is astounding. If you're ever in New York, you can see his gold portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer at the Neue Gallery, a short walk from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

{Tara} said...

couture allure vintage -- Thank you so much for the tip! Next time I'm in NY, I will definitely add that to my still must-see list!

lotusgreen said...

i love the "inspired by" gowns! aggh! pant! pant!

i thought you might find some of this interesting!

{Tara} said...

lotusgreen -- Yes, those gowns are divine. Your post on klimt and floge is wonderful, too...wish I would have come across it when I was doing research!