The idea of designers and architects working together is nothing new, from the Tokyo store collaboration between Prada and Rem Koolhaas to Hussein Chalayan’s techno virtuosity in morphing dresses into chairs.
We all live in buildings and wear clothes. Traditionally, fashion and architecture have remained quite distinct. However, since 1980s the two disciplines have become closer than ever before.
However, Skin + Bones, Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture (at the new Embankment Galleries in London’s Somerset House until Aug. 10) is a fascinating study of how the two crafts have run separately but on similar lines over the last 25 years.It is an attempt to demystify how these two creative disciplines no longer operate in a cultural vacuum. Sharing materials, design methods and fabrication has inspired radical developments.
Over 50 internationally-renowned architects and designers including Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, Future Systems, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid have come together to ‘fashion’ buildings and ‘construct’ garments. Rather than forcing similarities with grand, academic texts, the visuals are left to speak for themselves.
The exhibition itself has been designed by architect Eva Jiricna and features over 200 works including iconic garments, 3D architectural models and film footage.
Both architects and designers are preoccupied with space, volume and providing a cover for the body, a protection from the environment and a vehicle for social and cultural comment. And these are the kernels at the heart of the exhibition, presented thematically with garments or catwalk videos on one side and architectural parallels opposite.
Clare Catterall, the Somerset House curator of the exhibition explains, “this trend is part of a growing energy and increased synergy between the shared language of architects and fashion designers. Visual culture is very energetic at the moment but I think this exhibition is so timely because it’s only recently that architects have started to embrace fashion and vice versa. Designers are speaking a conceptual language that is very close if not identical to that of architects and hence the two work hand in hand – look at Prada and OMA.”