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Designers and artists

Elsa Klensch discusses the ties that bind

As CNN's Style reporter, Elsa Klensch not only keeps track of what's hot -- she reflects on the artistry of fashion and where designers find their inspiration. From Dali to Warhol, visual artists often play a part in the picture.

Klensch says fashion and art have influenced one another for ages: before the days of photography and television, art helped spread notions of fashion around the world -- and fashion, in turn, influenced the course of art.

"Silk coming to Europe, for instance, gave artists a chance to paint light another way -- think of how different light looks coming off of silk," she says.

The division between fashion and art can be thin, Klensch adds.

"I think great fashion designers have the respect artists do. Yves Saint Laurent had exhibits at the Met," she says. "And, of course, Gianni Versace, who was a leader of the fashion world, deserves exhibits in fine art museums."

Versace, she contends, pushed aesthetic limits even further than one of the artists who influenced him.

"Andy (Warhol) was really a reflection of an age," she says, "whether he defined that age or the age defined him. Whereas Versace really did experiment with fabrics -- he took metal mesh and made it into fabulous evening dresses. ... He was a great experimenter and did many innovative things, whereas Warhol had fun...."

While fashion often exhibits strong artistic threads, doesn't it lose something in translation to a static museum show -- without the star-studded crowd, the dazzle of camera flashes, the pulsating beat as models strut the catwalk? Klensch says absolutely not.

"Art is meant to be studied. The Toledo Museum, where I just went, has a Geoffrey Beene exhibit. ... I stood and stood and looked at those clothes," she says. "And you could see how the material was put together and say, 'Oh, that's how that was made.' I think great art is meant to be studied and bring us joy."

Related stories:

  • CNN: Style main page
  • CNN anchors/reporters: Elsa Klensch profile

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  • Toledo Museum of Art
  • CNN's Elsa Klench



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