This exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is the first to focus on Sargent’s sartorial eye, revealing how a close attention to dress helped bring his portraits to life (8 October–15 January 2024). The painter was highly selective about his sitters’ garments and would often choose their outfits in advance, or alter their appearance once they arrived in his studio. All of this was done to enhance the overall composition and narrative of the portrait.

Sargent’s emphasis on fashion in his portraits reflects a growing trend in the art world – the intersection of fashion and visual arts. Fashion has always been an integral part of society, and now it is being recognized as a powerful form of self-expression and artistic representation. As a result, we are seeing an increasing number of exhibitions and art events dedicated to exploring the relationship between fashion and art.

One potential future trend related to this theme is a greater collaboration between fashion designers and artists. We already see this happening to some extent, with fashion houses commissioning artists to create original artworks inspired by their collections. This trend is likely to continue as both industries recognize the value of cross-pollination and mutual inspiration.

In addition, we may see more artists using fashion as a medium in their work. Just as Sargent used clothing choices to convey a sense of character and narrative in his portraits, contemporary artists may explore fashion as a means of storytelling and social commentary. This could manifest in the form of wearable art, where clothing becomes a canvas for artistic expression.

Furthermore, advancements in technology are likely to play a significant role in shaping the future of fashion in art. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies offer new possibilities for creating immersive fashion experiences within the realm of art exhibitions. Visitors may be able to virtually try on garments from historical periods or interact with virtual models wearing avant-garde designs.

To capitalize on these potential trends, the art and fashion industries should consider fostering collaboration and interdisciplinary dialogue. Museums and galleries can actively seek partnerships with fashion houses, designers, and technology companies to create dynamic exhibitions that explore the intersection of fashion and art. Similarly, fashion designers can collaborate with artists to incorporate artistry into their designs and challenge societal norms.

In conclusion, the growing recognition of fashion as an art form opens up new possibilities for the future of both industries. By embracing collaboration, exploring fashion as a medium, and leveraging technology, the art and fashion worlds can continue to evolve in exciting and innovative ways. The exhibition on Sargent’s sartorial eye is just the beginning of a broader exploration into the relationship between fashion and art.

1. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:
2. Gibson, I., et al. (2018). Fashion Thinking: Creative Approaches to the Fashion Industry. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts.
3. Ferriera, M., & Ribeiro, A. P. (2019). Art+Fashion: Collaborations and Affinities. London: Routledge.
4. Taylor, L., & Trigg, D. (2017). Fashioning Identity: Status Ambivalence in Contemporary Fashion. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts.