Influences: Bauhaus

Givenchy Fall 2010

Even more interesting than the presence of the Arts & Crafts movement on the runways for Fall 2010, is the presence of one of its contemporary aesthetic movements: Bauhaus. Long a favorite and familiar influence across all tenets of design, The Bauhaus has been seducing fashion designers for decades. Most notably (to call out the obvious) in 1965 with Yves Saint Laurent's Mondrian collection. So what more is there to say in 2010?

Meaning "House of Building", The Bauhaus was a German design school that pursued a unification of art, craft, and technology just after World War I.

Founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany in 1919, the school drew parallels to the Arts & Crafts Movement, expanding on William Morris' adage that "form follows function". It differed from Arts & Crafts however, in that The Bauhaus considered the machine to be a positive element, making industrial and product design important parts of the school. Likewise, the aesthetic of The Bauhaus style (also known as The International Style,) was a complete departure from that of Arts & Crafts; here the stylized details and natural materials gave way to clean lines and a complete absence of ornamentation.

Two designers on the Fall 2010 runways claimed influences drawn from The Bauhaus: Donna Karan for DKNY and Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy. Done in different ways, both designers have created crisp, modern collections that seem to celebrate The Bauhaus in its efficiency and practicality.

DKNY Fall 2010. Images from

DKNY utilized warm neutral shades and colorblocking to showcase The Bauhaus influence, creating glamorous and breezy pieces that look very wearable for all types of bodies. True, colorblocking in fashion is not new especially not colorblocked dresses with tendencies toward Mondrian. However this group looks sufficiently refreshed and kicky for this year's party girl.

(As a side note, I want to mention that Piet Mondrian was not, in fact, a "Bauhaus" artist per se. He did lecture at The Bauhaus, but his own artistic theory was Neo-Plasticism, more commonly known as the Dutch artistic movement of De Stijl - a contemporary of The Bauhaus.)

Givenchy Fall 2010. Images from

The collection offered by Givenchy turned up the Mondrian element even more with a stark mix of black, white, and bright red throughout. Riccardo Tisci specifically cited the Bauhaus palette, characterized by neutral grounds with pops of primaries, as his inspiration. While I didn't care for this interpreted in Fair Isle knits and oddly-cut lace, I believe the collection held together best when the strong colors were paired with strong, architectural silhouettes.

While The Bauhaus' influence on Fall 2010 isn't nearly as whimsical and lush as the influence of the Arts & Crafts movement, it does offer some interesting ideas. Perhaps in our world of fast fashion and new media we can incorporate more art and craftsmanship? I'm not sure what the exact lesson is, or why designers have come back to The Bauhaus again for this year.

It is ironic though, that The Bauhaus school never provided design history courses to its students. It was thought that everything should be designed according to principles rather than precedent.

TV: Rachel Zoe Gets Me Party-Ready

The real Rachel ZoeThe scene: My room, fifteen minutes before I'm due to leave for a party... the chant “Ihavenothingtowear” is repeating in my head. I take the latest unsatisfying option to the mirror...

“No. No no no.” The voice is deep, throaty, and no-nonsense. I spin around in terror to see blonde curls, gigantic sunglasses, a venti cup of Starbucks, and a Birkin bag - all being held up by a pile of fur.

“Ohmigod, Rachel Zoe?”

“Hi baby.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Obv – I’m here to get you dressed.”

“Ugh. At this point I think I’m wearing this.”

“No, you’re not wearing that. That’s jeans and a t-shirt.”

“Yeah, but it’s a Marc Jacobs t-shirt.”

“I know baby, but you can’t wear it to a party. It’s the holidays, it’s festive, it’s sparkle-time. You NEED to be in full regalia. Let’s do an edit...It’ll be fast and painless. What do we have on the racks?”

“I have nothing.”

“Not true. What’s this blue knit dress?” I try on the dress in the bathroom. “Come on out baby, I want to see you.”

“It’s okay. I usually put on my black Vuitton boots with it.”

“I gasp. Very sexy, but I think that’s more for date-night.”

“I agree, I’m not feeling it tonight.”

“Let me get in there and look. I’ll see it and I’ll want it, and I’ll want you to try it.” Rachel dives into my closet. All I can see is her perfectly bouncy blonde curls. How does she see in there with those glasses on?

“HUUUUUUUUH! I diiiiiiiieeee! Where did you get this vintage Pucci from 1968?”

“Um. How did you know the year?”

“Ohmigod. It’s signed. It’s a vintage Pucci shirtdress – and look at those sleeves! I gasp for air. That. Is. Bananas.”

“I think I bought it online years ago. I’m so afraid to wear it – it’s really fragile.”

DKNY Fall 2008“Oh. Ohmigod I die. Okay, too fragile. Let me look....What about this one?” Rachel pulls out my new DKNY dress – short, strapless, with an empire waist, and a cute full skirt in bronze brocade.

“I love that one! It’s a little dressy though, don’t you think?”

“This is the hero dress. I love the little bow-belt at the empire line, and the fabric is so cool: metallic, but sophisticated. I’ll accessorize you for the perfect look. How have you been wearing it?”

“I wore it once with my grandmother’s fox fur stole around my neck, and a high pony tail.”

“Vintage fur? I die.”

“But that’s too much – I’m just going to a house party.”

“Okay, we’ll do the strapless dress with a crisp black tee underneath. The black will balance the metallic brocade, but it will be perfectly dressed-down for a house party. I want you to do a really deep part at your bangs and pouf up your hair in the back – very 1960s, and lots of black eyeliner. Now what shoes?”

“I have these huge black patent oxfords that are pretty awesome, oh, and black tights.”

“Huuuuuuhhh! I gasp for air. Those. Are. Bananas.” I smile. Rachel thinks my shoes are bananas. “And those tights are great - really opaque - whose are those?"

"I just found them - their my new favorite thing, from Ellen Tracy. I think they were at Bloomingdale's..."

"Okay, jewelry. What about that ring from Marc by Marc Jacobs.”

“That’s what I was thinking too – it’s really big and fun.”

“And the perfect touch of sparkle to be festive. Now let me look at you... I gasp. You’re so confident in it too, I can tell how comfortable you are. Donna will be so proud.”

“Wow, I’m dressed! I can’t believe it! Thank you!”

“Ohmigod, you’re shutting it down.” Rachel picks up her Birkin bag and her venti and starts to head for the door.

“Thank you Rachel!”

“Alright baby, give me a kiss... I’m gonna go shop like a lunatic.”


For the record, no, Rachel Zoe did not *appear* in my room to help me get dressed. This post is a work of complete fiction. That being said, I do hear Rachel Zoe's voice in my head as I get dressed sometimes..."