Art has always influenced fashion, but when designers move beyond references and subtle nods and instead work directly with artists, truly extraordinary and original work is created. Such collections occupy an exciting new space where the two fields meet, standing not only as works of art in their own right but as fun, highbrow sartorial offerings that allow designers to create beyond the normal realms of fashion.

The fashion world is constantly clamouring for collaborations left and right, breathing new life into its products by incorporating another creative’s vision.

While many of us consider fashion an art form itself, both industries continue to collaborate to forge deeper creative conversations. Painters, illustrators, and photographers have become important contributors to the fashion industry, their input often adding instant value to a collection. The direction is often set by the designer and fuelled by a mutual appreciation of each other’s work.

In this feature, we shine a light on The Julian Art Fashion, a ladies wear collection, which is a collaboration between established local fashion designer Julian and select South African contemporary artists represented by Art Eye Gallery. The artists they currently work with are Thokozani Mthiyane, Trevor Coleman, Toni Bico, Kobus Walker and Lionel Murcott. Julian established his label in 1986 and is widely supported by loyal clientele for his understated style and exceptional craftsmanship.

Fashion and art each require precision, imagination and an in-depth understanding of colour and shape. This is perhaps why the two crafts often collide in a professional sense. When fashion and art collaborations do occur, masterful products and designs will usually ensue.

The Julian Art Fashion clothing collection is developed into a modern African interpretation fashion of the colorful rainbow nation. Artworks are selected from artists paintings and using sublimation printing the artwork is then printed onto fabric. The collection pays a royalty to the artist on clothing that is sold using their artwork.

Various fabrics are used in different weights throughout the collection, quality is of utmost importance and they ensure print retention for a prolonged lifespan since the items are uniquely individual (no two items are exactly alike). This range has an exclusive and collectable feel as opposed to chain store mass produced fashion items. The exclusive artist prints, garment silhouette and finish set the brand apart, the sizing is a slim fit perfectly suited to the active lifestyles and toned bodies of their customers.

“Art and fashion have always been parallel to one another; fashion has a crush on unusual and outrageous prints that create alchemy by mixing wild colour and texture. We as local designers should celebrate and create a symbiosis of our rich and abundant local artists and their immense talent collaborating with these artists in creating exciting and totally South African products. Fashion art will become unique collectible items and precious pieces. Fashionistas are no longer interested in mass-market reproduced clothing, they want rare garments that tell a story,” says Julian.