There’s no denying that art and fashion have an intertwined history. The two have been inspiring one another for centuries, forcing each art form to adapt in new and innovative ways. And while it is common for editorial photo shoots to be modeled after famous masterpieces, it is less common for garments to be designed to look directly like a work of art. When they do, their collections and pieces shed new light on old masterpieces, as well as propelling us into the future by changing the way we view fashion. The dresses shown here alongside their inspirations prove that textiles can become both a canvas and a garment simultaneously.

  1. Zuhair Murad Spring/Summer Haute Couture 2011 and “Ancient Egyptian Musicians and a Dancer” 1910 Reproduction

In a collection based on the fashion of ancient Egypt and ancient Greece, Zuhair Murad brought new life to styles that are thousands of years old. The intricate beading on the bodice of this dress is reminiscent of the heavy jewelry worn by Egyptian royalty, and the flowing skirt is light enough for the desert air. Overall, this is a new twist on an ancient and timeless look.

  1. Dolce and Gabbana Fall/Winter RTW 2013 and “The Coronation of King Roger II” in Montreale Cathedral

Based on the breathtaking mosaics of the Cathedral Montreale in Sicily, the Italian designers decided to replicate in painstaking detail the portraits and scenes envisioned on the cathedral’s walls. The attention paid to each piece of the mosaic recreates the 12th-century church, giving the effect that each garment is made from stone tiling. It is as if the walls of the church were used to grace a woman’s body rather than a cathedral, and indeed, each model wearing these pieces has the grandeur and beauty of a heavenly vision. This collection lends new meaning to the idea of the body as a temple.

  1. Valentino Spring/Summer Haute Couture 2014 and “Adam and Eve” by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Valentino’s stunning gown recreates the medieval painting of the original couple in exquisite detail. Done entirely in embroidery, the dress manages to look like the work of a brushstroke and oil paint rather than needle and thread. A work of art in its own right, Valentino’s design sports a completely sheer bodice, leaving the chest covered only by the same embroidered leaves that hide Adam and Eve on the skirt, suggesting that human nature has not changed over time.

  1. Dolce and Gabbana Spring/ Summer Alta Moda 2014 and “Composition with Roses and a Cup of Tea” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

attends the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City.


This voluminous tulle ball gown was inspired by the works of Renoir. The spray of flowers against ethereal and light materials help render the feeling of an impressionist painting in fabric. The lines of tulle mimic brushstrokes and the seemingly random spray of flowers helps lend to the illusion. Impressionist art creates a view of reality that could only be captured at a specific moment in time. By rendering Renoir’s art in the form of a ball gown, the moment becomes more permanent.

  1. Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer RTW 2013 and “Portrait of Adele Bloch Baur I” by Gustav Klimt

One inspiration for Sarah Burton’s 2013 collection for Alexander McQueen was the work of painter Gustav Klimt. Klimt is famous for his ‘gold period,’ which involves intricate swirls and patterns rendered in gold leaf alongside a painting. Burton took some of those patterns and used them in her collection, including this dress. By covering a real person in the gold patterns Klimt is so famous for, Burton recreated the artist’s paintings in a new form.

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