Marchesa Fall/Winter 2008 | Kawasaki Daishi. (Image via Marchesa and wine-montrachet)
High fashion takes inspiration from all sources, from the natural world to fine art. But perhaps there is no better synergy than that between fashion designers and architects. While architecture gives us the spaces we live and work in, high fashion is constructed to give us wearable art.
Designers who dabble in architectural fashion use their materials as building blocks, constructing a wearable form in the same manner architects utilize concrete, cement, and glass to build up their structures. Fashion giants such as the late Pierre Balmain and Gianfranco Ferré even come from an architecture background. Balmain was clear in his enthusiasm for incorporating architectural elements into his designs, stating “dressmaking is the architecture of movement.”
Hallmarks of fashion inspired by architecture include exaggerated proportions and swooping angles and particular attention to construction and shapes. To create a three-dimensional, architectural look, fabrics are often manipulated through pleating, folding, and layering in order to build up the final effect.
These days, fashion houses like Balenciaga, Marchesa, and Chloé have included pointed architectural nods in their collections. Whether the contemporary work of Frank Gehry for Balenciaga or the delicate details of Arabesque architecture for Chloé, each designer interprets their architectural inspiration to meet their individual style.
And the admiration can flow both ways. The late Zaha Hadid was known to dabble in the fashion world, bringing elements reminiscent of her own buildings into her designs.
From classic church interiors to cutting-edge skyscrapers, fashion designers often take inspiration from architecture. Let’s look at some side-by-side comparisons of fashions and their architectural influences.
Gareth Pugh Spring 2009 | Sir Norman Foster, Hearst Building, NY. (Image via Only Dope Fashion)
Laura Biagiotti Spring 2012 | Close up of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Tuscany, Italy. (Image via Where I See Fashion)
Chinti & Parker Meets Patternity 2013. (Image via Chinti & Parker)
Guy Laroche 2014 | Frank Gehry. Beekman Tower, NY. (Image via Blouin Art Info)
Guillaume Henry 2014 | 1911 Guimard window in Paris. (Image via Blouin Art Info)
Givenchy Fall/Winter 2008 | Ceiling of a Gothic building. (Image via Givenchy)
Balenciaga Spring 2008 | Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain. (Image via Scarfe Unravels)
Akris, Spring 2008 | Peter Eisenman, Holocaust Memorial, Berlin. (Image via Scarfe Unravels)
Chloé Spring/Summer 2016. (Image via By Koket)
Dior Haute Couture Fall 2014 | Interior of Esterhazy Palace, Hungary. (Image via Where I See Fashion)
Givenchy Fall/Winter 2008 | Peterborough Cathedral. (Image via Givenchy and Jacek Wojnarowski / Shutterstock)
Pucci Spring 2008 | Antonio Gaudi, Parc Guell, Barcelona, Spain. (Image via Scarfe Unravels)
Lara Miller 2010 | Jeanne Gang, Aqua Tower, Chicago. (Image via Lara Miller and mariadayphotoblog)
Milly Spring/Summer 2016 | Zaha Hadid, Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku. (Image via By Koket)
Marchesa Fall/Winter 2008. (Image via Marchesa)
Alexander McQueen Spring 2008 | Sydney Opera House. (Image via Scarfe Unravels)
Yasutoshi Ezumi Spring/Summer 2016. (Image via By Koket)
Phillip Lim Spring/Summer 2016. (Image via By Koket)
Zaha Hadid 2012 | Zaha Hadid, ThyssenKrupp headquarters, Berlin. (Image via Ecouterre)
Not always referencing a specific building, designers often incorporate architectural elements, like elongated proportions and strong silhouettes, in their fashions.
Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2015. (Image via Steven Klein)