London-based designer Edeline Lee hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday titled Dressed for the Art World.
Co-hosted by the Association of Women in the Arts, the event was held at Fenwick, a London department store.
The talks were moderated by Harper’s Bazaar UK features director Helena Lee. No stranger to the art world, Lee also edits the annual magazine Bazaar Art which celebrates women in the arts and is responsible for the programming of the Bazaar Art Week.
Lee was joined by panelists Polly Robinson Gaer, Indre Serpytyte-Roberts, Nazy Vassegh and Linsey Young, who offered their unique insights as gallery directors, artists and curators, for an evening of thoughtful discussion on what it means to be a woman in art, and how best to dress for the event-heavy industry.
The panel was the second event in a series of Women and Power talks hosted at Fenwick, following Lee’s first successful Beauty vs Brains discussion last month. The series is a companion to the label’s AW19 presentation which paid homage to Professor Mary Beard’s seminal text Women & Power, a manifesto exploring “the public voice of women and our cultural assumptions about womens’ relationship with power.
“I’ve wanted to talk about this subject many times before, but in a room of such talented and empowering women, I was worried the subject would feel too frivolous,” said moderator Helena Lee in her introduction.
Far from frivolous, the evening’s discussion spanned a wide variety of themes – from practical advice on the best travel-friendly iron to frank discussions on how to deal with implied sexism in the workplace.
The panel’s biggest takeaway was the importance of a uniform. Be it Gaer’s white shirt obsession (she admitted to owning more than 120 iterations, which she has custom-made in Paris) or Young’s penchant for Hermes’ Terre d’Hermes fragrance, these women affirmed that developing sartorial signatures and favouring classic pieces, is the best way to be taken seriously and to feel prepared for all occasions.
The women also admitted to the pressure of dressing well that exists in such a visually-conscious industry. Jokingly, they admitted that there was “no point” in trying to make a statement at work, when standing next to billionaire art collectors who would almost definitely always dress better. They also criticised the advice many of them had been given throughout their careers to tone down their appearances.
“I didn’t want to apologise for liking clothes,” said multi-disciplinary artist Indre Serpytyte-Roberts. “If my work doesn’t speak for itself, then my wardrobe shouldn’t have to.”