When you browse the web for clothes (as many of us do nowadays) or flip through a fashion magazine, you may not think that the link between fashion and architecture has much crossover. The professions have different optics, price points, and scales – but the basic elements of both; geometry, structure, and function, are the same. Like architecture, fashion has its eras, with styles and trends fluctuating in popularity, and is studied, admired, and replicated. Both are creative, solution-based professions – the end result is either to clothe or to house, using a mix of drafting techniques, materials, and inspirations. Sometimes, the beauty is in the simplicity, sometimes it is in the opulence. Both clothing and buildings can be altered to fit their end user best; either altered or renovated. And most importantly, both have the power to transcend the line between essential item and art. In this blog post, we’re taking a look at four modern fashion designers who approach their designs like architecture.
Scroll down to learn more about each designer and click their name to view some of their work!
Iris Van Herpen 1984-present
Dutch fashion designer Iris Van Herpen has created some of the most bizarre, recognizable styles of recent years by using silicone, paper, glass, and other traditionally unwearable material. Her laser-cut, and sometimes 3-D printed womenswear collections have featured collaborations with architects like Rolf Seifert and Philip Beesley who help construct moving elements of the dresses, which often move hypnotically when coming down the runway. Each runway show is based around a different abstract theme, such as hypnosis or the sea, and features shoes that are just as architectural and mind-bending as her gowns. In 2019, Van Herpen worked with Neutelings Riedijk Architects to create a sculptural extension to a biodiversity center in the Netherlands. In creating the building, she did not stray far from her fashion design work and said that “the intention really was not to go away from my couture process too much, but instead to still it, and to disembody it.” The material for part of the extension’s outer shell is a blend of concrete and marble made to look like fabric, symbolically blending fashion and architecture.
Nicolas Ghesquière 1971-present
As the current creative director of Louis Vuitton, French designer Nicolas Ghesquière uses architecture to complement and showcase his work. After beginning his career as creative director at Balenciaga, he took a creative director position at Louis Vuitton in 2013, where his collections’ geometric and angular inspiration has been compared to architecture. AnOther Magazine mentions that Ghesquière “is a devoted fan of Modernist architecture, and his clothing often borrows similarly geometric lines.” Fittingly, the show was hosted at the recently reimagined modernist TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport. He was the first designer to ever host a runway at the Louvre, and has continued to hold shows at landmarks including the Miho Museum in Kyoto and the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum in Brazil.
Pierre Cardin 1992-2020
The legendary French fashion designer, who recently passed away, is one of the most celebrated designers to work in both fields of design and architecture. His father had always wanted him to be an architect, but when he was growing up in the early 1920’s, he was more interested in dress design and gluing wood scraps together to make tiny furniture. When he grew increasingly popular as the original “mod chic” fashion designer in the 70’s, he had begun a new era of fashion. Due to his “space age” fashion, NASA invited him as the first designer to visit their headquarters, and he worked with car manufacturers AMC to design “haute couture” automobile trims and interiors. In the 80’s Cardin created modern lighting installations and lamps, and worked with architect Antti Lovag to create the Palais Bulles (“Bubble Palace”), an otherworldly summer resident in the south of France. His fashionable approach to furniture and architecture did not always allow for the most functional designs, according to Cardin’s nephew, who was also his design assistant, “when we like the shape, only then comes the problem of finding solutions to make the piece useful with drawers and cabinets.”
Thierry Mugler 1948-present
When the eccentric fashion designer Thierry Mugler called himself “an architect who completely reinvents a woman’s body,” he did not mean literally. However, the fantastical, costume-like designs that made him a household name in France in the 70’s truly transform the wearers’ bodies, turning them into characters whose outfits define them. With an acute attention to form and structure, his corsets, sculptural shoulder pads, and bodices create almost costume-like illusions. Mugler collections have shown outfits that evoke evil storybook witches, robot bombshells, and creatures from the deep, all while maintaining an atistic and fashionable appearance. After retiring from his brand in 2003, Mugler made the move to architecture, teaming with real estate mogul Jean-Paul Cassia in 2017 as a creative director, where he plans to design luxe Mugler residences, which are yet to be unveiled, but sure to be incredible.