At first glance, it can be hard to see a connection between the world of fashion and the stone, brick and steel of some of the glittering exoskeleton buildings that populate the leading cities of the world. But, if you stop and think about it for a while, the link is obvious and not as tenuous as you would think. Both architecture and fashion start with an idea – then the idea is drawn, initial materials are sourced and costed and then the concept is created in model form with the wrinkles in design quite literally being ironed out before going into production as the finished article.
Perhaps that’s why we have seen so many prominent fashion designers cross over from studying architecture and allowing their creative juices to flow in other directions. Designers such as Pierre Cardin, Raf Simons and Gianni Versace along with Tom Ford to name but a few have all had a background of industrial/architectural design. What is architectures loss has been fashions gain as these designers have been responsible individually for some of the most innovative and exciting manifestations in the garment industry to date.
For example, Fernando Garcia a creative director of the highly successful Monse and Oscar de la Renta (and a degree level architect himself), has fond thoughts of leafing through leading fashion magazines such as Vogue when he should have been paying more attention during Notre Dame College lectures. He still maintains that his degree is useful in allowing him to proportion his clothes accordingly with a sense of balance – similar to constructing a building’s façade, for example.
‘The purpose of construction is to make things hold together; of architecture to move us.” – Le Corbusier
Virgil Abloh – a leading light of the Off-White brand has also created a capsule furniture collection and has worked with Ikea in addition to the highly successful clothing line. He also finds that having a degree in engineering is the perfect cross-over to inspire and enhance whatever medium of creativity is required. Both fields require aesthetics and beauty in the constructive process as well as a hands on practicality.
Just as building design and new materials innovate design briefs, the same can be said of the requirements of fashion. Recent technological advances in Computer Aided Design, laser cutting and even the recent development of the 3D printer have all been reflected on the catwalk allowing traditional and fast fashion to be implemented on a scale and speed that could only be gasped at the beginning of the last century; and from that point of view, have much in common with the speed and deadlines so often associated with modern architectural creations. Aesthetically, fashion designers are encompassing the world of design in a more broad sense to reflect the very times that we live in.
Designers such as Remy Renzullo, a former Wes Gordon luminary has broadened his brief to interior design and it may well be that in the future we will see fashion encompassing not just the catwalk, but the very fabric of the building itself. The great Le Corbusier once said that ¨the purpose of construction is to make things hold together; of architecture to move us” – it looks like he was right all along.
Article: Charles Daniel McDonald
Photography: Louis Vuitton / Zaha Hadid