Fashion designers have been collaborating with and/or seeking inspiration from Artists for decades (i.e., Yves Saint Laurent and Piet Modrian, Stephen Sprouse and Louis Vuitton, Miuccia Prada and Damien Hirst) but, we recently stumbled upon a fashion collaboration from 1955 that may be the grandest and most significant of them all. Featured in the November 14th, 1955 issue of LIFE magazine is a collaboration between American sportswear designer, Claire McCardell and five of the most famous artists of the 20th century, Picasso, Miro, Chagall, Leger and Dufy. These iconic creatives were brought together by textile company, Fuller Fabrics. Read the fully transcribed article below (images by Mark Shaw)
Art and fashion come close together in the gallery of new styles which are only a little removed from the canvases of great modern painters. Works of Chagall, Leger, Picasso, Miro and Duffy have been reproduced on cotton cloth by a U.S firm, Fuller Fabrics, and made into early resort clothes by Claire McCardell, most American of designers. Life took the clothes to the painters’ studios in Europe where, in their first fashion photographs, the artists showed reactions ranging from extreme modesty (Chagall styled out of the picture) to utter ham (next page). Seen first in these fashions, the prints will be available by the yard next month.
Marc Chagall helped to pose American Ivy Nicholson so that she stood against his Le Soleil Rouge looking as is she were drifting off into the romantic, dreamlike painting. She wears an informal dinner dress ($60), which is made in splotchy spring like colors patterned with disembodied figures characteristic of work by Chagall. The photograph was taken in the artist’s warm, crowded studio in Vence, France.
Two weeks before his death Fernand Leger posed for final portrait (right) in the Paris studio he has occupied since 1913, The print which British Model Anne Gunning wears is boldly drawn, boldly colored styled of legers work- best seen above in his painting of two women and in half-hidden still life. Fabric is made into dinner dress with high neck and long sleeves ($60) in the new ankle length.
Since Raoul Duffy’s death in 1953, his widow has lived in the Villa de Guelma in Nice where her salon is spectacularly hung with 42 of his paintings. In the salon French Model Jacky Mazel wears cocktail dress with exaggerated high waist ($40) in pattern of sailboats and waves adapted from Dufy’s seascape. The large painting, Aphrodite, was done in 1935 and worked over again by the artist in 1943.
Permitting this rare photographic session in his new Cannes villa, La Califronie, Picasso received top French Model Bettina Graziani and amid the clutter of packing crates and the profusion of paintings completed since he moved in last spring. In his fashion debut, Picasso wears a fedora and carries a sword while Bettina models shirt reproducing a Picasso still life and red wool jersey slacks with elastic at ankles ($55). Bettina by herself wears dress with back fullness emphasized pockets ($40) done in fish design from a Picasso ceramic.
Spanish Painter Joan Miro has a tiny studio in Barcelona, where his artists brushed and paint tubes are lined with meticulous care. A painter of gay canvases, the artist admired the star hat perched gaily on British model Margaret Philips. She also wears a long-sleeved wool jersey bathing suit and wide skirted pinafore ($58) in print mostly inspired by a Miro abstraction. Oddments in atelier include a bicycles which Miro modeled breadsticks and an African sculpture. Behind Miro is the canvas he is now working on.