Fashion and Architecture


This Friday, the first flock of sprightly models stomp down the London Fashion Week catwalk. Backstage, hair-dryers blow and bluster, make-up is painstakingly applied, models are pinned, prodded, pricked and poked in what is the biggest week of the year for British fashion. As this week of art, creativity and design kicks off, creative agency Wordsearch, which specialises in branding and communications for real estate and architecture, is pondering the connection that exists between fashion and architecture. The two disciplines share many bonds. They’re both art forms, both expressions; they both travel beyond the realms of imagination, and they happen to cross paths more than one may expect.

In the past, the only connection between fashion and architecture used to be the  so called ‘starchitects’ who would create blow out buildings for luxury fashion brands. Zaha Hadid  designed Stuart Weitzman’s sculptural flagship Milan store, and Renzo Piano fashioned French label Hermes’ glass fronted Japanese flagship. There is even a street in Tokyo, Omotesando Street, which is known as ‘architecture street’ by locals, for the amount of fashion stores designed by the likes of Jun Aoki, Herzog & de Meuron and SANAA.

However, in recent years collaborations have stretched further, and we now see architects collaborating with fashion designers and fashion houses paying homage to the structure and configuration found in architecture. Zaha Hadid has created shoes for Melissa, Lacoste, and most recently the NOVA shoe for United Nude. They feature cantilevered heels and chrome plating, and claim to be the first ever shoe to be created using rotation modelling. Not the most wearable pair it seems, but an intertwining of qualities shared by both architecture and shoe design; structure, design, integrity and shape.

More practical perhaps, are the boots designed by Frank Gehry for J. M Weston’s 2009 collection. “You shouldn’t have to differentiate between disciplines, shoes are very architectural
and always have been, and even more recently there are new shoes…(that are) buildings.‘ (Frank Gehry, Designboom)

Fashion designers themselves, have also looked to forms of architecture for inspiration. Hussein Chalayan’s most experimental design is a coffee table which turns into a skirt, whilst Issey Miyake uses pleats to create different architecturally inspired shapes. As Coco Chanel once said ”Fashion is architecture. It is a matter of proportion”.

In reverse, we tend to see architects reference fashion far less.  Perhaps due to its nature of being transient, temporary and fast moving, a direct contradiction of architects’ aims to produce buildings that transcend time and change. However, whether it’s the adoption by architects of techniques traditionally associated with dressmaking, such as pleating, folding, draping and weaving, or the way the outside of a building is described as ‘skin’, fashion is slowly positioning itself as a reference point for architects. For now, we can look forwards to the creative expressions that will arise as both disciplines continue to converge. After all, buildings and clothes are both structures which house the body, albeit on different scales.

Wordsearch is the world’s leading creative agency for architectural and real estate marketing.

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