Wearable Art

Investment pieces: we all know the theory. On a personal level, the interminable recession is forcing us to reassess our throwaway attitude to fashion. As tempting as we find the new Versace diffusion range for H&M, we know we should be shelling out for an immaculately and ethically made Stella McCartney cashmere coat rather than stockpiling scraps of sweatshop jersey.

On a global level, we’re realising that our consumer greed has real consequences. Two episodes into the BBC’s Frozen Planet, and the image of David Attenborough pulling a not-angry-but-disappointed face has started popping into our heads every time we reach for a Primark blouse. Nowadays, a legacy of pesticide-drenched land, energy-eating factories and polyester waste mountains just doesn’t feel sexy.

But the idea that we should only adorn our bodies with beautiful, well-crafted and mindfully produced garments isn’t just about redistributing cash from the high street to couture; it is ushering in a whole new hybrid industry. What do you get when you combine fashion with sculpture, exclusivity with accessibility and environmental awareness with financial sense? Welcome to the world of ‘wearable art’.

Artists and architects across the globe are increasingly applying their skills to clothes. We get unique, ethical statement pieces that work as both instant hit and heirloom; they get mainstream exposure and the challenge of adapting their art form to the unruly dynamism of the human body.