Publication Date

April 2015


Joseph Siry


Art History


English (United States)


Fashion and architecture are two design practices that today cross paths, overlap, work in dialogue, and are occasionally conflated as creative strategies dependent on branding, presentation, and emergent technologies. This thesis investigates the contemporary relationship between fashion and architecture, and how the relationship between the two media has become more fluid due to the work of certain designers in each field. I sought out to understand the enabling strategies and motivations behind this complex relationship. The first chapter returns to the mid-nineteenth and turn of the twentieth century to explore the historical relationship between fashion and architecture. Beginning with ideas of dress reform and anti-fashion, artists maintained diverse opinions as to what fashion was and, in contrast, what they imagined it could be. Architects so vehemently opposed mainstream fashion that they designed fashions of their own, translating an artistic aesthetic into the applied arts of both fashion and architecture. Vestiges of this early modern period persist in the architectural and fashion industries today. In this early modern period, fashion was a concept, not an industry, and certainly not an art form. The design and production of garments, however, offered opportunities of art and dress coalescing, delivering a new platform for aesthetic ideas to be carried into everyday life. The second chapter looks at the work of key architects who have expanded their brand to the design of more than architecture, and who have become icons in their own right, deemed “starchitects.” My choice example is Zaha Hadid, who has transformed from a successful architect known for her daring architectural style as well as her bold fashion sense, to a designer of fashions of her own. Comparisons can be drawn between her fashion designs and her buildings, demonstrating an awareness of the shared formal properties between fashion and architecture, and Hadid’s ability to translate her trademark style into different artistic media. Hadid’s expansion of her own brand from an architect to a starchitect designer of fashion conveys a keen awareness for marketing and self-presentation not ordinarily identified in the architecture industry. The third chapter delves into the fashion industry to examine the work of unconventional fashion designers, regarded as avant-garde artists, who strategically incorporate architectural properties and techniques into their garments. Fashion designers have credited architecture for inspiring their work and artistic processes, but have made no public attempts at becoming architects of anything other than their own clothing. Issey Miyake and Hussein Chalayan are two fashion designers with very different aesthetics and approaches, but both utilize technology to incorporate architectural forms and surface strategies into their designs. Technological practices have enabled the crossovers between these industries, as the artists explored in this thesis use digital fabrication to experiment with surface of building or garment, blurring the boundary between fashion and architecture. Zaha Hadid, Issey Miyake, and Hussein Chalayan are all standouts because they have forged this communication with other media. Each of these artists has different reasons for their personal interest in the opposite industries of architecture or fashion, but they have found this crossover dialogue to be paramount to the achievement of an avant-garde brand. As each seeks unique strategies of fabrication as well as presentation, they strive to make the conventions of their media unconventional, turning to the opposite practices of fashion or architecture to do so.



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