Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase B. Clow, PhD

First Reader

Leslie Ross, PhD


Fashion is often seen as a frivolous craft which many believe to lack substance. Fashion however has for generations drawn inspiration from one of the very things that defines culture and that is art. Some of the most successful fashion designers of our time have drawn inspiration directly from masterpieces of art. The Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972) was heavily inspired by his countrymen including Diego Velázquez (1599-1660), Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664), and Francisco Goya (1746-1828). The Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce (1958-present) and Stefano Gabbana (1962-present) created a Fall 2013 collection that was significantly inspired by the Byzantine mosaics from the Sicilian Cathedral of Monreale. The American fashion designer L’Wren Scott (1964-2014) created a Fall 2013 collection entitled Allegory of Love, her inspiration for this collection was the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s (1862-1918) “Golden Phase”, as well as his muse at the time, Adele Bloch-Bauer. The Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave (1946-present) has created paper costumes inspired by well known paintings from art history. Through the analysis of exhibition catalogs, secondhand interviews, fashion collection reviews, and art history textbooks, this paper shows why these contemporary fashion designers were inspired by these iconic artists and their artwork. This thesis analyzes these artists and their artwork, as well as the subsequent fashion that arose through inspiration from their art. This paper demonstrates fashion is not simply a craft, nor a frivolity.