• Michelle Gibson

The Fashion Student’s Guide for Art History

Updated: Mar 20, 2020

On the IFA Paris Podcast episode: Art & Fashion, we personally invite you to join us on our fashion museum tour through Paris as we tested our Fashion Student’s Reference Guide for Art History. Our episode is an entertainingly packed 20-minute experience, visually narrated as we sought to make a game out of using our Art History Moodboards to guess the Designer’s Art Movement of inspiration. The winner gets a year-supply of coffee and croissants (or just bragging rights all 2020)! We also share 6 Ways to Look at Art including formally, iconographically, biographically, and through psychoanalytic theory, Marxist theory, and postcolonial theory. As well you will not want to miss our insightful conversation with IFA Paris Professor and Interim IFA Paris Art Club Coordinator, Sandy Bontout, as she shares Why Fashion Students Should Live & Breath Art and How to Use Your Art History Knowledge in Various Fashion Careers.

Art History Moodboards, including the main 27 European Art Movements

and styles split by Pre-Modern and Modern Art.

Obviously as Fashion students we are obsessed with everything that has to do with creativity, clothes, accessories, style, and self-expression. We ogle at beautifully curated fashion shows during Fashion Weeks. Admire well-dressed people in the streets. Yet, one crucial subject that we often forget is the Influence of Art History on Fashion Design. As a Fashion major why should you care about impressionism, cubism, photorealism and all of the -isms involved? For one the lack of knowledge might cost you your dream job either in the interview stage or in your day-to-day pitches and projects or leave you in an awkward silence at the next cocktail party. As an educated person Art History is a cultural subject that you are expected to know, and as a Creative Professional the breadth of your knowledge will propel your career expeditiously.

Beyoncé with her twins and Botticelli’s Madonna of the Pomegranate.


When studying Art History be open minded, and try not to get overwhelmed or fearful by all of the –isms; Instead first start by soaking in the knowledge visually by using the Art History Moodboards above as a refresher on the main 27 European Art Movements and styles split by Pre-Modern and Modern Art. Each mood board includes the name of the Art Movements, the approximate dates of origin, the key artists, the overall aesthetic, iconic artworks, the overlap as seen within Fashion History, and examples from notable fashion designers who have famously referenced these Art Movements and Artists.

For a more global perspective of the art timeline we highly recommend you explore the easily researchable resource Oxford Art Online. This extensive online resource includes timelines highlighting significant moments of Art History in Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and Oceania. Within these timelines you can read brief summaries of important events in visual arts, and find links to articles for further reading. Through Oxford Art Online additional access is given to Oxford’s Grove Dictionary of Art and the Benezit Dictionary of Artists. Grove Art is the art encyclopedia offering global coverage of visual culture composed in collaboration with thousands of scholars and specialists around the world. Benezit offers unique information about the sale and collection of artists’ work, and is the most comprehensive resource of artists’ biographies available. Follow the links above to continue your global Art History exploration.

The “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre in Paris. Pedro Fiuza/NurPhoto — Sipa, via Associated Press

Being two, first year Global Fashion Media MBA students each from America and Kenya, it was a very refreshing surprise to be welcomed into a city filled with over 130 museums. Including museums dedicated to housing some of the most iconic artwork and fashion creations in history. This is Paris at its best!

Photos courtesy of Paris Insiders Guide, The Palais Galliera, and Trait' Tendance Paris.

During our quest to define the relationship between Art & Fashion we intimately explored three of Paris’s must-see exhibits located within the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, Musée Bourdelle, and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. It is here on our walk-through these exquisite exhibits that we learned a richer connection between these masterfully made pieces of clothing and the paintings and sculptures strategically placed within each exhibition space. To go for a 20 minute ride on the happy hills of fashion click the link below for IFA Paris Podcast: Episode: Art & Fashion!


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