Representing the creative future

@ArtGarments makes art personal through social media

The research-based account looks at art and fashion history in detail to create a satisfying narrative

Most people often forget that fashion is more than just clothes on a catwalk. Beautifully crafted garments are often hidden in plain sight – concealed in old paintings, hanging on white walls, in now-empty museums. But @ArtGarments is one of the few archival-based online spaces that bring these gems to a wider – probably much younger – audience by sharing original photos and videos, as well as images made available by museums and galleries.

The founder of @artgarments, who would rather remain anonymous, has no clue why their account is so successful. But the truth is that, through repurposed images and detailed close-ups of such unique pieces, people can get a glimpse of the paintings’ stories, as well as an overview of art and fashion history. “Every painting tells a story and depicts a world of its own,” says @ArtGarments’ founder. And people seem to connect with this world.

However, the value of @ArtGarments goes beyond that. With members like fashion journalist Sarah Mower or costume designer Sandy Powell, the account has become a tight community of over 136k art lovers who enjoy learning about fashion techniques, technologies, and histories.

To know more about @ArtGarment, we spoke to the founder about inspiration, the importance of sharing old garments in paintings, and the account’s future.

Sylvia, Frank Dicksee
Portrait of the Hon. Emily Mary Lamb, Aged 16
Maria Feodorovna, Ivan Kramskoi
Naked Woman Putting on Her Slippers, Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg
The Alba Madonna, Raphael
The Day Dream, Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“Social media radically changes the way we consume and experience art – we can engage with it in new ways, we can “own” it in a different way, and we can even reshape it and make it new somehow. Make it ours, make it personal.”

What inspired you to start @artgarments?

When I started @ArtGarments, I was fascinated by how close I could get to the paintings. It was suddenly no longer taboo to touch my nose to a painting and stare at it for my heart’s content, or to study its details. There was none of the hushed reverence and self-consciousness of being in a public “art space” or museum, no danger of stepping too close. I could get as close as I wanted and stare as long as I wanted. All these liberties with “Art” were what initially drove the account. And it still does.

It also brought art into the private space of my home, my laptop, my phone. I can coexist privately with a Boticelli, which is something fresh, new, and exciting, or at least was when I started the account five or six years ago.

Social media radically changes the way we consume and experience art – we can engage with it in new ways, we can “own” it in a different way, and we can even reshape it and make it new somehow. Make it ours, make it personal.

What else inspires you?

I’m always a student. I’m always curious. I like niche accounts, accounts that show variations on a theme. I love accounts that teach me something I didn’t know, or that show me something I can’t find or didn’t know existed.

I love Alice Rawsthorn‘s account for schooling me. She works around weekly themes and her account is visually stimulating and informative. I get bits of information at a time, a serialized lesson in the world of design. Kate Strasdin’s account is another one I look forward to and learn from.

What kind of material do you look for?

I like collections. The account is just a visual collection of items. I look for details that surprise, delight, or shock. I’m fascinated by changing fashion trends – recently I posted a series of closeups of miniature portraits worn as bracelets. These were really popular and fashionable but no longer are. I like to hunt for interesting details.

“It’s fascinating to imagine how things were made – by hand and with care.”

Series of closeups of miniature portraits worn as bracelets

Why is it important to share old garments in paintings?

It’s fascinating to imagine how things were made – by hand and with care. Of course, these are depictions of the very wealthy, who had access to luxury goods that others did not. Sometimes owning and wearing such goods was even forbidden by law. Having an image is a sort of ownership too, a sort of modern transgression.

Why do you think the existence of accounts like yours is important today?

I can’t speak to the way others use social media, but I know that the niche accounts that I follow loyally create a constant stream of information; a narrative that’s really satisfying. I hope @ArtGarments does that too.

“I’m interested in the creative process as a whole, and again, in learning – about art history, art-making, and fashion history.”

Portrait of a Dutch Lady
Madame Marcotte de Saint-Marie, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Napoleon I on his Imperial Throne Jean-August-Dominique Ingres
Pallas and the Centaur, Sandro Botticelli
Portrait of Joan Thornbury, Mrs. Richard Wakesman, Hans Eworth
Queen Elizabeth I, Marcus Gheeraerts

You have collaborated with curators in the past who have taken over @artgarments. Who would you like to collaborate with?

I’m interested in the creative process as a whole, and again, in learning – about art history, art-making, and fashion history. I’d love to collaborate with contemporary artists, with creators of historical garments, and with makers in general.

What’s the next step for @artgarments? Where do you see the account going?

I recently started posting reels with more details and even music. Punk music as the soundtrack for a Jacobean portrait can be grotesque and jarring, and I’m really enjoying that jolt to the senses. I love the shock of it. I’d also love to collaborate with others as I did with takeovers. You’ll also see @ArtGarments on TikTok very soon too.

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