The association between fashion and architecture has been subject to public debate for quite a while. Both fashion and architecture help in the expression of ideas that may border on personal, social and/or cultural identity. At the same time, fashion and architecture help in reflecting on various interests of a particular audience and ambitions of different age groups. According to Ozezen (2004), the relationship between the two can be described as symbiotic, and that historically buildings and clothing have mantained semblance in terms of form and appearance. Fashion and architecture have a common denominator because they both provide body with shelter and cover. They also create space and volume out of flat and two-dimensional materials. Although the two address human scale in various ways, they differ enormously in sizes, shapes and proportions. Another difference is that while fashion addresses the true feelings of the moment, architecture has a more solid, monumental and permanent presence in the historical sense.
Recent years have even exposed the association between fashion and architecture in the most intriguing manner. This can be attributed to the advances in the technology, which have led to more advanced ideas on the discipline. As such, buildings have become more fluid while clothing became more architectonic in its design a(Quinn, 2003). In fact, architects have embraced strategies that are usually used in dressmaking, such as printing, draping and weaving. Fashion artists, on the other hand, are looking up to architects for ideas on how to create or outline the shape of garments, which present new provocative ideas in terms of volume and structure, as well as drawing on the intellectual principles and concepts prevalent in architecture (Hanisch, 2006).
Architecture can inspire fashion designers with new ideas. Although it may look a little surprising to use an architectural building as fashion design inspiration, both contemporary and traditional architectural works can cause a creative spark in the mind of a fashion designer. Sometimes, the whole building or separate details can provide a designer with useful ideas, which can lead to inspiration to create breathtaking designs (Hanisch, 2006). Constant observation and creative thinking form critical aspects of design. From the picture above, it is clear how a building can influence a fashion design. The topological model of the building has inspired several varieties of dress designs, commonly referred to as a three-layer model: topological, geometrical and visual (Wigley, 2001). In the photo, the topological layer specifies the fashion model and geometrical layer produces various shapes, while visual layer implements the real design in various media. The approach is also used in architectural designs as will be highlighted in further explanations (Riegelman, 2003).
In most cases, the inspiration for garment design and its details can be found in nearly all architectural sources. That`s why, inspiring architectural works may be found anywhere around the world; one can be ispired by just a familiar building close to his house or by a building which is in another country or on another continent. A designer may investigate and reveal all details of an architectural work, and sometimes a small and not noticed before detail can become one of magnificent features of a garment design (Bahamon, Christina & Corcuera, 2009). In the picture above, the building has inspired the designer to create dresses. The building’s structure has been used to form sheer and overlapping sleeves.
Historically, architecture has been used to provide a twofold connotation in that fashion clothing style was transformed into the capitalist intentions of designers. This is largely because designers of the previous century were mostly concerned with a dress as a source of modern appearance or as a form of expression of the interior scenes. Architecture, on the other hand, should form the basis for one to feel its presence. The concept presented with the picture above is that fashion is a feminine depiction of architecture, which shows the presence of post-modernism in the fashion industry. The historical context is therefore based on the importance of understanding fashion as an extension of architecture, where the former is primarily concerned with the possibility to cover the body with clothes, making one feel more attractive. The value of the body, as for the artists of the 19th Century, was that a dress was to be designed in a manner that the person wearing it would have the freedom of unrestricted movements. According to Castle (2000), human body as a metaphor for an architectural space has been used for a long time. This concept can be traced back to the 20s BC when Vitruvius explored the proportions of the human body in architecture (Browner, Mallory & Ohlman, 2009).
The history of architecture and fashion started when man started using same materials for shelter and for covering his/her body. As the connection between man and the environment surrounding him became more sophisticated, architects saw the need to adopt the appearance of their environment in the structures and designs. From the perspective of simplicity and clarity, many architectural designs are made as simple and clear as possible to avoid the unnecessary elements as seen in designs. In other words, a lot of space present in many architectural works present the idea that life in itself should remain as simple as possible. Although the structure of the building in the picture remains simple, it is fascinating in its texture and structure (Wigley, 2001). The structure depicts a virtue of the absence of ornament that may result into unnecessary visual sensation. Commonly referred to as minimalist architecture, the method makes it difficult to achieve any form of perfection that many designers strive for. According to Castle (2000), it represents aesthetics that comes with silence, and the culture of space. The culture of space and functionality resonates within one`s mind, clearly isolating people from the inside of a building. In the picture, modernism is seen in fashion design, as a reflection of the architectural movement which was set as a product of manifested practices of architectural scholars and designers. However, the paradox is that although the architectural design is based on minimalism ideology, contemporary architects have of late embraced new designs, although they still borrow a lot from the previous architectural works.
What we see on the picture above, although has nothing to do with sociology, is a reflection of the contemporary era that derives its inspiration from the consumerism era presented immediately after World War II. According to McMains (2004), the emergence of Las Vegas’ pop culture was also depicted in the architectural designs of some buildings. In other words, symbols and signs put on buildings reflected a new culture of consumerism and pop music. Although this kind of observation cannot be directly reflected in the picture above, it can be assumed that the ornamental role of architecture is to depict what the society stands for in the cultural and social sphere. Fashion, as a product of copied architectural ideas, has provided a basis for selling mass culture (Rendell, 2002). Although fashion came after architecture, the reality is that signs and glamour represented by fashion a aimed at encouraging the culture of consumerism. In other words, clothes are more glamorous as well as fragile, hence a designer can use his or her skills to evolve more clothes quickly as compared to construction of a building. In other words, a building is meant to last long; it is rather permanent, unlike clothes.
Relationship between architecture and fashion can be traced down to as early as 25 BC, when man used materials for shelter and to cover his/her body (Rendell, 2002). It therefore obvious that the human body and architecture were used to reflect proportions, thus the human body was a good reference point for any good architectural product. The debate on the ornamental value as presented by modernism further explores how textile is related to walls of buildings. For instance, while the building on the picture depicts a rough wall, the dresses have fine texture as far as visual judgement is concerned. In this context, it is logical to understand that dresses are meant to touch the body, while the building has to provide shelter. Also, as consistent with the theory of fashion, fashion is a feminine concept, while buildings are made to look and feel rough to reflect masculinity. The era of consumerism has seen a lot of growth in fashion industry, which is evidently inspired by old architectural works. Coupled with this change is the increased media exposure in the culture of mass production, which makes the entire idea of architecture even sophisticated. The culture of consumption has thus led to a more strong link between architecture and fashion.
As emphasised earlier, architecture and fashion reflect the cultural identity of a society, which can also extend to the development level of a society. These factors have a certain effect on the concept of design and expression of design. In other words, the two share individual or group identity of what is of value to the society. In other words, the human body reflects the ideas of space, volume, movement and texture. Clothes and buildings thus represent the image of communication between environment and persons, subsequently projecting human identities in terms of politics, culture and societal beliefs. In the sociological perspective, fashion is mostly depicted as women’s way of expressing themselves, with aesthetic values representing taste and feelings of people wearing clothes. Although architecture and fashion in the contemporary society are clearly intersected, earlier periods reflected this relationship in terms of imagery. Thus, the association between architecture and fashion can be used to define culture, beliefs, and relationship between the environment and people.