Art Nouveau in Fashion

Another editorial I composed for Little Black Dress after being inspired by the decorative designs splashed all over the Vogue Runway Round Up that has been my holy grail since ‘fashion blogging’, not being exactly switched on in the trend department (to say the least). 

From the French for ‘new’, Nouveau was the perfect way to attribute this refreshing new movement on the artistic scene in the 1900s.  It was the first movement that refrained from referring back to history and create a completely unprecedented style of art. Art Nouveau took the world by storm and featured strongly in a vast majority of creative arenas including interior design, painting, architecture, pottery and textiles.

Art Nouveau features stylized, organic motifs of intertwining stems and flowers, which always purposefully avoid shading so as to eliminate three-dimensions. It was precisely this design feature that earned Art Nouveau its title of “the noodle style” with its elongated, linear curves.

CSI actress, Emily Montague sported this style at a soiree held by Miu Miu this week to premiere the new short film, ‘Muta’ by Argentinian film director, Lucrecia Martel. Emily drew the eye to the Nouveau–inspired centre panel by keeping her little black dress stylishly simplistic in a contemporary twist on the early twentieth century style.

When Art Nouveau burst onto the fashion scene in the early 1900s, the cuts of the dresses were reminiscent, almost identical to the style of women’s garments of the 1800s Romantic era. Erect, hourglass silhouettes and high shoulders with a voluminous, ‘leg-o-mutton’ sleeve were representative of the growing independence of women at the time. Women were becoming more and more immersed into the workplace and communicated their newfound confidence in their fashion choices. Tailored skirts replaced bustle-enhanced layers to replicate the suits worn by their husbands, fathers and brothers at work.

Although this fashion direction faded in the 1920s with the introduction of the more straight-cut flapper dresses, it is back in all its modernised glory in Miu Miu’s Fall 2011 collection. Acclaimed actress Diane Kruger wore one of these new Miu Miu designs (pictured below) to the ‘Muta’ premiere event, embodying old Hollywood glamour to a tee.

This was an apt choice for the event as the film being screened is a contemporary take on Film Noir, which features formidable femme fatales who were the muse of Art Nouveau designers in the 1900s.

The mid-length, open-back, Miu Miu dress that Ms. Kruger wore is typical of the whole collection with a bow accent round the waist to create a waist shrinking illusion inspired by the hourglass figure idolised by women thought all eras but originated in the nineteenth century. The dress also features Nouveau-inspired floral embroidery on the voluminous, billowing sleeves that are so ‘of the minute’; a signature motif of the Fall 2011 collection.

If you love the ‘Nouveau Nouveau’ look created by Emily Montague or the more classic aesthetic chosen by Diane Kruger but don’t want the high-end price tags, accessories can add a decorative touch to your LBD. A puff-sleeve cardigan or a floral pashmina will give your outfit an artistic flare and will keep you warm in the cooler season!

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