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Turning to Realism

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some say life imitates art. Lately, though, it's fashion that imitates art.

Last spring, art-house inspiration made its rounds on the catwalks: A revival of Piet Mondrian-style color-blocking made a debut on the runways of ChloƩ and Jonathan Saunders; at the same time, such fashion heavyweights as Balenciaga and Dries Van Noten splashed their runways with soft, romantic painterly florals inspired by watercolors.

Another year, another influence: This year, artistic prints took a sartorial turn toward realism, as photo-esque images showed up in the form of Christopher Kane's gorilla-printed sheath and Belgian designer Veronique Branquinho's landscape-printed, billowing silk dresses.

For a panoramic take on the trend, look for full-garment landscapes and large-scale photo prints, such as Branquinho's straight-from-the-runway desert-scape, Loomstate's sunset-horizon T-shirt or Nili Lotan's Brooklyn Bridge-printed dress.

Looking for just a snapshot of the look? Try a photo-printed accessory, such as German designer Markus Lupfer's scarf, printed with a sea of faces. Or choose a piece with a simplistic print but the same touch of realism, such as Madison Marcus's cowl-neck silk dress, splashed with a two-feather print that hints at a photo negative's transparent, inverse coloring.

Picture perfect, indeed.

-- Michelle Thomas

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