David Hockney – Fashion Icon

When you think of David Hockney an image of him may spring to mind fairly easily. This image may include his bright blonde hair, round thick rimmed spectacles, a bold clash of colours, or maybe a cardigan and a pair of brightly mismatched socks. Whichever iconic fashion choices spring to mind I bet you see them all worn with a such a casual ease that looks so natural on him.

So strong and positively received are David Hockney’s fashion choices that he has been a significant influence to the world of design. Sir Paul Smith and Christopher Bailey have both designed collections around Hockney’s strong sense of style. When the David Hockney Gallery at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in Bradford first opened in 2017 we were delighted to have some of the outfits that Christopher Bailey designed for Burberry on display within the gallery. These outfits included a bright red trench coat paired with a white and green striped rugby shirt and a pair of canary yellow jeans, shown alongside a cerulean silk artist jacket that was paired with a turquoise shirt, red tie, forest green linen trousers and red shoes.

Meanwhile Yves Saint Laurent, Michael Kors, Osman and Kym Ellery have all been influenced by the bright saturated colours that cross over from Hockney’s wardrobe into the colour palette of his artworks. Bill Gaytten even named his catwalk collection Big Splash in homage to Hockney’s 1967 painting A Bigger Splash.

With the David Hockney Gallery at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery having a unique collection of early works by the artist hung alongside more contemporary pieces we are unique in showing the development of his colour palette which features both in his fashion choices and his artworks.

An early self-portrait collage in the collections of Bradford Museums and Galleries shows a young David Hockney, aged 16 years, who was still living in Bradford. You can definitely tell that it depicts Hockney, but this early portrait was created before he developed some of the distinctive features that we associate with the artist today. Here he has a mop of dark brown hair and a pair of indistinctive NHS glasses. However, even at this early age you can see that he has already started to add the bold pops of colour to his wardrobe with the bright blue coat, red scarf and yellow necktie.

The rest of David Hockney’s iconic style developed outside of Bradford. Whilst in America Hockney and a friend saw a Clariol television advert that declared that Blondes have more fun.  After they saw this advert they went straight out to buy hair dye, and for Hockney the style stuck. Then in 1964 Hockney saw a pair of horn-rimmed glasses in an optician in Iowa City, and in a desire to appear more professional his first pair of round spectacles were purchased. This fashion choice has become such a recognisable feature of Hockney that we even used it as the branding for our David Hockney Gallery.

This summer we have seen a combination of Hockney’s artworks and his own fashion style become inspiration for another designer. Tracey Samuel, designer and founder of the brand Bonnie Mob created her 2021 summer collection titled Pool Party around the bright Californian colours and motifs of Hockney’s works. This children’s line is full of fun characters including Hockney’s dachshund dogs peeking their heads out of pockets, happy little cactus plants, his infamous swimming pools and some bananas mirroring the bright yellow of Hockney’s palette which have been Hocknified by giving them each a pair of iconic round spectacles to wear!

Tracey has been kind enough to gift us some of these pieces to display in the David Hockney Gallery at Cartwright Hall where they mirror many of the works around them. Tracey says:

For me, Hockney is a magician with colour. His combination of creativity, eccentricity and ability to adapt to the next new thing makes him a true genius and an amazing role model for our future little artists and makers. For Spring Summer ’21. We’ve immersed ourselves in all things David Hockney. You’ll find gentle nods to Hockney’s style and his use of colour. From the iconic Californian pool paintings to the bright fun iPad drawings, the polaroid photo collages, his adored dachshund dogs, his signature round specs and of course, his charming fashion sense and iconic cardigans!

On your next visit to Cartwright Hall Art Gallery have a look at this new display and see which of the motifs you can see in the works currently on display.

Check out our website for Cartwright Hall Art Galleries current opening times www.bradfordmuseums.org

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