Diversity à la mode: Fashion, art and the idea of Europe in 28 outfits

In Varietate Concordia… united in diversity: this is the official motto of the European Union. It summarises what the EU stands for, from its humble beginnings of six countries in the 1950s to its evolution and expansion to 28 Member States.

Diversity is Europe’s key feature where different cultures, languages, and peoples coexist through the EU ideals of harmony and integration. But how could this diversity spread across 28 Nations be best exemplified? Why not through Fashion Art?

The “Fashion Art EU” temporary exhibition was launched at the Parliamentarium in Brussels last November. Until 15th May, visitors have the chance to look at 28 unique ensembles made by 28 known European artists that depict and interpret the cultural roots of each Member State and the common ideals of Europe they live by.

What is Fashion Art?

Fashion and art merged together are what make up the fusion concept of Fashion Art. Initiated by Spanish designer Manuel Fernandez in 1998, it is considered an emerging pluralistic movement in the art and fashion world.

The Fashion Art Institute Association in Madrid have since featured the joint works of various renowned plastic artists and fashion designers of different nationalities and backgrounds, and have organised several exhibitions in museums around the world, attracting more than three million visitors. The institute also organises workshops on how to incorporate the values of “solidarity, respect for equality and diversity, teamwork and compromise, creativity, and honesty” in the designing of fashion art.

28 stories, 28 outfits, one Europe

“It is a great opportunity to know our European neighbours”, said Vice-President of the European Parliament Sylvie Guillaume, during the inauguration of the “Fashion Art EU” temporary exhibition in the Parliamentarium. This exhibition is a joint project of the European institutions, the Fashion Art Institute Association, and artists from all the EU Member States.

A collection of “bringing together artistic movements in harmonious coexistence”, it is reminiscent of the idea of one Europe and the cultural differences in the Union. Through the artists’ personal techniques, 28 stories through 28 outfits were born, inspired by the history and culture of each European nation, in perfect cohesion to each other by incorporating the common ideals of the EU to each outfit.

Prior to the exhibition, the involved artists were each asked to create fashion, art and the idea of Europe in one outfit: a blank canvas in the form of an ensemble. Phil Akashi, a popular Belgian artist based in Hong Kong, was chosen to make a unique dress that represents Belgium.

Eugenio Recuenco

Entitled “A Touch of Optimism”, Akashi made use of Japanese Sumi ink and Cinnabar paste with seal imprints, manually filling the entire outfit with the Chinese symbols’ 文 (culture) and 乐观 (optimism). What the artist envisions for Europe? A collaborative rebuilding of a culture of optimism.

Other renowned artists who have created fashion art for this unique exhibition are Charles Villeneuve (France), Claudia Bonollo (Italy), Andrée Schwabe (Luxembourg), Sickboy (United Kingdom), and Barbara Rapp (Austria).

Do not miss out on this unique opportunity to appreciate art, fashion and the idea of Europe in 28 outfits!