The Art of the Casual: “If It’s Good Enough For Picasso, It’s Good Enough For Me!”

Pablo Picasso at his Villa La Californie in Cannes, September 29, 1955 George Stroud for Getty Image

Decades after Pablo Picasso died in 1973, his impact on art remains omnipresent, as does his influence on fashion. Picasso’s work stirred the imagination of Yves Saint Laurent, and it continues to inspire others.

Picasso is universally renowned as one of the most influential and celebrated artists of the 20th century, and rightly so. But a style icon? Mais Oui!

“Confidence, when it comes to style, is very much “the secret stuff,” and when looking back at photos of Picasso — particularly ones taken in Cannes near his vacation home — it’s hard not to be drawn to the things he wore and the way he wore them.”

Jake Woolf,

Pablo Picasso was known for mixing patterns Photograph by Pepperfoto for Getty Images

When one thinks of Pablo Picasso, his fashion sense is likely not the first thing that comes to mind. Still, the Spanish painter had a marvelous style, especially in the south of France. “To many, he is considered one of the more ‘off-kilter’ style leaders of his generation,” observes Teo van den Broeke, British GQ’s award-winning Style and Grooming Director.

Let: Picasso wearing his white sweatshirt, Photograph by Lipnitzki for Getty Images Right: Supersoft Fleece Boyfriend Sweatshirt, $134,

To wit, Picasso is the subject of countless articles. Among the style essays that have resonated with me: “Why You Should Steal Pablo Picasso’s Style This Summer” ; “Pablo Picasso Is the Unheralded King of Summer Style” ; “Three Unexpected Style Lessons From Mr. Pablo Picasso” . While these were penned a few years ago, and directed at males, they are just as relevant now, given the pervasiveness of genderless fashion.

Left: Pablo Picasso wearing a button down and shorts in Cannes, Photo by Gjon Mili for Getty Images Right: Diana Cotton Button Down Shirt, $245,

In each case, Picasso’s simplified yet idiosyncratic fashion sense masters the art of everyday casual wear, mixing form and function. There is a mischievous playfulness to how Picasso spontaneously mixed patterns and prints. In the same way, Picasso broke the rules of art, he increasingly learned to break the rules of fashion, putting his own uniform into place.

“It takes an artist to understand the power of sticking to a singular aesthetic. Just as Picasso made his name through the prism of cubism, he also manufactured a unique identity through the prism of his wardrobe”

Teo van den Broeke, British GQ’s award-winning Style And Grooming Director

Left: Pablo Picasso in France, 1949, wearing a red utility shirt, Photograph by Mr. Gjon Mili via Getty Images Right: Sergine cotton shirt in Firely Red, $245,

Pablo embraced the kind of unisex wardrobe staples we all rely on, particularly during the easy breezy days of summer when everything should be uncomplicated: button-down shirts, camp shirts, polo shirts, shorts, bermudas, sweatshirts, terry cloth loungewear, jazzy printed cotton pants, multi-pocketed utilitarian jackets, quirky straw hats, huaraches, and slippers.

Left: Pablo Picasso wearing plush terry cloth leisurewear and slippers, Photographed by Arnold Newman, 1956 Right: Relaxed terry top, $16, and shorts, $20, in Phoebe Pink,

And then, of course, those signature Breton tops cemented Pablo’s place in fashion folklore. Pablo wore them short and long sleeved; with bateau necks, polo collars, and crew necks; in black and white or navy and white; thin or wide striped. Picasso’s famous marinières entered many of his outfits, sometimes incongruously topped with a large overcoat and hat.

Left: Pablo Picasso wears his Breton top at breakfast, 1952 Photo by Robert Doisneau Right: Ralph Lauren Striped Boatneck Jersey Tee, $128,

I can easily connect the dots between Picasso’s style, his artwork, and Colville’s colorful, patterned ready-to-wear and accessories.

Left: Pablo Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror, 1932 Right: Colville Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear Photo Courtesy of Colville

The eclectic British womenswear label was founded in 2018 by three fashion veterans: former Marni designers Molly Molloy and Kristin Forss and fashion stylist Lucinda Chambers, the British fashion director, designer, and stylist who worked at British Vogue for over 35 years.

Pervading their culturally informed aesthetic is an easy, relaxed, and sporty attitude with a touch of quirk, which resonates loud and clear. It’s right up Picasso’s alley. No doubt he would approve.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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