Sunday, March 6, 2011


I think one of the most interesting aspects of art and fashion is the way they reflect on culture. Because there are very few cultures in isolation today, it is interesting to see the ways in which artists and designers alike explore cultural exchange in an increasingly globalized world.

An artist whose work investigates this concept is Philip Taaffe (b. 1955).

Inspired by Matisse's cutouts and synthetic Cubism, Taaffe creates collaged paintings that reflect his travels throughout the Middle East, India, South America, and Morocco.

His process involves a synthesis of printing, collage, and painting, that result in complex multilayered canvases.

The resulting works not only capture the beauty of the inspiration, they also function on a Post-Modern level as appropriation art.

The appropriation from Spanish, Islamic, and Byzantine sources (among many others) combined with their unique composition give these works the ability to appeal aesthetically as well as make a statement about cultural exchange.

"His motifs are his motives, however impure and complex." --Greg Hilty on Philip Taaffe

I emulated Taaffe's work by pairing a vintage dashiki with ethnic bangles and tall boots to ground the look.

This dashiki is one of the most versatile pieces in my closet--here, it functions as a more polished dress, but it also easily translates into beachwear (with woven sandals and a floppy hat) or a casual tunic over leggings and boots.

I'm wearing a vintage printed cotton dashiki, vintage suede and leather belt, Dolce Vita suede boots, and Indian bracelets.

[Taaffe images from,,,, and, respectively.]


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