Would you wear a concrete dress and live in a cotton building?
Fashion is ephemeral. Architecture is permanent. Fashion moves. Architecture is still.
At first glance, fashion and architecture are at polar opposites, two artistic fields in isolation. But, look again and you might find that they are two sides of the same coin.
Fashion and architecture have been in creative conversation for a very long time, both, the designer and the architect use geometry to generate forms, they create structure, design lines and shapes. Fashion is dressing bodies, and architecture is dressing places. In Coco Chanel words: “Fashion is architecture. It is a matter of proportion.”
The fusion between architecture and fashion appears to be in vogue right now. The on-going interplay, overlap, and overplay amid fashion and architecture continues to evolve in innovative, unexpected and bold ways easily detectable in stores’ window displays, brands, collections, buildings and fashion shows. On one side of the coin is the architect who has to figure out how to make the building stand-up and last, but just flip the coin and there is the fashion designer who has to design garments that can work on the body. Pierre Balmain, the late French fashion designer once said, “Dressmaking is the architecture of movement.”
Silver leather skirt with sharp angles, crisp folds & perforated line patterns, SS14, Issey Miyake & Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Frank Gehry
As fashion design mavericks like Hussein Chalayan, Issey Miyake, Iris van Herpen, Gareth Pugh, Alexander McQueen, Rei Kawakubo and Junya Watanabe adapt the shapes and forms of architectural structures to the human body, the wizard architects like the late Zaha Hadid, Thomas Heatherwick, Rem Koolhaas and Frank Gehry pleat, wrap and weave building materials much like designers would fabrics.
Fashion and architecture as artistic visual fields represent ideas of personal, social, and cultural identity, depicting our interests and assuming the role of memento for specific periods. Throughout history the bond between fashion and architecture has been complicated, sometimes unpredictable, but at the same time invigorating and stimulating. As they are both commercial masteries, their paths will continue to overlap and intermingle. The architectural backdrop in fashion in omnipresent, from Fondazione Prada and Louis Vuitton’s Foundation to the extravagant cruise fashion shows in out of this world surroundings where the location overpowers the show, and finally in the architecture background of the fashion giants like Pierre Balmain, Gianfranco Ferré and the latest example Virgil Abloh.
Today, both fashion and architecture landscapes have been completely transformed by the internet, and fashion designers who join forces with architects are reinventing the modern experience of creativity, by creating “Instagram-worthy” garments exhibited in an “Instagram-worthy” space. The supreme synergy between fashion designers and architects is visible everywhere around us, while architecture gives us the spaces we live and work in, high fashion is constructed to give us wearable art. Ultimately, are we ready to ‘renovate fashion’ and ‘alter architecture’?