Minimalism in Fashion


Minimalism describes various movements in art, design,literature, music and philosophy. It is also a field in architecture, interior and fashion. The roots of minimalism in fashion start with Madeleine Vionnet and Paul Poiret in the early part of the 20th century, then goes to the influence of Constructivist painting on André Courrèges, Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent in the 1960’s and exists until today. However the term wasn’t much used in respect of clothing but the 1920’s and 1930’s can be construed as beginning of minimalism in fashion. One can say that minimalism isn’t a trend but a philosophical constant throughout the decades until today.


In an age where corsets, boning and padding were wardrobe staples, Madeleine Vionnet was revolutionary. Taking her inspiration from Greek art, Madeleine Vionnet was the first designer to champion the bias-cut, cutting fabric diagonally across the grain so that it fell and draped around the body. Designers over the last decades, such as Halston and Ossie Clark  have referenced her style.

Minimalism often involves technical innovation. The results may be simple but the construction and execution is not. Minimalism in fashion is often positioned between utility and aesthetics. Extreme simplicity often begins from simple lines and geometric shapes.

Today’s minimalist designers concentrate on the specifics of form and fabric rather than the function of the garment. Often non- conventional materials are used such as felt or hard plastics, and geometric compositions. Geometric repetition and linear shapes are prominent until very recently. ( Gareth Pugh and Phoebe Philo for Celine).

The Japanese minimalist movement radicalized and democratized the fashion world in the 1980’s. When the designers Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons, became the toast of Paris fashion week in the early 1980s, their monochrome, asymmetric and intellectual vision of clothing was a revelation. Everything had to be black to be chic. Yamamoto believes that black is the only genuine color.

Futurism and minimalism are linked together. A whole generation of modernist architects and artists adopted a look that destroyed established dress codes and created a new ideal of style.

Anything is possible today. Issey Miyake, Hussein Chalayan, Gareth Pugh, among others, are inventors of an new era of design. The materials world is changing rapidly so does fashion. By experimenting with new forms and shapes and using innovative materials these designers have laid the milestone for the future.

New collections of designers such as Stella Mc Cartney, Oscar de la Renta, Celine and Bottega Venetta show that minimalism is still /or again alive.