To be totally honest, I was inspired to write the book because I felt that the subject of Minimalism as it pertained to fashion had been omitted from fashion scholarship, for the most part. The word ‘ minimalist’ is so often used in fashion criticism, but it has kind of avoided formal definition previous to this point. Though Rebecca Arnold has presented a compelling examination of 1990s sartorial minimalism, in various forums, I felt it was important to trace the genesis of the style—artistically and culturally—in order to clarify its relationship to minimalist design in other mediums and to understand its relevance and impact to movements of “(post-)modernity” in fashion. I suppose the most interesting discoveries emerged as a result of the study of product development across disciplines. For example, it was exciting to see the pared down shapes of Courreges and Cardin in the 1960s—executed as they were in luxury fabrics or new synthetics—adapted as minimalist staples by the emerging ready-to-wear market, and then to juxtapose them with Judd’ s Cadmium series – boxes that he had produced in quantity by industrial workshops, but exhibited in prestigious New York art galleries. I suppose that example also beckons the minimalist conflict between high and low, commercial and elite. As a more contemporary, and perhaps more straightforward example, there’s Nicolas Ghesquiere’s Spring 2008 collection, with its refined architectonic shapes, and it’s quite easy to see its kinship to objects produced by Ron Arad and Anish Kapoor. These all demonstrate a neo-minimalist aesthetic where surface embellishment is reduced in favor of a clean exterior, but more importantly, each of these objects is clarified through technologically-advanced materials and digital design programs. They each relate so strongly to their architecture…which I think is a very significant departure point for minimalism in general.
Richard Roth 2006
Wollheim coined the term “minimalism” in the celebrated essay Minimal Art (1965), in which he addressed monochrome painting and the “readymades” of Marcel Duchamp, seeking examples that met the minimal criteria a work of art must meet. This was, however, more a philosophical inquiry than a critical investigation into an art to which he was particularly devoted. The acceptance of these objects as works of art “gives rise to certain doubts and anxieties, which a robust respect for fashion may suppress but cannot effectively resolve”.