It is a world where dreams become reality…where the imagination is given free reign to explore what is and what could be…such is the world of surrealism. Artists from the 1920s movement like Salvador Dali allowed the canvas to become the vehicle to help communicate imagery that would otherwise only exist in their subconscious.
Butterflies, clocks and landscapes dominate original surrealist works like Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” from 1931 (pictured above), while also remaining prevalent in more modern works like Vladimir Kush’s “Departure of the Winged Ship” from 2000 (below).
Butterflies represent ideas like metamorphosis and growth, while simultaneously showcasing a delicate beauty. The symbol of the butterfly, combined with that of clocks and their representation of time, communicates a message of natural change that takes place across the landscape of time.
Fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli joined the movement in the 1920s and 1930s with famous frocks that included the lobster dress collaboration with Dali. She also embraced the butterfly imagery with a design in 1937.
Like Schiaparelli, modern day designers continue to find inspiration in the surrealist imagery, as was evident on the Fall 2016 Alexander McQueen runway. Designer Sarah Burton used surreal symbols like clocks, lips and butterflies throughout the collection. She created modern day butterfly dresses like that of Schiaparelli's 1937 creation, using lace, sheer overlays and modern lines to update the early 20th century Schiaparelli concept.
In addition to the fabric motif, Burton also designed the pieces to have the lines like those of a graceful butterfly, with sheer fabric draping over the arms and shoulders and strategic cutouts to help mimic the wings of a butterfly.
The butterflies also became a bit more proper in suit form, with more subtle cut outs in the skirt.
Dashes of shocking pink also made an appearance as a small nod to Schiaparelli's signature color.
Dali, "Landscape with Butterflies," 1956
The delicacy of a bralette flutters across the skin like a butterfly’s wings, a continuation of the theme in form and not just fabric selection.
So as you bid farewell to the day and drift into your next dreamscape, open your eyes, because the dream may just be tomorrow's reality.
Runway Photos: Vogue.com