Surrealist painter Rene Magritte had no trouble imagining naked women with fish heads or creepy adult-baby hybrids, but he might never have imagined that nearly 50 years after his death, fashionistas would be strutting around wearing his art. In Opening Ceremony’s wild new collection, 12 of the Belgian artist’s most famous images are plastered onto clothing, as well as Manolo Blahnik stilettos, Birkenstock sandals, and Vans sneakers.
Magritte aimed to make “everyday objects shriek aloud.” In this latest of many recent designer collections to draw on major artists for inspiration, Magritte’s work makes skinny jeans, Bermuda shorts, bomber jackets, and mini-dresses shriek aloud. Motifs like bowler hats, umbrellas, green apples, and roses abound in these pieces. Manolo Blahnik collaborated with Opening Ceremony in designing a stiletto that features the sword-wielding rose from “The Blow to the Heart.” Characters from The Lovers, a haunting painting of shrouded figures that obliquely references Magritte’s mother’s suicide, are printed on Birkenstock sandals–maybe shoppers should read up on the dark backgrounds of some of these works before cheerfully flaunting the new collection.
It’s not the first time Magritte’s universe has influenced contemporary fashion. Commes des Garcons, Viktor & Rolf, and Moschino have all referenced his strange but playful and accessible aesthetic, incorporating bowler hats, birdcages, pipes, and shrouded faces into their designs and runway shows. One Perry Ellis ad riffed on Magritte’s The Son of Man, featuring a plaid-wearing male model biting a green apple. But Opening Ceremony’s collection marks the first time his paintings have been transformed directly into clothing–most creepily, Sheherazade is now a dress in which painted lips and eyes peer through cutouts, as if the wearer has a second face on her chest.