Andrea Zittel Creates Dresses as Art


Are these dresses art because they are shown in an art gallery or are they dresses because they can be worn out of the door? Andrea Zittel is an artist well-known to some TreeHugger readers: Lloyd called her "our new role model" back in 2005.

She has moved on from designing habitats to designing dresses but they are still in keeping with her on-going theme: aesthetic investigations into the daily routines and experiences of everyday life.


Zittel's principle is that "rules make us more creative." The rule is that each dress must have shoulder straps and tie in front and back, like a double apron.

After that 22 different artists and artisans were invited to work with the fabric of their choice and decorate the dresses in any way that they wished. Every garment is different, using varying decorations, textiles, patterns, embroidery and colours.

The project, called The Smockshop, generates income for these artists, who are still non-commercial, in that they can't yet support themselves by their art alone. So far over 300 dresses have been made by the collective. They were shown in Berlin and now they are on display, and for sale in a very upmarket London art gallery.


The gallery is divided in half: the window facing the street is lined with a series of mannequins dressed in some of the creations. There are more on a long rail along the wall. In the middle of the room is a table with a sewing machine. That's where the artists work, cutting, sewing and fitting the dresses. Each one costs from £200-300 ($320-475).

It is has been called "slow fashion" in that the dresses are hand made, hand designed and produced at a slower pace. People are buying a product--a piece of clothing--but they are also buying a piece of art that has been lovingly and carefully created by an artist. The piece is associated with Andrea Zittel and her philosophy but it is also a consumer item, So art as dress, or dress as art...

More on Andrea Zittel
Andrea Zittel : our new role model
Coverage of Andrea Zittel in Switzerland
Chasing Andrea Zittel
New York Report: Andrea Zittel at the New Museum of Contemporary Art

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