More Than Meets the Eye in Kukula’s “Haute Debutantes”

Kukula's The Dalias. Image c/o The Closet Feminist and Kukula.
Kukula’s The Dalias. Image c/o The Closet Feminist and Kukula.


While we’re on the subject of art and fashion (which we are–I suppose it’s an Art Docent Program Fashion Week of sorts–so if you missed our article on artlexachung, check it out here), it’s only fitting that we discuss Kukula’s Haute Debutantes.

Nataly Abramovitch–better known as Kukula–is a young Israeli artist living and working here in the United States. Kukula was born in Tel Aviv and grew up in a relatively isolated village, and (according to her biography on her website) was “nourished by equal parts princess fantasies and World War II horror stories.” According to her website and an interview with RED Valentino, Kukula states that as a student, she would always fill her notebooks with sketches of princesses and fantasy worlds–which has informed much of her work today. Coupling that sense of fantasy with a sense of “attitude” as well as “reconciling real life horror with fantasy life sweetness” are themes Kukula deals with in much of her work–which looks at the surface as somewhat like surreal-prom-meets-Disney-princess-with-an-edge.


Kukula's The Dalias. Image c/o The Closet Feminist and Kukula.
Look at The Dalias. Image c/o The Closet Feminist and Kukula.



And this piece from Marchesa’s Spring 2016 line. Image c/o The Closet Feminist.
Now look at this piece from Reem Acra’s Pre-Fall 2015 line. Image c/o The Closet Feminist.




















Interestingly, a portion of Kukula’s work is also inspired by high fashion. After stumbling across this article on Kukula by The Closet Feminist while doing some research for the last article, I was introduced to Kukula and her series of Haute Debutante works. Each is inspired by a particular runway trend. According to High-Fructose (as quoted by The Closet Feminist), Kukula states that her Haute Debutantes reflect not the stuffy world of high fashion, but the debutante behind the clothes. Yes, Kukula’s subjects are well-dressed, but not overly concerned with fashion–except as an extension of their person and a reflection of their creativity. Kukula is quoted as saying that “[each debutante’s] knowledge and skill provide her a basis for creativity, allow her to transcend the accepted conventions. The haute debutante aspires to create a world of her own.”


Kukula’s The Three Graces. Image c/o The Closet Feminist and Kukula.


One of Reem Acra’s creations. See any similarities? Image c/o The Closet Feminist.


In each painting, Kukula sticks to her above statement, fleshing out a world unique to the debutante figure. Her work is surreal and Disney-esque–but not quite too-perfect. The Closet Feminist has matched many of Kukula’s pieces in the Haute Debutante series with pieces that correspond for inspiration–you can check out the full set here.


Valentino Couture Study by Kukula. Image c/o Kukula.


Giambatistta Valli Couture Study by Kukula. Image c/o Kukula.
















In addition, it’s important to point out that Kukula’s inspiration for this series comes as much from her own creativity as it does from high fashion–an  example of one form of art inspiring another. It’s also good to note that what might seem ridiculous and unnecessary to one person might be a great source of inspiration for another. Kukula’s work both validates and then questions the world of fashion. Is it a dream world or an inaccessible sphere? How does it treat its subjects? The answers are not necessarily clear-cut. In Kukula’s own bio she states that her works are “sometimes obscure.” And that’s okay.


Kukula’s The Last Party. Image c/o Kukula


What’s your opinion on Kukula’s Haute Debutantes? What do you take away from them?

Check out Kukula’s website for more!

Interested more in high fashion? The Closet Feminist does a great job of highlighting fashion news while holding high fashion accountable for its treatment of its models, subjects, etc.

And, as always, you can catch up with us at the Art Docent Program on Facebook or check out our website a bit more.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • email
  • Print
  • RSS

Leave a Reply