Robin Kay, executive director of Toronto Fashion Week.aaron Harris file photo for the toronto star
Designers are artists but fashion is not art, says show boss
Is fashion art?
“No,” according to Robin Kay, president of the Fashion Design Council of Canada, and executive director of Toronto Fashion Week.
But, she adds, fashion designers are artists. “It is impossible to create a collection without the gift, the genetic makeup, the talent that I put in the category of artist.”
Despite the creativity involved in designing clothes, fashion is still a money-making industry, Kay says. “The artist designer must perform the business components to have success,” she said in an email.
The question of whether fashion can exist within the same sphere as paintings and sculptures has long been up for debate. It was the focus of discussion at Fashion as Art: Exposed, a fundraiser at Toronto Fashion Week for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection’s new exhibit, Fashionality: Dress and Identity in Contemporary Canadian Art.
The fundraiser, which celebrates the fusion of art and fashion, honoured seven designers, including D’Arcy Moses.
For his part, Moses is a firm believer that the two are inseparable.
“It’s no different than doing a marble sculpture . . . just the whole creative process,” he said. “(Fashion) is an industry that’s an art form.”
Moses adds he is frustrated by the lack of government funding given to fashion projects. The Canada Council for the Arts, a crown corporation that supports dance, music and other art, has repeatedly rejected Moses’s grant applications to fund his gallery shows, he says. “I’ve gotten responses back saying, ‘Sorry, we don’t consider fashion as an art. It’s an industry.’”
Julia Pine, curator of Fashionality, says the question of whether fashion is art is complex.
“Fashion is a very wide concept and art is a very wide concept,” she said. “Art does have a lot of parallels with fashion.”
Although she declined to give an unequivocal answer, Pine conceded that, “The worlds are definitely colliding more these days.”