A wise woman once said:
Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.
That woman was Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, the founder of (you guessed it) Chanel. Always a prolific thinker, Chanel approached fashion with an artistic lens and gleaned inspiration from her time at the Aubazine Abbey to the horizontal stripes of French sailors (later known as the Brenton stripe). She believed that fashion should not only cover it's back, that it should speak for itself. She wanted her designs to reflect who she was as an artist, to take on a personality of its own.
During her time, she and so many other designers (Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, and Hubert de Givenchy to name a few) saw fashion as an art form. Their designs quite literally changed the face of fashion forever, bringing in totally new concepts and ideas in a post-war world. Since their humble beginnings, these houses have come to reflect the constantly changing world of fashion and it's ability to adapt to whatever the world throws at it, combining both artistic skill and innovation.
So, why do people view it as some sort of frivolous material item?
I mean, I can see why they might see it in that sort of light? some brands are overexposed such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, adorning the bodily forms of both rappers and YouTubers alike. Then does it become a material object, an item that separates the haves and have-nots. We lose the artistry, the craftsmanship in a couture piece when we begin viewing it as something frivolous rather than something to admire, to be fascinated by.
Is there problematic behavior within the fashion industry? sure there is. Ads in fashion magazines and its link to poor self-esteem have been a hot-button issue in society for decades now, claiming that these images promote unrealistic standards of beauty for young women (which, they often do). There's also the issue of cultural appropriation in the fashion industry, which becomes a never-ending round of "they said it was okay" and "we didn't say it was okay".
What I'm trying to say is this: fashion is an art form. It reflects a moment in time, a way of thinking. It, along with other artistic pursuits, represents the people who lived in that time whether we like it or not. The annual Met Gala, organized by Anna Wintour herself, recognizes fashion's contribution to the world of art. She believes that both fashion and art go hand-in-hand, one cannot survive without the other.
Fashion is art, you can't change my mind.