The Girl and The Sunflowers

Elle Fanning wears a Rodarte Spring 2012 Collection gown inspired by Van Gogh to the 2012 Critic’s Choice Awards


Phoebe in Wonderland (Daniel Barnz, 2008), theatrical release poster


This movie is Elle Fanning’s first lead role in a feature film. The first draft for the script was written one year before Elle Fanning (Phoebe) was even born.


Tribute to Van Gogh on the Catwalk

Yves Saint Laurent, Tribute to Vincent Van Gogh, haute couture collection, Spring-Summer 1988


Detail of a jacket embroidered by François Lesage


Saint Laurent and Mr. Lesage recreated the irises and sunflowers of  Van Gogh’s paintings


Widely known for his use of watercolor, Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous artwork has been transformed into garments and adapted into fashion trends. Van Gogh’s paintings are not always clear and may even appear distorted in order to drag the 19th century art into current times. Although his work may not be directly printed on garments, designers tend to use his color palette in product design and production. Four of his famous creations included the Sunflowers still life series,Blossoming Almond Tree, Starry Night Over the Rhone, and Starry Night.

the sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy from Rodarte, sent out a collection that was one part Sleeping Beauty and another part Vincent Van Gogh. They explained that they fell for the greens and purples of the 1959 animated Disney classic, and asked themselves who else uses colors like that. They found their answer in the Dutch postimpressionist painter beloved by millions.

Those sunflowers appear woven into elaborate Lyons brocades of the type favored by the great mid-century couturiers such as Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior, although the Mulleavys seem to have washed and treated them to deflate some of that sumptuousness. Those optimistic, life-affirming blooms also appear in delicate silk-floss embroideries, scattered over fragile tulle ruffles.

There is more mid- and late-century couture influence in some of the gala shapes: swathed fichu necklines and bodices erupting into buoyant skirts, for instance, and even a Reine Margot bodice or two that seems plucked from the Christian Lacroix archive. But the fertile and poetic Mulleavy imagination grafts these touches onto modernistic effects. Mediterranean skies are lit by a full moon, and a brilliant Milky Way is evoked in gleaming metallic brocades, crystals nestling in the folds of knits, and clunky heeled sandals in reflective-mirror silver. Meanwhile, ruched glove leather, and exaggerated layered peplums and winged sleeves suggest the princess in an Alex Raymond‘s Flash Gordon story.


Rodarte, Spring-Summer 2012 Ready-to-Wear Collection


Textures from Rodarte SS 2012 collection

Swan’s Way


For the Countess of Peralta


The snow-white Olympic swan,
with beak of rose-red agate,
preens his Eucharistic wing,
which he opens to the sun like a fan.


His shining neck is curved
like the arm of a lyre,
like the handle of a Greek amphora,
like the prow of a ship.


He is the swan of divine origin
whose kiss mounted through fields
of silk to the rosy peaks
of Leda’s sweet hills.


White king of of Castalia’s fount,
his triumph illumines the Danube;
Da Vinci was his baron in Italy;
Lohengrin is his blond prince.


His whiteness is akin to linen,
to the buds of the white roses,
to the diamantine white
of the fleece of an Easter lamb.


He is the poet of perfect verses,
and his lyric cloak is of ermine;
he is the magic, the regal bird
who, dying, rhymes the soul in his song.


This winged aristocrat displays
white lilies on a blue field;
and Pompadour, gracious and lovely,
has stroked his feathers.


He rows and rows on the lake
Where a golden gondola waits
For the sweetheart of Louis of Bavaria.


Countess, give the swans your love,
for they are gods of an alluring land
and are made of perfume and ermine,
of white light, of silk, and of dreams.

Ruben Darío


Photo: Bruce Weber


Carmen Dell’Orefice by Norman Parkinson, 1980


Swaroski logo


Bathyllus in the swan dance, Aubrey Beardsley


Henri Matisse making a study of a swan in the Bois de Boulogne, c. 1930


Advertisement illustrated by René Gruau


Illustration to Garcia Márquez’s short story Bon Voyage Mr. President, by Josie Portillo


Still from The Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010)


Anna Pavlova


Still from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (Bill Condon, 2011)


Helena Bonham Carter


Laetita Casta. Photo: Mario Testino


Uma Thurman and Mikahil Baryshnikov as The Swan Prince. Photo: Arthur Elgort


Truman Capote styled his beautiful and wealthy female friends “swans”


Accompained by Lee Radziwill and Jane Haward


With socialité Babe Paley in Paris


Escorting CZ Guest


Capote and Gloria Vanderbilt Lumet arrive at New York’s 54th Street Theatre for the opening performance of Caligula., 16 Feb 1960


Gloria Vanderbilt ad campaigns


Ludwig II (Luchino Visconti, 1972). He was sometimes called the Swan King


Mirror, Mirror (Tarsem Singh, 2012)


Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in The Great Gatsby (Jack Clayton, 1974)


Leonardo di Caprio. Photo: Annie Leibovitz


Madonna. Photo: David LaChapelle


David Bowie


Ad campaign featured in Vogue, January 1997


Tory Burch swan-print wedge sandalias


Swan Evening dress by Charles James, 1951


Kate Moss wearing a Givenchy gown by Ricardo Tisci, Spring-Summer collection 2011


Giles Deacon Spring-Summer 2012 collection


Erin O’Connor wearing a gown by Alexander McQueen. Photo: Tim Walker


Eglingham Children and Swan on Beach, Tim Walker, 2002