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Fashion Inspired by Art: Albrecht Dürer’s “Rhinoceros”


Fashion, in its essence, is wearable art. And here at CF, we’re big believers in that idea. Whether we’re gaining inspiration from moviesbooksmusic, or visual art, our posts aim to prove that all creative mediums can influence one’s clothing choices.

For this week’s edition of Fashion Inspired by Art, we’ll be discussing Albrecht Dürer’s Rhinoceros. I hope you all enjoy!

An Unknown Creature: About Albrecht Dürer’s “Rhinoceros”

Albrecht Dürer’s “Rhinoceros”
Albrecht Dürer’s Rhinoceros (1515) [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons | Click to enlarge.

Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528) was a German artist, mathematician, and theorist who is most well-known for his incredibly detailed and lifelike woodcuts.

Woodcuts consist of pictures carved into the surface of a wooden block, which is then used as a stamp, transferring the image (flipped horizontally) onto another flat surface. Dürer was a true master of this process. Due to his knowledge of anatomy, as well as his artistic technique, he is now regarded as the most influential artist of the Northern Renaissance.

Dürer’s Rhinoceros is an especially unique example of his work, not only because of its richly textured appearance, but also due to its incredible back story. You may have noticed that this woodcut has some inaccurate details, such as the boned plating and the scaly legs — this is because Dürer never actually saw a rhinoceros before creating this woodcut! His depiction is based solely on a written account of the first rhinoceros to be shipped to Europe since the Romans thrived – sadly, the animal died in a shipwreck before making it to its new owner, Pope Leo X. Pretty crazy, right?

Outfits Inspired by “Rhinoceros”

Now that you’ve heard all about the piece, let’s check out some fashion inspired by this fascinating piece of artwork.

A Wonderful Woodcut

Fashion inspired by Art: Albrecht Durer's "Rhinoceros" - Outfit 1
Pants, Shirt, Heels, Cami, Earrings, Bracelets | Hair and makeup photo via ELLE

For this outfit, I chose dressier pieces to reflect the exotic nature of a rhinoceros in the sixteenth century.

I started by creating a basic black base for the look, with simple cropped pants, a racerback tank, and strappy heels. Then, I added visual interest and contrast with a silvery-gray crop top, slate-colored bracelets, and – of course – some rhino earrings. The wooden bracelets and intricate patterning of the lace top reference the detail of Rhinoceros without copying the woodcut exactly.

Pair this look with loose curls and a smokey eye and you’re ready for a dinner out downtown!

Scholarly Sweetie

Fashion inspired by Art: Albrecht Durer's "Rhinoceros" - Outfit 2: skater dress, clutch, flats
Dress, Scarf, Clutch, Earrings, Flats, Cuff | Makeup photo via ELLE

Here at CF, we are strong supporters of investing your dollars in wardrobe staples — or the pieces that every girl should own. And this look revolves around some basics that can easily be paired with almost anything to create a pulled-together outfit.

I started with a feminine skater dress, and added some cute black flats and geometric stud earrings. Then, to infuse the look with color and pattern, I added a bright patterned scarf, wood-print clutch, and rhino cuff. This is a great outfit for day-to-night transitioning, because you can easily throw on some sexy heels and lipstick and voila! Who knew you were going to start your day at the library and end up on a date at that hot new restaurant?

Textured Temptress

Fashion inspired by Art: Albrecht Durer's "Rhinoceros" - Outfit 3: Ripped jeans, tee, cardigan, sneaker wedges
Shirt, Nail Stickers, Sneakers, Jeans, Earrings, Cardigan | Hair and makeup photo via ELLE

If there’s only one thing that you take away from looking at Rhinoceros, it should be the beautiful, intricate patterns of the animal. I tried to capture that sense of varying, yet complimenting textures in this look.

The more rigid design aspects of the wooden earrings, rhinestone nail stickers, and heeled sneakers are complemented by the flowing cardigan, distressed jeans, and bedhead-like hairstyle. This is a perfect weekend go-to look, whether you’re grocery shopping or hosting game night. Trust me, I know your schedule is already so full with studying and social activities, so never underestimate the power of a cute, yet casual ensemble!

What do you think?

Have you seen or studied a Dürer work before? Do you enjoy his woodcuts? What do you think about the inspired outfits? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your opinions!

Posted on on February 20, 2013 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , ,

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17 Responses to “Fashion Inspired by Art: Albrecht Dürer’s “Rhinoceros””

  1. 1
    February 20th, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    I love all these looks! I’m really into Monochrome, and gray is my favourite “color”. Thanks also for introducing me to this artist. I love this column, and the fact that you really take inspiration from the art, it’s not just a carbon copy.

  2. 2
    February 20th, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Really cool and interesting! Love the outfits and the tshirt in outfit 2 is awesome!

  3. 3
    February 20th, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    You win. These are some of the best looks inspired by art I’ve seen on here. Even the last look, which isn’t my personal style at all, makes me want to go wear it right now. Well done.

  4. 4
    February 20th, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Loving the looks! It just goes to say, you can find inspirations from nearly anything!

  5. 5
    February 20th, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I would have never thought of it but these are some great outfits!

  6. 6
    February 20th, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    I love the dress and the sneakers! :)

  7. 7
    February 21st, 2013 at 12:05 am

    I love gray so this makes me oh so happy! And such a cool unique place to draw inspiration from!

    Buyer beware though on the new essie nail strips in the last look- no lasting power, they peel off easily without any remover, and only last maybe a night out. They have gorgeous patterns but you feel like there is heavy tape on your nails and they chip within the hour and need a top coat/you have to be careful while wearing them. All in all if you’ve tried Sally hansen’s nail art strips you’ll be very disappointed. at $10 a piece its a pricey manicure :/

  8. 8
    February 21st, 2013 at 3:30 am

    I’ve studied that. It was a gift from king Manuel I of Portugal to the Pope Clement XI in order to prove his right to the throne (king Manuel was not son of a king, his sister maried the previous king but they didn’t have any heirs. So Manuel got the throne and always did major events to prove his power gas new king of Portugal). Sorry about the history class. The looks are amazing!

  9. 9
    February 21st, 2013 at 6:07 am

    Wow, I am beyond impressed with these outfits. They all match my style favorites, darker and more moody colors with phenominal textures – two thumbs up!!!

  10. 10
    February 21st, 2013 at 7:21 am

    @Catarina I love history, I’m an art history and classics major! The rhino itself was actually a gift to Pope Leo X (who ruled from 1513-21), not Pope Clement XI (1700-21), as Dürer was not alive during Clement XI’s rule :)

    If you’re interested in a little more in-depth background on the piece, you can find it here via the British Museum (the owner of “Rhinoceros”):

    So glad you like the looks Catarina (and all the other lovely commenters)! I’m always excited for my next one and to see how you guys react!

  11. 11
    February 21st, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I learned about the rhinoceros, too! Though not in art history. I was in Marseilles touring the Isle D’If and was told that rhino was shipwrecked on the isle & lived out the remainder of it’s life there! That’s what they told me on d’if, though I’m having trouble finding any other evidence or accounts to back that up…

  12. 12
    February 21st, 2013 at 9:21 am

    AH! Here:

    My memory was partially correct :^)

  13. 13
    February 21st, 2013 at 9:25 am

    @Zihna Thank you so much for sharing! It’s amazing to see how influential this woodcut still is today, with recent articles about it found in blogs/newspapers around the world, like that article from The Times of India!

  14. 14
    February 21st, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Freaking love this. Do more like this please!!!

  15. 15
    February 21st, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    @Lexie Glad you’re enjoying my posts! They go up every other Wednesday, so stay tuned for more soon :)

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