How are fashion and architecture related?
- potential role of architecture as an element having the ability to shape space for the fashion industry.
- examples of such buildings which are inspired from fashion.
In his great classic, Notre-Dame de Paris [ later called The Hunchback of Notre-Dame], Victor Hugo writes,
Indeed, from the beginning of things...architecture was the great book of humanity, the chief expression of man in his various stages of development, whether as force or as intellect.
Architecture, therefore, was developed parallel with human thought...and fixed all that floating symbolism in an eternal visible, palpable form....
Like fashion, then, architecture is a reflection of a culture. The tastes, the ideals, and the functions of that culture are reflected in both fashion and architecture. During the period that is known as Baroque, for instance, which began around 1600 and extended into the 18th century, the architecture had an imposing, formal, and dramatic expression reflective of the Roman Catholic Church which inspired it. In France, it reflected the opulence of the aristocracy. The Opera House in Paris is an example of this Baroque style; quite appropriately, it reflects the dramatic gestures of opera itself. Of course, the fashion of this period was reflective of the same opulent and bold, dramatic expression.
In more modern times, the American architect, Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) expressed the idea of art in harmony with function when he said,
It is the pervading law of all things organic, and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things super human, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form follows function. This is the law.
Sullivan's architecture reflects this emphasis upon form following function. Credited as the creator of the modern skyscraper, Sullivan mentored Frank Llyod Wright, who also made use of interior light and open spaces. Louis Sullivan was an inspiration to a group of architects in Chicago who came to be known as the Prairie School. The works of this school are marked by solid construction and discipline in the use of ornamentation. Horizontal lines evoked and related to the flat prairie of Illinois.
A contemporary of Sullivan's, fashion designer Coco Chanel, created the fashionable "little black dress" and trademark suits that reflected her concept of form following function. Chanel's first taste of clothing came from a dress that she fashioned from jersey, a jersey that she had worn to protect her from the cold. In 1925, Chanel designed her legendary suit with collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. Her designs, which borrowed from men's fashion, emphasized comfort over the constraints of then-popular female fashions.