November 19, 2012

The Tribulations of Fashion

Belgian artist James Ensor is known for his important contributions to surrealist and impressionist painting. Upon a visit to the Museum of Modern Art this afternoon, I found his piece Tribulations of Saint Anthony to be a magnet to the eye. It is a recreation of the story in which Saint Anthony battles a world of temptations, shockingly rendered in a vivid color palette. Created in 1887, the painting brings together a fantastical world characterized by sharp pastel-colored strokes and the darker sins of Hell, suggested by the almost demonic expressions of the creatures that populate this alternate universe.

Ensor's depiction introduces a visual imagination unlike any other work I've seen from his era. His innovation now inspires my own Tribulations of Fashion.

Tribulations of Saint Anthony
Mary Katrantzou bodice (available here) and skirt (available here), House of Harlow 1960 box clutch (available here), Nicholas Kirkwood boots (available here), Alexander McQueen skull ring (available here).
The outfit creation merges texture and color to evoke the details of Ensor's work. Surrealist shoes draw the eye downward, as in the visual path of the painting that leads to the creatures in the bottom left corner. A skull ring is paired with Mary Katrantzou's petal pink garment confections: the perfect harmony between fantasy and darkness.

Ensor described his interpretation as one in which "the bizarre prevails." Here, too, the avant-garde fashion reigns supreme. 

Image from
Collage made with Polyvore

1 comment:

  1. I love the print on the skirt and top. I can see the color inspiration from the painting. Cool idea!