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Lessons in style from art icons,Then and Now

Approximate reading time:5 mins.

You don’t need to have been to the Frieze of Biennale to know that where art goes, style follows. Arena Martinez is founded on the idea that you can be the canvas – you can bring art into your own life and the lives of those around you through the clothes you wear. Art doesn’t need to be limited to galleries. Here are eight women artists who know this, and whose style reflects the art they create.

Jemima Kirke (@jemimakirke)

The Girls actress is widely known for her role as Jessa Johansson in Lena Dunham’s Girls, but she is also an exhibiting artist alongside her acting career. We all recognise Jessa’s bohemian kaftans and maxi dresses in Girls, but IRL Jemima has a more down to earth style, with a strong New York cool-girl vibe. Her style’s eclectic: velvets, rich florals, jewel colours, band t-shirts, and a signature red lip all look incredible on the painter. Her most recent exhibition covers her own reflection and confusion around marriage, shared identity, and its place in society. It features a series of beautiful and searching portraits of women, dressed in their wedding dresses, though presented as thoughtful and questioning, challenging the oversaturated image of the bride in uncomplicated, blissful happiness.


Yayoi Kasuma (@yayoikusamas)

Yayoi Kasuma is famous in the art world for her idiosyncratic sculptures and installations, as well as for the way that her art spills over into her clothes, her style, her hair – her whole presence. She is part of the artwork, and her artworks are part of her. With exhibition titles like ‘All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins’, you see that the relationship between artist and art is the inspiration point for her work. Polka dots are her signature, and occur in her artwork, and in her style. As well as being a stalwart of the art world she has a fashion career to boot, launching a clothing line in the 60s, and collaborating with Luis Vuitton on a collection in 2012.


Quentin Jones (@quentin_jones)

Quentin Jones is the monochrome queen, with her high contrast black and white style reflected in her crisp b&w outfits. A fixture of the London fashion scene, she’s frequently seen front row and at fashion events, and works extensively producing mixed media pieces and films with the likes of Chanel, Luis Vuitton, Vogue, Victoria Beckham and I-D. She describes her own work as ‘a modern take on the surrealist tradition’, and features bold shapes, text, juxtaposed images and distorted bodies in her work. Her style is sharp and cosmopolitan, with

pressed white shirts, structured coats, bold black and white geometrics – like those that find their way into her illustrations and collages – balanced with slouchy denim shirts and converse.


Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović needs no introduction. She is an undisputed pioneer of performance art, pushing the boundaries between performer and audience, and the limits of what can be considered art in work that is brave and confrontational. Now a muse of Riccardo Tisci, she did not always embrace fashion, and at the beginning of her career had contempt for those female artists who wore makeup and embraced clothes, in line with the thinking of the women’s lib movement of the early 70s. Later in her career however she turned to fashion as a form of self-expression, and became closely associated with Givenchy, often wearing custom creations from the fashion house to public events.


Faye Wei Wei (@fayeweiwei)

A dreamy, otherworldly painter, Faye Wei Wei is one of London’s most interesting up and coming artists, with prominent solo shows last year. Her paintings are a colourful riot of stylised figures, classical mythology, fairy-like occult imagery and religious icons. In person, she mirrors the fantasy-filled world she creates in her work, with long dark hair, silk pyjamas printed with intricate designs, or white peasant dresses which look like they come straight out of a pre-Raphaelite paining. There’s something very Alessandro Michele’s Gucci about her free, trinketed and thoroughly beautiful world. She’s also no stranger to the fashion world, painting the sets for Shrimps’ SS18 show.


Peggy Guggenheim

With style files on both Man Repeller and Vogue, Peggy Guggenheim is a style icon with even larger art

credentials. With collections and galleries named after her all over the world, hers is one of the most famous names in art. Loud glasses are the name of the game here, as she was famous for her geometric frames as well as her outlandish jewellery. She turned her collector’s eye to fashion, selecting pieces for their interest, originality and aesthetic value.


India Menuez (@iiindiiia)

Artist and art muse India Menuez is as present in the fashion world as she is in the art world. Subject for, and friend to fashion photography darlings Harley Weir and Petra Collins, India is no stranger to ethereal style with a touch of the bizarre. Her own style has a purposeful naivety to it: tea dresses, ballet skirts, ribbons and waifish beauty, while her work explores empowered female sexuality and the female gaze.


Frida Khalo

No artists list would be complete without Frida Kahlo. There’s a reason she’s an Instagram icon as well as an art icon through her defiant mixture of masculine and the feminine, traditional and subversive, both in her own dressing and in her work. Her unibrow symbolised a rejection of traditional beauty norms, and a desire to redefine these standards, and the masculine suits she is often photographed in contrast the traditional colourful dresses from the Tehuantepac region of Mexico, as if to explore the way different identities which can coexist within one person. Her famous self-portraits are indicative of a deeply personal, autobiographical artistic process, one which manifested in the way she wore clothes, too.





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