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In my last blog, I had presented a photo of a model with unearthly long extremities wearing grid-patterned tights. As aptly pointed out by Ms. Ofelia from myintendedlife, her extremities did not look human.  She reminded me of an unfinished sketch with an exaggerated form.  A draft, if you will.

I recently read the book, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.  A most wonderful piece of literature.  While reading the book I was struck by the similarity between fashion and architecture. 

Both start with a vision.  The bolder the vision, the more spectacular the product.  Vision leads to a design or draft, followed by construction and then the final execution.

The model with the grid stockings was like an architectural draft-basic, bare-boned but with a distinct sketched vision.  She was a proof ready for the final construction/execution.

In both architecture and fashion it is necessary for the creator to have a well-defined, clear and refined vision.  Any paucity in the vision will lead to a poorly constructed final product, not aesthetic, bare, vacant and soulless. 

Architecture and fashion have a soul.  That is why we get moved when we see the ace examples of either.  Why do you think millions gasp in awe after seeing the Coliseum in Rome, the pyramids in Egypt, the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the finely chiseled Ajanta Caves in India.  These structures are not only grand in form and size, but have the power to make the viewer reflect into the soul of the architect.  One can feel the chapped hands of the chiseler, envision the beads of sweat on the brow of the bricklayer, feel the physical ache of the woodworker.  Even after the passage of centuries, one can feel the turmoil and joy of the craftsmen.

It is the same in fashion too.  Master Couturiers spend hundreds of hours sewing little pearls on a gown with bent necks, stitch the perfect folds of a coat in the dim lights of the studio and attach the most delicate chiffon ruffles to a sleeve using the minutest needle with strained eyes.

In both instances, the master craftsmen are at work displaying the excellence of their respective trades.  

Architecture bleeds into fashion.  The similarities are a vision, choice of materials, form, functionality and space.  Both utilize a play of light and shadow.  Both cater to an ambience.  Both need a creator who understands constraint and restraint. 

 I am sharing with you today my interpretation of my favorite architectural marvels with similar fashion designs.  Whether the fashion is inspired by architecture or vice versa, is subject to your interpretation.

 Taj Mahal and Byzantine Fashion

The Taj Mahal is the greatest example of Mughal/Persian architecture.  It is an ode of Emperor Shah Jahan’s eternal love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.  The structure is deeply rooted in Byzantine history.  It was made using the finest white marble, adorned with intricate calligraphy, stone inlays and carvings.  The interiors are inlaid with precious gemstones and engraved marble designs.  Can you imagine the patience and tenacity required to carve the fine filigree into marble.  The structure screams opulence, craftsmanship and decadence.  The old wife’s tale goes that the craftsmen who built the Taj Mahal had their hands chopped off such that the structure could not be replicated. 

chanel

On a lesser draconian level, Chanel’s Byzantine collection reminds me of the opulence of the Taj Mahal.  The designs are reminiscent of Mughal/Persian royalty.  The finest Couturiers worked on the creation of the garments.  The fabric is luxurious, the jeweled embroidery is intricate and the craftsmanship is superlative.  There is an element of luxury and richness similar to the Taj Mahal.

Zaha Hadid and Fluidity in Fashion

 

The world renowned Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid uses space, light and fluidity in her architectural designs. Her architecture is modern and radical.  It is intellectual.   There is airiness to her structures.  No surprise that she was commissioned by Karl Lagerfeld to construct Mobil Art Chanel Pavilion with a fluid, almost in motion dome.  

Zaha Hadid has brought architecture to her fashion designs, imparting the same principles of fluidity and motion.

Burj Khalifa and “High” Fashion

Oh to reach such lofty vertiginous heights!!  Burj Khalifa in Dubai is one of the tallest man made structure ever built.  It is 160 floors.  It is a pinnacle example of the power of human capability.  It is amazing to see the  machinations of the human brain that went into the planning, designing and construction in order to achieve the perfect balance and alignment.

The Alexander McQueen crab-claw heels are a similar example of an aeronautical design feat.  Similar planning went into achieving the perfect balance while maintaining the aesthetic beauty.

St. Basil’s Cathedral and Phantasmic Fashion

 

St. Basil’s in Russia is the most unique and dazzling example of a juxtaposition of architectural colors, spirals and complexity.  It seems hallucinatory.  I often describe it as dream-like.

 

Alexander McQueen’s gown on Lady Gaga evokes similar phantasmagoric feelings of surrealism.

Frank Gehry and Deconstructive Fashion

 

Famous Los Angeles based architect is the master of contemporary architecture. His style has been defined as Deconstructivism.  It does not follow an “Order” per se.  One of my favorite Gehry architectures is the Hotel Marques de Riscal in Elciego, Spain.  It is a supreme example of deconstruction without the grunge effect.  There is an Order sans an order in the conventional sense.  I particularly like the mix of metallic colors, especially the olive green and shades of purple to mauve.

 

Deconstruction is a ubiquitous term used in fashion.  However, funny as it may sound, deconstruction needs an order to be aesthetic.  Otherwise it looks well, deconstructed!

Again the master craftsman McQueen’s ruffled gown reminds me of Gehry’s work.  Deconstructed, but not grunge.  An example of patent disorder but latent order!

Frank Lloyd Wright and Volume Fashion

Wright, is yet another phenomenal American architect.  His style was organic architecture.  He is identified with the prairie homes he designed that are prime examples of open space, unity and continuity.  He despised the “boxed” in feeling.  There was volume in his architecture.

jil sanders

 

Jil Sanders beautiful clothes are parallel to Wright’s architecture.  Jil Sanders is a perfect example of openness in clothing.  There is nothing constricting in the clothes, no “boxed” in feeling.  Its continuity in uber style.

Friends, I hope you enjoyed my interpretation of the juxtaposition of fashion and architecture.  It is a small respite from pre-fabricated homes and mass produced clothing.

  • Albert:

    I love these pictures and comparisons! Fashion designers can draw on so many sources for inspiration, and great architecture is a great source. It’s all around us, all around the world. Makes you wonder why people settle for mass produced generic designs.

  • Wow, this is great. I guess I’ve never really thought of the relationship between fashion and architecture, but the 2 are clearly connected in some way. There are some really beautiful buildings out there and I’ll definitely be looking at them in a new light. Loved the comparisons you did of trends and buildings.

  • Ambu, thanks so much for taking my comments into consideration!
    This post is magnificently beautiful and it has such fluidity and grace that equals the stunning works of architecture and fashion in the photos.
    I knew about all the architects but Zaha Hadid. Her work looks out of this world! I’ll be doing some research on her work!

  • I love and so appreciate all of the effort that went into this post. I have an undeniable love for architecture. My grandfather was an architect, the thought process and calculation that goes into this art so wonderfully executed is fascinating to me & goes hand in hand with fashion to me – both using a level of engineering to create their body of work. I can totally see your reference to Taj Mahal in the Chanel collection. I am not too familiar with Zaha Hadid, however truly adore my favs- Frank Gehry, along with many others like Tadao Ando, & Herzog de Meuron. I also love fashion brands that show a love for architecture, Finsk and United Nude are a couple of my favourites. Excellent post Ambu!

  • Oh friend!!! I HAVE thoroughly enjoyed your juxtaposition on fashion and architecture. All the ideas that go into a post like this makes me so inspired.

    There is such a relation between the 2 arts and you’ve really highlighted a few that are so important: vision and soul. It is so obvious when a design is muddled or if an artist is bending to the whim of trends and soul YES these things have soul. I remember when I first saw the Eiffel Tower, I know so cliche, but really it was such an unexpected visceral response I could not believe a structure I had seen a million times in pictures effected me so much. It has so much soul (no comment on the light business that is going on there now).

    But my most favorite and most drastic reaction to architecture was to the Cordoba Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain. My friend and I were standing in the middle of this Mosque and literally my breath left me and we were both tearing. I have never had that reaction to a structure before and haven’t since I couldn’t really tell you why this happened but it was a very powerful place for me. Pictures do it NO justice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral%E2%80%93Mosque_of_C%C3%B3rdoba. It’s actually a building that is packed with history too…it has been built and rebuilt by different colonizers so besides the beautiful arches that were left from the original Mosque in the 700′s it also has a very traditional Catholic center built much later by the Spainards…ya know, Spain. OMG! This comment is LONG! I’ll stop now :). LOVE YOU.

  • Wow the images in this post are completely amazing and the comparisons are not only thoughtful but accurate! love this A! Thank you for another great post that I not only enjoy looking at but stimulates my mind!

    Love you!

    Veronica

  • How wonderfully you explain the two and their relations. I couldn’t agree with you more. One of the bloggers (friend?!) Rachel is an Architecture student and a über chic fashionista … She often compares the two … Her blog – http://studioswag.blogspot.com/

    ♥ from © tanvii.com

  • Such an interesting way of thinking about fashion…you have given me new eyes.

  • hi dear .
    Wow the images in this post are completely amazing and the comparisons are not only thoughtful but accurate
    Thank You .

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