The Link Between Architecture And Fashion Cultural Studies Essay


Through the centuries the technology changes and with it our lifestyle changes as well. Many areas have been affected by the technology in many ways, but some of the keep the retro style that allows them to travel in the past, in the present and in the future.

Specifically, the link between architecture and fashion has never been stronger. Those two disciplines have a serious link between them, which makes us think differently as designers. The fashion is not exclusively for fashion designers only, and architecture is not only for architects.

Architecture and fashion use the style to represent time character, attitude and feelings. The interior design usually reflects the brand image and connects the consumer with the brand. Looking back in the history, as designer we recognize what architecture and fashion symbolize for each population, from ancient Greeks to Egyptians and during World Wars I and II.

The aim of this dissertation is to explore the similarities between architecture and fashion. The collection of brands working to produce great content. This Basically is what we call brandscaping; how the building is connected with fashion and vice versa.

Often Architects adopting strategies and methods more usually used in dressmaking such as pleating, printing, folding, draping and wearing. On the other hand, fashion designers are taking ideas from architects on how to build or engineer and follow the ideas of volume and structure. Strong examples of fashion designers that use architecture on their design are Careth Pugh and Hussein Chalayan, who says that he has more common with architects than fashion designers, even if he is fashion designer. On the visual and imagery approach, Architecture and Fashion have so many common things in material and digital techniques such as, high tech textiles, pliable building materials, Computer Assisted Design software and many other programs that have common uses for architecture and fashion.

It is obvious that architecture and fashion affect art, furniture graphics and interior design. Everything is designed the way it is for a reason, to help consumers and that is a link between designer and consumer.

According to "Skin and Bones exhibition" both fashion and architecture express ideas of personal, social and cultural identity, reflecting the concerns of the user and the ambition of the age. Their relationship is a symbiotic one, and throughout history clothing and buildings have echoed each other in form and appearance. This seems only natural as they not only

share the primary function of providing shelter and protection for the body, but also

because they both create space and volume out of flat, two-dimensional materials.

While they have much in common, they are also intrinsically different. Both address

the human scale, but the proportions, sizes and shapes differ enormously. And while

fashion is, by its very nature, ephemeral or ‘of the moment’, architecture traditionally

has a more solid, monumental and permanent presence.

Through this dissertation we analyze the common things between Architecture and Fashion, to understand the relationship of those two disciplines from the past and to design representing and timelessness of the architecture compared to the short life of fashion.

Historical Report

Since architecture and fashion are reflection of the identity and culture of populations, the level of development level would certainly affect the design concepts and possibilities. A look back at the history would be helpful, and the relationship between architecture and fashion. The relationship between building and clothing started years ago when people used materials for clothing and sheltering as well. Or since the term fashion reminds images of constantly changing trends tending towards the frivolous rather than the practical.

A change in dress happened from during War World II to after the war ended. The fashion style of this time had shown the darkness of this period of time in history. The uniforms of military members were the most significant examples of the wartime. Even in a marriage the groom would usually wear his service uniform and the bride would wear something that today would be considered as simple office skirt suit.

Also that happened in Architecture as well. Hitler’s buildings were dark and strict, showing the power of the dictator. That is connected with his uniform; strict and dark color that shown his power and his strictness. The size of the buildings proposed for Berlin would be among the largest in the world, meant to instill in each individual German citizen the insignificance of individuals in relation to the community as a whole. This can happen with the fashion as well, for example a way of style might show the nationality of someone and the development, show power and if he is poor or rich.

Architecture and fashion in 60’s

The 60s and 70s were named as the age of media my many scholars, the age of media mass production, fast consumption and many other areas. The 60s was the era of rapid technological progress which culminated in man's first steps on the moon in 1969. Youth fashion took on a new twist in the sixties. Young women adopted the fashion of the mini skirt and it become the most popular dress code of that period. By the end of the decade, the trendier girls had abandoned it for long flowing hair and caftans.

Older periods influenced 60s style like Victorian, Art Nouveau and Art deco. With the mixture of those arts, designers with the help of heady cocktail of psychedelic images and the influence from hallucinogenic drugs, created the modern fashion for that period. Alongside these new influences, modernism evolved and matured from its beginnings in the early years of the twentieth century. Town centres changed in the 60s and bomb damaged cities were replaced by modern visions of the future.

Architecture influenced fashion

When architecture stars influencing fashion and vise versa we realize how close those disciplines are. A smart diamond pattern can look both contemporary and timeless which this happens to architecture as well. We can see this examples on pyramids in Egypt and I.M. Pei's 1989 glass version at the Louvre not to mention today's dazzling towers, such as the 42-story stack of steel-framed triangles in Manhattan.


In 1960s Minimalism rised

The well-known firm Calvin Klein in 2008 ran the Ready-To-Wear collection, which showed the structural design influence in fashion design. Examples of that were the clean, sharp lines dominated the collection, which was mainly based on gray and black hues. Another big firm with two fashion designers, Viktor and Rolf, also showed the colours of gray and black on their collection for fall/winter. The models of that fashion show walked on the runway in stark minimalism looks. Small details on their boots shown the strong architectural influence which were futuristic. Their pants had pleat, which again shows another not to straight lines , form and embellished with metallic accents. All of this was based on a clear minimalism architectural world.

Architects designing fashion

While architecture attempted to purge itself of fashion at the beginning of the last century, the dawning of this one is characterized by the relationship between them. For almost a decade, architects have been competing for fashion projects with the zeal they once showed museum and gallery commissions. (Quinn, 2003, p. 5)

The connection between architects and jewelry goes back to the Renaissance: amongst others, Brunelleschi originally trained as a goldsmith. It is a tradition that has evolved, as much later, during the Arts and Crafts movement in England and Scotland, and the Vienna Sezession in Austria, noted architects turned their attention to jewels. Today, the most revered and inventive architect of our time, Frank Gehry, joined forces with Tiffany & Co, in 2003, launching his first jewelry collection in 2006. It makes sense that the "starchitect" who helped make his profession so popular should produce both wearable things and livable spaces, underlining the growing affinity between the two.

When Architecture meets fashion great things can happen. Zaha Hadid Iraq’s and worlds most famous architect showed her power not only in architecture but in fashion as well. Over the last five years, Hadid has designed and created a bag for Louis Vuitton, jewelry for Swarovski, shoes for Lacoste and eco-label Melissa, and a mobile art pavilion for Chanel. 

Zaha worked in the fashion area with the same way as she does with her buildings. She uses a group of her employees dedicated to researching new techniques for design and manufacturing. According to Zaha Hadid "The product result is so much quicker than for architecture.

Hadid could easily have become a fashion designer. She is collector of vintage clothing and huge fan of Japanese designers such as Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto for their daring work with materials and proportions.

‘Very often, architects use the word skin instead of façade, as a description for high technology envelopes of glass and other materials that can describe their buildings.’

Moving from famous architects who got involved in fashion industry to an innovative fashion designer who uses architecture and technology to his designs. Hussein Chalayan is a fashion designer that uses technology and very innovative methods to make fashion more interesting. One thing to keep in mind Chalayan said ‘ is that when fashion looks modular and structured people automatically call it architectural when it isn’t ‘. It takes a lot of structuring to make a dress truly architectural. (Quinn, 2003, p.123). Chalayan’s fashion is different from other designers because of his idea to make dresses transform to something else. For example table becomes skirt , chair’s clothing becomes a beautiful modern dress. Chalayan mixes technology architecture and art to create fashion and his progressive course reflects on the success that he has through his fashion shows. Although, his work judged as eccentric and heady for actual people to wear.

The genius of Chalayans work lies in his ability to explore principles that are visual and intellectual, charting the spectral orientations of urban societies through tangibles like clothing, buildings and furniture.( Quinn, 2003, p. 122)


Minimalism has to do with an awareness of the fundamentals, the building block of fashion design. Although, if we talk about minimalism’s first principles, there is nevertheless a story behind its story to be told about its own evolution through the numerous periodic re-emergences whereby it makes its influence felt in successive socio-historical contexts.

The term minimalism officially came into being in the 1960s, when a group of artists in New York rejected the traditional representations in painting and sculpture and chose to pursue a new mode that owed as little as possible to the physical existence of an object. ( Walker, 2011 , p.9) . Today’s minimalist fashion owes a crucial debt to the avant-garde visual culture of the twenties and the sixties. During both of the these periods, clean streamlined shapes are fundamental and connected to modern of art of Kasimic Malevich geometric paintings. All of these have a relationship with Le Corbusier’s architecture who used to design cubes , spheres , cylinders and pyramids. Also, the PanAm building’s mechanistic iron grid façade reappeared in fashion and forever changed its face. From Chanel’s unfussy little black dress to Courrèges’s and Cardin’s pared-down, futuristic shifts, the watershed styles of the Twenties and the Sixties folded contemporary artistic values—sleekness, simplicity, and progress—into "a vocabulary of easy dressing that would come to define modern fashionability," Dimant concludes. (Dimant 2010)

Less in More is a key sentence that Mies Van Der Rohe used to express his ideas and his thoughts. Less is more is the aphorism under which he worked throughout his life. His buildings are the perfect synthesis of the minimalist idiom, of form and function, of the aesthetics and pragmatic with each element working in several guises: a floor serves as a radiator a window as a wall. (Walker , p.15). The key elements that Mies used were the straight simple lines and simple colours mostly white.

Minimalism if often understood through modernity but can be found in various forms, from the juxtaposed shapes of primitive art to the sleek lines of 1920s Art Moderne. Dadaism, the Bauhaus, and Italian futurism have all contributed to the ways in which we view minimalism. (Dimant, 2010 ,p. 9)

The movement’s early proponents used the ambiguity of abstracted three-dimensional structures and the familiarity of reductive geometry to capture objects that were amazingly different from any sculptural or painterly forms that preceded them. Minimalism has since evolved to encompass a categorical artistic designation, a cultivated lifestyle, and an ephemeral sensibility in the realms of fine art, architecture, interior, and fashion. In many ways, minimalism’s transition from a 1960s high-art movement to a persistent force in the contemporary artistic vernacular is due to both its appropriation within the field of fashion and to the many fashion designers who have equated reduction and abstraction with beauty and progress. Fashion, positioned between utility and aesthetics, flat textile and sculpted garment, readily adapts the dictates of minimal art and espouses its legacies in the avant-garde and the ready-made niches of commodity culture.

Minimalism is a source of constant inspiration to fashion designers wishing to reinvent the codes of womenswear. Nude body by Fogalm silk trousers by Yves Saint Laurent.( Walker, 2011 , p. 9)

The early minimalist relationship between flat geometry and sculptural form is quite similar to fashion’s textile and garment. The basic forms of 1960s clothing- the cube, the cylinder the conical sheath "were the perfect reductive shape to champion either graphic print or uninterrupted monotone, but their platonic constructions would not have been possible without the historical precedents created by the couturiers Maledeine Vionnet and Paul Poiret ". ( Dimant 2010, p.31)

Fashion holds sway in architecture and design as well, although because each part of the cycle takes longer to come to maturity the wheel turns more slowly, and its movement not perceived so clearly. The book of Jonathan Glancey and Richard Bryant’s "The New Moderns", amidst a plethora of glossy magazine articles on the same subject the minimal approach was hailed as the style of the nineties.


Zen’s principles have set new standards for architecture and gardening vastly different from western philosophies. Zen's ultimate goal is to achieve a state of nothingness, nirvana in a being through concentration and enlightenment. Also, it forwards the ideas of imperfection and incompleteness. The idea around Zen for the surrounding is to be simple, unadorned, imperfect, asymmetrical, unsophisticated, and limited.

Zen is a refreshing idea for architecture. Things are not meant to be perfect or permanent, and Zen philosophy allows us to accept the way the world truly is imperfect and inconsistent. These ideas are easily applies to architecture and gardening, because these are the two elements experienced daily. To achieve a state of nirvana, they must make these surroundings quiet, imperfect, natural, and simple way. With these characteristics, Zen architecture allows people to emotionally connect to who we are by creating an inward-focused environment. However, Tadao Ando represents worthily Zen architecture into his designs.


The minimalist design is strongly influenced by the Japanese traditional design and architecture, which focuses on the simplicity and elegance of shapes. The Japanese architect Tadao Ando creates buildings, in which light, water, wind and concrete co-exist to perfection. Ando uses mainly concrete and glass , which provides a sense of cleanness and weightiness at the same time. He projects unique spaces, which change constantly, because the sun and wind play in their confines. The minimalist architect himself says that light has a decisive role in all of his projects.

Tadao Ando shows the simplicity of his architecture and emphasizes the concept of sensation and physical experiences, mainly influence by Japanese culture. Based on Zen’s principles , focuses on the concept of simplicity and concentrates on the inner feeling rather than the appearance. The theory strongly shows on Ando’s work and definitely become his style, which makes him different from other architects in the world. To express the idea of simplicity, Ando’s architecture is mostly constructed with concrete.

Tadao Ando has a wide array of motivations, which have grown since his architectural beginning. Many of his buildings are not seen as just buildings, but environments seamlessly incorporated with the light, wind, and landscape of their surroundings.  Ando took his original inspiration from different books of architectural drawings by the likes of Le Corbusier, a Swiss pioneer of modern architecture.  Ando’s Church of the Light (1989) could be seen as one of Ando’s signature projects, which incorporates elements from nature both visually and physically. A key characteristic of Tadao Ando is the seamless weave into a natural setting made him again to differ from other architects. Seamless weave is usually used in fashion instead, and talking about minimalism a fashion designer who is connected with seamless and minimalism is Miuccia Prada.


In September 2012 Miuccia Prada created a fashion show based on traditional Japanese style and Architecture. Prada brought this idea to show an example of how to breathe modernity into cultural references. Also, she sought a minimalistic look , like other designers this season, Marc Jacobs for example. Japanese architecture with its sense of rigor and purity, might have been a touchstone. The black runway was set up in square, with squared-off columns.

Prada is more than a fashion house; it is a whole design and cultural outlook. Suzy Menkes, the International Herald Tribune’s fashion editor, says: "Miuccia captures the Zeitgeist. She is a conceptual fashion person who realises which way the wind is blowing. She took the family bag company and made those nylon bags in the minimalist 80s. Then she became the leader of the ugly aesthetic of the 90s." The main stores are not called shops, but epicentres and are by world famous architects Herzog & de Meuron and Rem Koolhaas, who also does Prada’s fashion shows.

Her clothes, often deceptively plain looking, have become widely influential. She gives traditional garments a modern handling, like trimming nylon parkas with mink and making trench coats and twin sets out of silk faille. It seems that the whole world craves Prada's ice-cool minimalism and deadpan eroticism .