Home > Knitbuddies > Welcome

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

kitty: food for thought: So when some one says architectural fashion what do they really mean?

Some food for thought.... I recently got into a long discussion with a friend about who I thought of when one mentioned Architectural Fashion Designers. The majority of the ones I thought of were historical in nature or ones who designed garments with very strong bones. Our ideas were pretty dramatically different. I haven't really kept up with the cutting edge of fashion these past years so my reference points date back to when I was doing research.

Then it came around to the question: So when some one says architectural fashion what do they really mean?

So I thought I would at least write up a blog post about my feelings on the subject. So here goes......


In the last couple of years there seems to have been a lot of talk about a connection between fashion and architecture.  Many researchers have been trying to draw a connection between the two disciplines and pointing out the recent development of design processes, fabrication, and aesthetic directions.  Though most of these writers and designers act like fashion and architecture are a recent connection. When the topic actually dates back through out textile history.

Take the early Egyptians and the theory of what was beautiful in both adornment and fashion they all resembled the pyramid. The Romans and Greek dress closely resembled the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns, fine pleating was use to gracefully cover the body with elaborate jewelry that graced the neck. The Chinese duplicated the knots that were found in the window treatments in their textile designs and textile closures. They also used elaborate jade that graced both the walls and jewelry.   The Dutch actually wrote early on in the last century about architecture being used to construct their garments to protect the elements. During the 20’s you had the flapper gowns that depicted the linear structure of the “new high rise” building of the day. While in Germany during 1919-1933 you had the Bauhaus school, which strongly influenced the architecture, graphic design, industrial, and fashion of the day. Then came Christian Dior and the New Look a strong structural garment with rigid construction during the ‘40’s.

The list could go on an on.

Take the Fortuny Gown to the right; (Other Examples) Based on the Greek Chiton Columns the Delphos gown was Fortuny's most famous design. Another great designer copied this gown in the 80's, Issey Miyake with his Pleats Please designs. Early Greek History - 1920-40's - 80-Present and all often described as having an architectural element.

So when some one says architectural fashion what do they really mean?

Both garments and building protect the body and provide shelter from the elements. They both allow you to express your personal identity. The earliest example of both buildings and clothing were born out of necessity. It was a long time before they were actually “designed.”

The design processes though has a lot of parallels for both architects and fashion designers begin with preliminary sketches. Then models are produced to work on a precise fit through painstaking hours of perfecting the end product. Then when both designer finish the drawings and patterns, they are then rendered with the use of computer CAD programs to check for structural integrity and then rendered patterns for production.

So given that train of thought architectural fashion design would be the use of structural elements to create the bones of the garment that protects the body from the element. It covers a wide range of designs and concept from early historical textile to modern day.

Though it seems during recent years the definition has become a little more muddled. Some historians now define it as the use of geometry to generate structural forms in garments. Even when the greatest Geometrical designer, Issey Miake does not define himself as an architectural designer but a structural designer.

Just from some common observation in the recent years people are using Architectural fashion to be anything from:

  1. Geometrical Structural Garments
  2. Fabrics that create hard and round lines
  3. Proportions that are exaggerated angles and floating layers
  4. 3-D Designs - Bones, Pleats, Folds, Smocking, Pinning, Layers, Surface Textures, etc.
  5. Strong structural shapes and forms

The new guards of fashion designers that use the term architectural fashion designer really vary;

  1. Pierre Balmain “Dressmaker of the architectural movement” to Gianfranco Ferré known as “The Architect of fashion” both held degrees in architecture

  2. Swedish Designer Sandra Backlund who declares that her designs are not architectural but a way to “naturally distort the silhouette”.

  3. Hussein Chalayan (View some examples), Rem Koolhaas, Derek Lam & Bradley Quinn who are the new guard of “The Fashion Architects”
Screen captured from pingmag.jp 6/15/2007 from the Skin + Bones Exhibition in London

After reading more about the modern movement Hussein Chalayan's name does keep pooping up and the designer that is shaping the new architectural fashion movement. One New York Times reporter even compared his greatness to Christian Dior's New Look.

Hussein Chalayan his blog - and interview with Designs boom -- current collection

So really the answer could be as varied as textile history, but certainly not a new concept. Like they always say... nothing is new in fashion and everything is a copy!

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting read. When thinking about architectural fashion design, the only name that comes to mind is Issei Miyake, but that's only because I don't know much about fashion. To me the word architecture brings to mind a certain hardness, a geometric (especially 3D) quality, fabric that has more structure than drape, or equal parts of both.