Whether you style up with bulky sneakers and a windbreaker or patent leather shoes and a formal blouse, or maybe the classic black turtleneck top or a Stylos sweater. One thing is clear: the fashion scene at the faculty of architecture is something that cannot be missed. Even on a bigger scale, think starchitects, certain glasses, suits or hairdos become significant for an architect in fame. But how come architectural designers be so into fashion?
Well, here is the deal.
Both fashion and architecture are disciplines of applied art. In other words, architecture as well as fashion expresses taste and identity of an individual or society in products that are of common use. Clothes and buildings, in this case. The similarities between architecture and fashion are therefore found in the conceptualisation and the design process but also in the construction and functionality of the art piece.
One of the most common design strategies in architecture is the ‘analysis and synthesis’- approach. With this strategy the designer first takes the customer’s requirements and wishes, adds their own personal values and analyses the environment of the building site. These preconditions then are the basis from where the designer can start forming a conceptual design. However, alongside this analysis, one will also need to start the synthesis. This means the designer sometimes needs to step back, be critical and if necessary, adjust their design in order to form a complete and integrated whole. A trial-and-error process, really.
Contrary to the analysis, this synthetical element is not much named in education, even though it is very important towards the end of the design process. In fashion, the strategy of design is almost the same. It starts with the assignment and the designer’s own input and it ends with the cycle of improvement and synthesis. Therefore, fashion designers and architects design many variations and versions before the final design is ready to be presented.
However, one should not forget that architecture and fashion, being applied arts, are designed to be built or to be worn. The design needs to be functional, comfortable, constructible and in most cases also affordable. This extra layer of constraints, which other arts such as painting do not have, make architecture and fashion even more alike.
As of these resemblances, many fashion designers get inspired by architecture. Coco Chanel even stated, “fashion is architecture, it is a matter of proportions”. Viktoria Lytra, a Greek architect, thinks the same. On her blog Form Follows Fashion she posts montages of runway looks of famous designers and buildings, mostly with striking resemblance.
Reversibly, architects sometimes dive into the world of fashion. A great example of an architect involved in fashion is award-winning architect Julian Hakes with his Mojito Shoe. His firm Hakes Architects is now known for spectacularly constructed bridges designed through tension analysis. For his shoe, he did the exact same analysis with a human foot and designed a high heel based on the support the foot needs. The result is a shoe with only a sole at the heel and at the ball of the foot, so no middle part, because it was structurally just not necessary.
In short, fashion is architecture and architecture is fashion. Thus, fashion designers are secret architects and in many architects hides an undiscovered fashion designer. Both art disciplines design and develop from assignment and style through variations and improvements to a functional, comfortable and constructible design. A design that is made to last. Either on a building site or in fashion history.
Photo montage by Viktoria Lytra. Design Museum in Holon, Israel, designed by Ron Arad Architects and look from Comme des Garcons Ready-to-Wear, Spring 2015.
Essays, UK. (November 2018). Relationship between Architecture and Fashion. Retrieved from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/architecture/fashion-and-architecture.php?vref=1
Dubberly, H. (2008) How Do You Design: A Compendium of Models. San Francisco: Dubberly Design Office.
Lytra, V. (2019, 09, 20). Colors, Curves And Patterns. Form Follows Fashion. https://formfollowsfashion.gr/blog/
Hakes, Julian. (2014). Architecture and Fashion Connection [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Z5Hx1swQJw