Over the past century, there has been no shortage of designers who have applied surrealist principles to dramatic effects. Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons is known for making stunning sculptural forms, while Thierry Mugler made dresses that turned into motorcycles and butterflies, and Hussein Chalayan created furniture that turned into dresses. Alexander McQueen modified the look of his body with his bumster pants before Matières Fécales of Montreal really radicalized the human form, best known for his leather boots. Maison Margiela’s conceptual creations included everything from “wig coats” to vests of chunky chunks that are intricately joined, while Jean Paul Gaultier called his 2006 collection “Les Surréalistes,” honoring Schiaparelli with his version of her skeleton. Jeremy Scott is no stranger to planting mass paintings, as he did with his pieces inspired by McDonald’s in Moschin, while Miuccia Prada and Kenzo incorporated surrealistic motifs such as lips and eyes. Many of these designs have earned recognition off the runway and have been exhibited in top museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
“If people want to make a visual statement, [they] they want to look at surrealism in terms of these attractive, striking ways of 1997 playing with body and dress, ”says Matthews David. This season, surrealist influences have resulted in the illusion of gems in Loewe, poetic feathers in Erdem and deconstructed buffers in Marni. Dries Van Noten, who is often inspired by the movement, included hand motifs – a surrealist signature – while Libertine sought Alice in Wonderland for inspiration and added trompe l’oeil pockets to the trench coat. In Schiaparelli, which was revived in 2013 and is currently run by Daniel Roseberry, denim jackets were designed to be worn backwards, and the top had 3-D chest shapes and Hulk-like bellies.
For designer Dorian Who of Toronto, an encounter with a 1929 painting by René Magritte. Fake mirror in Brussels it was a turning point in her own art. “It was a complete change in my life [that led] to see the world through the window that this picture opened for me “, she says. “I started to look at things differently.” Touching her subconscious is now part of her creative process, which she says helps her better convey her message through her designs, images and creative collaborations. (The lookbook for her latest collection has a distinct Magritte blue sky.) “I feel that this uncensored thought process helps me connect with more people,” she says. How surreal.