Art to Wear

Wearable Art

Carole has perfected the art of painting on silk and she has been exploring the possibility of making paintings on ‘unprimed’ canvas since 1986 .

Carole Waller is a painter who specialises in painting with dye directly onto cloth for the purpose of making completely unique painted silk clothing – Art to Wear or Wearable art

She has perfected the art of painting directly onto silk,  making a wearable and washable painting with incredible richness of mark and colour.

Her silk clothes are contemporary, stylish and timeless.

The label is ‘I’m no walking Canvas’.

They can be purchased from the current available collection – either online, by visiting her gallery, or an upcoming exhibition.

Carole also makes pieces to commission, so that the perfect combination of style, cloth and colour can be yours. Email me or call 07803 033629 to discuss.


There is a richness to the palette in these clothes that supercedes printed fabrics and has real depth – the wearer is surrounded by colour and enjoys this in a visceral way – the clothes literally feel good and make people feel happy!

The painting is gestural and full of energy – colour and light.

Carole is uses Procion P dyes – fibre reactive dyes invented by ICI in 1956 and extremely colourfast and lightfast. They are thickened with sodium alginate , derived from sea weed so they can be used like transparent oil paint –  unthickened they are like water colours.

Most of the mark making is made with paint brushes and some of the images arrive on the cloth through placement screen-printing.

The finished painting is steamed to set the dyes into the cloth and washed before being cut out and contstructed by a local dressmaker.

The shapes are designed by Ray Harris in London

“Collecting drawings, paintings and sculpture is my lifelong passion, which is why it’s so amazing to wear a Carole Waller garment and find myself turned into a work of art!”

Bel Mooney, Columnist, Daily Mail

Art to Wear as a genre

In 1973 a gallery opened in New York which signalled the emergence of a new type of clothing in America – clothes made by artists.

The opening of Julie – Artisans Gallery  in Madison Avenue established the new genre of Art to Wear and was born out of the cultural revolution of that time in America.. Julie Schafler Dale’s  commitment to the movement continues and the gallery remained open for 40 years.

It was the first outlet for Carole Waller’s painted clothes.

Other pivotal galleries such as Gayle Willson in Southampton on  Long Island, Obiko in San Francisco, and Santa Fe Weaving Gallery in Arizona –  provided a platform to show and sell artworks as clothing throughout the 1980’s until today.

Subject matter exists in these clothes recognised by Julie – defining them in a new way to either ‘costume’ associated with theatre and dance – or ‘fashion’ as defined in its desire to flatter the wearer in an increasingly  materialistic consumer led society. Significant is the use of high quality handwork and craftsmanship which are almost in reaction to the increasingly technological society of that time.

Self expression has always been an integral aspect of choosing what to wear – clothing has always made both personal , social and political statements –  and has often been dominated by a sense of ‘appropriateness’ for given occasions. During the 1960’s and 70’s the idea of what was appropriate became determined by a more personal concept of the expressive possibility of clothing. Key figures, for Carole, of the first generation of Art to wear include Tim Harding,  Jean Williams Cacicedo, Robert Kushner, Ana Lisa Hedstrom, Judith Content and Julia Hill.

Clothing became a vehicle and primary mode of expression which has developed and thrived  into the 21st century  – expanding our acceptance and enjoyment of a huge variety of clothing styles and genres. Avoidance of categorisation , mixing of media and multiplicity of technique have characterised the sophisticated output of artists clothing which was in part initiated at this pivotal period in the 70s with the emergence of the Contemporary Craft revival of that time.

The genre came in the wake of the collaboration between Surrealism and fashion in the 1930’s when Salvador Dali and Elsa Schiaparelli collaborated for the wonderful ‘Lobster dress ‘ The collaboration has never waned.  The history of fashion is full of designers who refer to the surreal idea contained in Man Ray’s statement ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’. They believed that ‘beauty comes by chance because of the innately superior conditions of the subconscious to those that are controlled and regulated by reason’ Richard Martin “Fashion and Surrealism’

The history of art is full of examples of textiles and clothes designed by artists. Matisse, Sonia Delaunay and Paolozzi, are just three.

It was Mariano Fortuny in Venice as early as 1906 who symbolically and literally liberated the female form in the  by draping pleating dyed and painted fabrics to reveal the natural sculptural lines of the body.

Sonia Delaunay created garments which she called ‘living paintings’

Yves St Laurent , Issey Miyake , Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, John Galliano, Zandra Rhodes, Jean Paul Gaultier and Alexander McQueen, Vivian Westwood, Victor and Rolf, Hussein Chalayan all connect to that tradition of emotion, life and ideas being central to the conceptual inspiration of their clothing. Currently a host of designers are working with digital print in their collections – such as Jonathan Saunders, Peter Pilotti and Mary Katrantzou , bringing narrative and visual referencing back into mainstream fashion.

Many contemporary artists and fashion designers work with ideas about clothes including Nick Cave, Marian Schoettle, Freddie Robins, Lucy Orta, Caroline Broadhead, Susie Freeman, Helen Storey .

At their best these inspirational clothes are intelligent, full of wit, and a knowledge of the history of art and clothing.

All of the above have been an influence on the work of Carole Waller – as well as painters such as Robert Rauschenberg with his combines and screenprints, and Giotto for the monumentality, serenity and grace of images embedded in frescoes.

“Carole made a wonderful and unique outfit for my daughter’s wedding.”

Anne Selby, Textile Designer