There are undeniable parallels between the creative disciplines of fashion and architecture; the two concepts are intrinsically linked for their incorporation of materials, structure and construction. At a youth event in Manchester, architect Julian Hakes argued that fashion can be described as ‘architecture for the body’. Over the decades, many designers have cited architecture as being one of their main sources of inspiration for the clothes they create, including Pierre Cardin, Jonathan Saunders and Paul Smith.
Since the last century, our love for heavily structured garments has ebbed and flowed. In the early 20th century garments were structured through the use of corsets in an attempt to exaggerate the contrast between a tiny waistline and a full-length skirt. However, after the abandonment of extreme corsetry in 1906, heavily constructed garments were rejected in favour of a more relaxed approach to femininity and dressing. Heavily structured garments were made popular again in 1964 when ex-civil engineer André Courréges launched his Space Age collection, giving structured garments a life of their own as they hung away from the body. Pierre Cardin followed suit by developing a structured fabric, Cardine, which made dresses appear moulded rather than stitched.
The incorporation of architectural styles in fashion was most prominent in the 1920s when Art Deco took the world by storm. The New York skyline, a reflection of progress and modernity, dominated imagery and became a rich source of inspiration in textiles and fashion. Contemporary fashion designers have also incorporated architectural theories into their garments, with Hussein Chalayan exemplifying this in his Autumn/Winter 2000 fashion show. The designer demonstrated how the static can become dynamic when one model stepped into the centre of a wooden coffee table, lifted it and transformed it into a skirt. This is just one example of how materials traditionally used in building construction are now being more commonly incorporated into design of clothes.
London’s architecture has been credited for being particularly inspiring for fashion designers. Saint Laurent’s Fall 2011 has been argued to take inspiration from London’s iconic Gherkin building through the use of geometric, diamond-shaped patterns. And as London Fashion Week approaches, our Instagram feeds will inevitably be filled with street style bloggers being photographed in front of the city’s most recognizable buildings, reminding us of the intrinsic link between architecture and fashion which has spanned for centuries.
Written by Catherine Loader. Image source style.com.