Works of art can move us, enlighten us, spark imagination, and serve as a source of inspiration for many ideas—even for fashion. Fashion? Yep! Many of you know Hilary Elrod as the voice behind our Membership Department. When not at work, Hilary is an up and coming blogger in the Austin fashion scene, which is why we asked her to put together outfits that were inspired by and respond to the art hanging on the walls of the Blanton.
When I was approached to put together outfits inspired by the art at the Blanton, the first work I immediately thought of was Teresita Fernández’s Stacked Waters. I always love when visitors discover that the amazing blue walls of our atrium actually comprise an art installation—so many people walk around admiring it without knowing the artist designed this site-specific piece to fill the empty walls of the Blanton’s atrium.
It would seem like an obvious choice to pull together some sort of cool-colored outfit to play off the beautiful blue color of the tiles. However, my favorite part of this piece is how gleaming and reflective it is—you can see your reflection shimmering back at you when you stand next to the wall. (Pro tip: this makes for a great photo!) Inspired by the wall’s reflective quality, I decided to choose a shiny, metallic clutch paired with a simple pink dress. The bright pop of pink holds its own against the blue wall, and I also liked how the high-low hem of the dress complements the ombre-type feel of Stacked Waters as it gets lighter as the wall gets higher. To finish the outfit, I picked out a pair of leopard-print heels to bring a subtle layer of pattern that mimics the swirls inside each acrylic tile of the installation.
Dress: Old Navy
Shoes: Charlotte Russe
Purse: Rebecca Minkoff
For my next outfit, I ventured into the Modern and Contemporary galleries and was immediately taken by this colorful work by Regina Bogat, Cord Painting 14. Even before reading the wall label, it was clear that this artwork was created during the 70s!
Since the 70’s are making a comeback this fall, a few weeks ago I bought a pair of bell bottoms—my first pair since the 8th grade! No self-respecting psychedelic outfit would be complete without flared jeans, but I brought the bell-bottoms into the modern day with a suede, pointy toe pump. I love that Bogat used yarn to create a fringe on the painting, calling into question whether the work is a painting or more sculptural. In the fashion world, fringe is everywhere right now, so I had no trouble finding a fringe hobo bag that perfectly mimicked the hanging threads. In a serendipitous twist of fate, I only noticed after posing for these photos that each piece of yarn is tied off in a knot, while each piece of fringe on the bag is finished off with a metal stud: another great example of how art and fashion draw inspiration from each other! I finished off this look with a dark, floral blouse that provides a nice contrast of textures and stand out in front of the strips of the yarn.
Pants: Genetic Denim
Bag: Deux Lux
Heels: Franco Sarto
For my final outfit, I drew inspiration from one of the most striking (and largest!) works in the Blanton’s collection: Paul Villinski’s Passage. This soaring airplane is created from recycled and repurposed materials, just like the way you can mix and match different items of clothing to create a completely new look.
Enveloping the plane are 1,000 delicate black butterflies (again, all created out of recycled materials). When perusing my closet for the perfect top to complement the dainty butterflies, I was immediately drawn to lace. It’s a delicate material that feels weightless, and has a similar interplay of light and shadow as the butterflies perched on the plane’s wings. To reinforce this connection, I also picked out a pair of black laced-up heels to accentuate how the butterflies are interlaced throughout the wooden structure of the frame. Tying everything together is a pair of jogger pants, which lends a “broken-up” or unfinished look that mimics the skeleton of the plane. This all black outfit allows an interplay of material and skin, keeping it from feeling too monochrome.
Pants: Harlowe and Graham
Bag: Kelly Wynne
The next time you’re planning to visit the Blanton, why not take a moment, think of your favorite work of art, and design an outfit inspired by it? The pairing of art and fashion is a natural one, and you might just discover connections between the art on the walls and the clothes on your body that you hadn’t realized before.
By day, Hilary Elrod is the Membership Associate at the Blanton Museum of Art with a Bachelors degree in Anthropology and Minor in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin. By night, she is an Austin fashion and lifestyle blogger.