In the wide spectrum of Art, fashion has endured the idle stigma of being bracketed amongst the lesser areas of expertise in the trade. But, as Oscar Wilde elucidated in his essay, “Relation of Dress to Art,” beauty found on the street — donned by the bodies assembled on the city sidewalks — is a gainful and pure muse. Says Wilde: “There is not […] a single delicate line, or delightful proportion, in the dress of the Greeks, which is not echoed exquisitely in their architecture.”
For multidisciplinary artist Julie Verhoeven — whose calling in art has been fundamentally tied to a career in fashion — the vision and manifold of her oeuvre proves Wilde’s proclamation unequivocally correct.
Globally renowned for her fashion illustrations — emblazoned upon fabrics from Versace and found embellishing accessories by Mulberry — Verhoeven is an esteemed veteran in the worlds of both fashion and art. Even so, the British artist has not been immune to the trite prejudices directed towards the industry; in fact, at certain junctures in her life she admits to having internalized them. “I used to be ashamed of my fashion background, but now I accept that it’s intrinsic to my art practice,” says the artist. “I have tried to run away from it and resist, but fashion continually excites me.”
It was fashion that first ignited Verhoeven’s artistic passion. After graduating from Medway College (now Kent Institute) in 1987, she went on to work for John Galliano as a design assistant, transferring over to Martine Sitbon in Paris afterwards, where her role as design assistant eventually led to a consultant position. She would later add Jasper Conran, Richard Tyler, and Guy Laroche, amongst others, to her list of consultancies.
The segue from illustration into fashion design came in the form of a handbag, the Grimm’s fairy-tale appliqué bag. Subsequent to the success of that quirky collaboration with Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, Gibo Co., the manufacturer for labels including Hussein Chalayan, Helmut Lang, and Viktor & Rolf, hired Verhoeven as its head designer for their first ready-to-wear collection in 2003.
Today, shed of her title as Gibo’s head designer, Verhoeven’s repertoire is art-centric. A featured artist in fashion visionary Nick Knight’s “SHOWstudio: FASHION REVOLUTION” exhibition at Somerset House in London, presented last year, the artist held a solo exhibition, “Strong Enough To Be a Woman,” at the MU in Eindhoven, Netherlands this past winter, a collection of works gathered over the last 4 years.