Souper Dress: The Best Pop Art-Inspired Womenswear
From Jeremy Scott to Fendi, the spirit of Warhol lives on through our top pick of bold, graphic pieces.
Popular, transient, expendable, low cost, mass produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, big business. The English painter and collage maker Richard Hamilton once used these adjectives to define pop art, a movement which upended the art world in the 1950s and 1960s by presenting everyday objects and mass-produced imagery as pieces of high culture. Both a satirisation of consumerism and a love letter to it, the movement began on the fringes of high society, but over time has come full circle. Now, the works of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Keith Haring are adored by the mainstream, and serve as inspiration for heritage brands and the industry leading designers. Those that are true to the original spirit carry on its wit and irreverence, often translated through (or perhaps instigating) our current high-low obsession with logos and popular iconography. Here, we single out three bold and graphic pieces from the most forward-thinking of designers.
Big Shot Scott
Jeremy Scott regularly wears his Warhol references on his sleeve. Like the Factory founder, he is a designer obsessed with America and all of its capitalist desires – fast food, comic books and big corporate logos, to name but a few. For this cropped sweatshirt, Scott revisited a series of polaroids, taken in 1996, which echo Warhol's Self-Portraits in Drag.
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Just as pop art emerged as an antithesis to classic forms, Mary Katrantzou has built her career out of eschewing the usual principles of print design. Rather than relying on silk screens and pretty repeat patterns, the Greek designer uses Photoshop and digital printing to create expansive yet claustrophobic motifs, often referencing historical art movements. This sweeping midi skirt borrows from Lichtenstein’s more abstract works with sharp line, vivid colour combinations and a frenetic composition.
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Fendi's appropriation of the Fila logo originated as a genuine piece of modern pop art. It was designed by the graphic artist known only by his social media handle, @hey_reilly (https://www.instagram.com/hey_reilly/), whose work often centres on big brand logos and cultural icons: think Warhol’s Soup Cans for the Instagram age. His Fendi/Fila mash-up caught the eye of one particular follower, Silvia Venturini Fendi, who promptly signed Reilly up to collaborate on an official capsule. These white leather courts are at the more restrained end of the collection, with a clean shape, ankle strap and all-over repeat pattern.
Raf Simons announced an ongoing collaboration between Calvin Klein and The Andy Warhol Foundation back in 2017, giving the American superbrand unprecedented access to the artist's archives. The results have been a series of pieces that utilise lesser-known works, such as the 1971 portrait of Dennis Hopper in a cowboy hat which adorns this simple white denim skirt. While the original partnership was announced as a four-year deal, it remains to be seen whether it will continue without Simons' stewardship. In other words, don’t wait until it’s too late to partake.
A muted palette of black, red and white makes this knitted top from Ermanno Scervino an understated choice for those seeking to infuse their minimalist wardrobe with a little pop art. A round-necked, short-sleeved style which pays homage to Lichtenstein, the graphic design feels thoroughly contemporary while remaining true to the era.
Keith Haring painted the iconoclastic Rebel With Many Causes, a critique of the avoidance of social issues such as AIDS, just months before his death of the disease in 1990. In tribute to the artist and LGBT+ rights trailblazer, American brand Alice+Olivia have emblazoned the piece across a simple cotton shift dress with colour-block panels.
In recent years, Scott's obsession with Warhol has manifested mostly through his collections for Moschino, the Italian luxury house built on a sense of the self-critical and self-exploratory. The link between the house and pop art can be felt in pieces which, while not lifting directly from the movement, borrow its bold approach to colour and form. These fluorescent sneakers are intentionally garish, with a sole in the shape of the brand's teddy bear motif.
Though Yayoi Kusama has become, in recent years, synonymous with her Infinity Mirrors, many acknowledge her work as a crucial part of the pop art movement (see the 2017 documentary Kusama: Infinity, where the Japanese artist describes how her work appeared to influence that of Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Lucas Samara). Her free-wheeling spirit can be felt perhaps most in her signature polka dots, which here are repeated all over a lime green Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 bag, originally released as part of a 2012 collaboration.
July 15 2019 by Magda Kaczmarska