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Fashion Inspired by Art: Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss”


Fashion, in its essence, is wearable art. Think about the clothes you’re wearing now: someone designed them, manufactured them, advertised them, and then you bought them and combined them into your own look! Here at CF, we’re big believers in this idea: from movies to books to music and more, our posts aim to prove that all creative mediums can inspire one’s clothing choices.

In this installment of Fashion Inspired by Art, we’ll be discussing Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, which is perfect for you because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Check out these looks made for various Valentine’s Day plans for some ideas on how to dress girly without necessarily covering yourself in red and pink. I hope you all enjoy!

Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss"
Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss (1907 – 08) [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918) was an Austrian symbolist artist whose paintings primarily depicted the female form. While the figures in his works appear realistic, the surrounding elements clearly show the contemporary influence of Art Nouveau.

The Kiss depicts a man and a woman locked in a passionate embrace, oblivious to the rest of the world. The work was created during Klimt’s “Golden Period”, when the artist frequently used gold leaf in conjunction with oil paint to obtain a decorative Byzantine style often seen in medieval illuminated manuscripts. Gold leaf, comprised of extremely thin pieces of hammered gold, was used to add intense shine (and, of course, value!) to pieces. By combining this medieval material with the organic, patterned look of Art Nouveau, Klimt, with The Kiss, created a work that nods to traditional art while incorporating the modern style of the early twentieth century.

Outfits Inspired by “The Kiss”

The Embrace

Gustav klimt fringe dress outfit
Necklace, Ring, Dress, Blazer, Flats, Nail Polish

The man and woman are the most visually striking elements of the painting, and also contain that majority of the work’s details.

To replicate the complicated, complementary patterns of their clothing, I chose pieces with one specific detail apiece to create an interesting, but not overwhelming look. The dress is a simple LBD with long fringe, the blazer has a unique horizontal zipper, and the shoes are adorned with gold sequins in a geometric pattern. Finish the look with a ring and some gold nail polish and you’re ready for anything… maybe even a first date with that cutie from class!

There’s Love in the Air

Gustav klimt lace overlay outfit
Ring, Tights, Heels, Dress, Necklace | Makeup photo via ELLE

This outfit is inspired by the gold background of the painting, which plays upon the dichotomy of past and present.

To recreate this idea in an ensemble, I chose pieces that are timeless, but that incorporate a few trendy twists. I used small elements of gold in the accessories (gold-seamed tights, gold buckle straps) to dress the look up a bit, while nodding to the gold leaf in the painting. Add a well-fitted black jacket and you’re ready for dinner and dancing on V-Day.

Nature’s Caress

Gustav klimt floral dress outfit
Earrings, Wristlet, Flats, Dress, iPhone Case, Hair Comb| Makeup photo via ELLE 

The bed of flowers depicted beneath the figures inspired this fun, laid-back ensemble. The dress is a literal representation of the flowers, while the hair comb, earring, and blush all serve as reminders of the gold leaf technique used to add shine to the piece. This would be a great outfit to wear out with your girlfriends for brunch on Galantine’s Day — just remember to add some tights and a cute jacket if it’s still cold where you live!

What do you think?

Have you seen or studied a Klimt work before? Do you enjoy his style of painting? 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 6, 2013 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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25 Responses to “Fashion Inspired by Art: Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss””

  1. 1
    February 6th, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    One of my favorite paintings ever! Love all of these outfits too :)

  2. 2
    February 6th, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    How ironic! I blogged something similiar after I dreamt Klimt designed a dress for me. Check out my variation that I posted yesterday.

  3. 3
    February 6th, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I love that this was just posted! I literally just hung this print up in my room! Klimts work is just amazing, been in love with his style since highschool.

  4. 4
    February 6th, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    The link to the red flats doesnt work. where are they from?

  5. 5
    February 6th, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    @Elena Hm, that’s odd, it’s working fine for me. They are from Forever 21, they’re called “D’Orsay Pointed Toe Flats” if you need to search manually :)

    Here’s the link to the red flats again:

  6. 6
    February 6th, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    I especially love the jewelry in all of these! But I think the “cuff” in the middle outfit is actually a ring, according to the Etsy page

  7. 7
    February 6th, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Fantastic outfits! <3 Can't wait for more of your articles

  8. 8
    February 7th, 2013 at 4:15 am

    oh my goodness i love these outfits so much! the first one is absolutely perfect, but all could work for either school or work and i am in love with the painting as well, great post!

  9. 9
    February 7th, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Love the idea! You need to do Mucha & Monet stat.

  10. 10
    February 7th, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Austrian art ftw! :D God, I love Klimt…
    It’s so funny when you think about how my ancestors were actually well acquainted with Gustav Klimt and other painters. ^.^
    Man, I miss working at my old summer job, constantly surrounded by works from Egon Schiele, Franz Wiegele, Anton Mahringer (!), Sebastian Isepp, Anton Kolig, Helga Druml (!), …

  11. 11
    February 7th, 2013 at 8:16 am

    I love this! Gustav Klimt is one of my favorite artists! :)

  12. 12
    February 7th, 2013 at 8:42 am

    What a great idea! I’d love to see more fashion inspired by art.

    I love Klimt- he’s one of my favorites. I went to Vienna to the Belvedere and saw the Kiss in person- it was spectacular!

  13. 13
    February 7th, 2013 at 9:18 am

    as a fellow austrian, i cannot express how much i love this painting, the artist and the time/style! you can spot art nouveau all over town in vienna, and the kiss live is absolutely stunning. there even is a tv ad featuring it, which is kinda cute. (you can check it out here: )

  14. 14
    February 7th, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    I love all of these!!!!

  15. 15
    February 8th, 2013 at 2:57 am

    Thanks so much for linking to our iPhone case! (p.s. You can use the coupon code ‘Cupid13′ for 10% off your order at Insomniac Arts through Valentine’s Day!)

  16. 16
    February 8th, 2013 at 3:50 am

    I love the idea of taking inspiration from a painting ! :] that seems like such an original idea please do more like this! :] :] :]

  17. 17
    February 8th, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I am literally chocked! One of my teachers gave us an assignment not so long ago to create and make a dress according to Klimt’s work! And I live in France! Haha the coincidence is just too much!

  18. 18
    February 8th, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    For more “The Kiss” news happening right now, check out this Syrian artist’s depiction of the painting superimposed on a destroyed building in Damascus via The Huffington Post:

    Made over 100 years ago and still relevant today! :) Art is all around us.

  19. 19
    February 8th, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    Love this, so much! I’m a total art history geek, and Klimt is up there near the top of my favorites. One of the biggest regrets I think I will have in life is being in Venice while there was an exhibit of his works there and not getting to see it.

    I followed the link for the cuff, and found that it was a ring, not bracelet, on Etsy. You don’t have any clue if there is a similar cuff in existence, do you?

  20. 20
    February 9th, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Thanks go out to @Elyse and @Ren, for pointing out my error in marking the first look’s ring as a cuff. It’s still totally gorgeous, though!

    For those of you looking for an actual bracelet, here are a few I found on etsy while making these looks:

    Again, sorry for the mix-up! Love hearing back from you all! :)

  21. 21
    February 16th, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Love it! Really creative

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