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.
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 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.
Androgynous-having both female and male characteristics. Being neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine, as in dress, appearance, or behavior. (Thefreedictionary.com)
Usually the term androgynous is loosely used to describe a woman-most of the times to describe a sexy woman wearing masculine clothing or with short hair. At times used in the wrong context to describe a lesbian.
I have never heard a man being described as androgynous. If a male possesses certain female characteristics, people jump to the conclusion that he is gay, which is wrong!!
We all are familiar with the term yin and yang. In Chinese philosophy it is used to describe polar or contrary forces that are interconnected and interdependent. In fact, in Hinduism Ardhanarishvara is an androgynous deity composing of a synthesis of male and female energies.
All of us whether male or female have the yin and yang characteristics in us. That is where women get their strength and men their gentleness. Can you imagine a female sans the male traits…gosh she would be so whiny. In the same vein, can you imagine a man who is an epitome of muscle and masculinity ALL the time….gosh that would be so primitive!!
Earlier, I had written a blog on female androgyny as related to fashion. So to fairly balance the yin and yang, today is the turn of the males.
Androgyny in men is nothing new. For centuries men have been wearing jewelry, had their ears and noses pierced and put kohl in their eyes. In fact Ancient Egyptian kings have been buried in the mummies with kilos of jewelry to adorn them in multiple after lives.
Indian Maharajas wore statement pieces starting from the embellishments in their turbans to earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, toe rings and anklets. Roman emperors have been known to wear jewelry.
What about the rappers and hip hop artists of modern day? A rapper whose songs are littered with profanities and innuendos of violence (masculine traits for the most part) will not forego a chance to wear “bling” anywhere and everywhere!! The MO’ THE BETTA!! Don’t you think it is a way of exploring his female side?
The Chanel 2011 runway fashion show is an example of male androgyny. You can see a male model sashaying down the runway wearing a beautiful statement necklace strategically placed against his smooth hairless chest. A piece bold and dramatic enough that a fashion-timid woman would think twice before wearing!
Fashion truly blurs the lines between men and women. The ad campaign of Marc Jacobs had a man wearing a dress and mind you, it is quite an eye-catching ad! In fact, Marc Jacobs has admitted to wearing dresses and has worn a skirt with his hairy legs.
Bloggers like BryanBoy walk around in heels, toting a woman’s purse and wears the latest MiuMiu dresses. He aspires to acquire the crab-claws six inch Alexander McQueen heels.
Now even though nature has bestowed upon us humans both the male and female characteristics, I am not saying that all males will be overtly comfortable with such fashion. The run of the mill male will stick to his faded jeans/shorts and t-shirt or khaki pants and checkered shirt.
As stylish, fashion forward thinking audience such as the ones I have, don’t you guys think it is worth getting in touch with your female side? Who doesn’t want to look good, irrespective of the gender? How about taking baby steps you Alfa Males and starting with a colorful fitted shirt paired with some cool velvet loafers. If you are daring don a hat!! Wear a cool, musky cologne. Trust me it will make a great difference in your style, sex and confidence quotient.