What is Surrealism in Fashion? Here are The Answers

What is surrealist fashion?

Surrealism was a 20th-century artistic movement that rejected a rationalistic understanding of human experience in favor of one that tapped into the subconscious for creative possibilities. Surrealist art frequently showed this through the unique arrangement of things in a single image (one of the more well-known instances being Dali’s dripping clocks).

Surrealism in fashion accomplishes the same thing: clothing become object(s) that, simply by being displayed on the human body, are detached from their original context and take on a more fantastical or odd appearance.

When Teeanime talk about surrealist fashion, the movement’s subconscious origins are substituted with a more simplified interpretation of the term in which the apparent constraints of what we believe to be clothes are challenged through strange design features and parody.

How did surrealism first seep into fashion?


Surrealism in fashion was influenced by capitalism, not surrealist art. Early 20th-century beauty corporations realized that novelty would boost sales and began to sell lotions and powders in unique ways.

Dali’s 1935 telephone dial compact for Schiaparelli was a cosmetics-art partnership.

The dressing table was the’shelfie’ of its period, serving as a display of excellent taste and riches. Perfume bottles were gifts and ornaments. The container was as crucial as the product. Companies used miniatures and optical illusions to transform these things.

As designers exhausted new shapes, fabrics, and accessories in the 20th century, comedy and surrealism from the cosmetics industry began to cross-pollinate the catwalks.

Who Are Some Famous Surrealist Fashion Designers?


Hussein Chalayan

Chalayan is a conceptual fashion designer. His collections span fine art, theater, and furniture design. Trampolines make catwalk shows unconventional. He claims science fiction and genetic anthropology as influences, therefore his works are extravagant. His strange work challenges catwalk standards and how the body interacts with clothing.

Martin Margiela

Again, Margiela’s clothing is conceptual. The garment’s concept is as essential as the piece itself. Margiela regularly parodies garment design and the branding circus surrounding it.

The press calls him a “deconstructor” because he deconstructs fashion’s materials, components, and procedures, challenging the system while playing its game.


Moschino’s satire and humour have made it popular with younger consumers for over 30 years.

Their catwalks pervert social archetypes. From frantic housewives talking on the phone with rollers to alien Jackie O’s in Stepford-wives skirt suits, these are archetypes driven into the uncanny valley where something isn’t quite human.

Phillip Treacy

Milliner Treacy creates beautiful ship headpieces. He creates sculptural headpieces by pushing the limits of millinery. His sculptures perch on the head and organically follow the wearer’s movement, adding to the impression of performance. For example, this Ship headdress looks to be gliding across the sea against a clear sky.


In the 1930s, Schiaparelli’s whimsical aesthetic stood out in a sea of samey grandeur. Her debut outfit, a 1927 trompe l’oeuil sweater, sold out quickly.

Roberta Di Camerino used innovative printing processes to produce vibrant, cartoon-like ensembles in the 1970s.

Thierry Mugler

Mugler fluctuates between severe work-wear (power-suits and skirt sets in severe shades of cobalt blue or roal purple) and the fantastical. What these two extremes have in common is their structural integrity – the focus is on silhouette and form. His more fantastical collections of magical butterflies and dragonflies use feathers to create iridescent trains.

Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent developed collections that took art and made it wearable. His Lip Dress mimics Schiaparelli, who utilized a mouth across the breast to highlight a simple LBD.

The design company also drew inspiration from cubist Georges Bracques for a remarkable show in which models wore angular motifs at odd angles.

Saint Laurent describes fashion as a medium that can cultivate fantasies around visuals from many sources.

“I succeeded in becoming the magician who transforms… a mirror into a lake, glass into gems, ribbons into a forest, tulle into mist. The spells cast by the theatre seemed to me a more living and more luminous retreat than reality.”

Yves Saint Laurent