Monday, 7 January 2008

Architecture + Fashion = ArchiFashion

This is the dress that provoked my thoughts.


No, it wasn't the shape, the size nor the colors that amazed me but the glittering mosaic patterns reminiscent of Gaudi's Parque Guelle in Barcelona. These architectural patterns make me wonder ...would it be possible to combine fashion and architecture? If so, would the fusion be absolute? Or just complementary?

In the book Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture, authors Brooke Hodge, Patricia Mears and Susan Sidlaus examined the many overlaps and visual and intellectual principles that unite fashion and architecture:

"In recent years, the boundaries between architecture and fashion have become increasingly blurred, and this beautifully illustrated new book explores the intersections and concepts that underlie the two disciplines. Both architecture and fashion are based on the human body and on ideas of space, volume, and movement. Each functions as shelter or wrapping for the body—a mediating layer between the body and the environment—and can express personal, political, and cultural identity. Fashion designers and architects share much of the same vocabulary and similar techniques of construction: pinning, darting, folding, wrapping, draping. Fashion designers have always been able to achieve complex, often architectonic garments using fabric. Today, many architects are looking to fashion and techniques of tailoring as they attempt to achieve more and more complex forms using hard materials."

Staircase dress from Issey Miyake
Junya Watanabe and the Sydney Opera

The Loewe dress is an obvious example for "skin". It is a basic dress without the complexities of architecture in its structure, form nor the use of high-tech materials to call it a "bone". The pattern used is clearly inspired by one of history's finest architects---Gaudi. The use of intricate mosaic pattern in this dress is a "trademark" of the Spanish architect's use of broken ceramics in his designs, most of which have hallucinatory effect . It may not be as colorful as any of Gaudi's creations like the benches In Parque Guelle or his fairy-tale like buildings that lined up the streets of Barcelona but still the dominance of the mosaic and is but truly the architect's signature.

The dress and the Gaudi mosaic

alexander mcqueen

Airplane dress by Chalayan made from the same materials used in aircraft construction.Remote controlled. (photos from

Although it is quite clear that architecture and fashion (Archifashion) blend and complement each other, it is difficult to say to the marriage of the two will be absolute. Quite impossible, if I may say. Maybe in the runway it is, but in real life, would you really want to wear Hussein Chalayan's airplane dress? Imagine walking down Manhattan when suddenly you realized you lost your remote control. That would be a disaster.

In fifty years time, perhaps, the face of fashion will change and the use of materials unthinkable by mandkind will be the trend:brass skirts, steel stilettos, bubble wrap tops, and plastic stockings. Hussein Chalayan and other geniuses maybe giving us a glimpse of what's in store for us in the future but in the meantime, I'm okay with my soft silk nightgown...



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