Architects that Transitioned into the World of Fashion Design

As with the reverence for an Artist, the term “Architect” can be interpreted in many different ways. The role of architect is one that plans and designs buildings. This is the most important part of building construction. Architecture is a diverse profession. It is both an art and science in every sense. This gives you insight into many subjects that can be used to various ventures.

Many Architecture students are forced to follow a narrow path in order to succeed. It is actually quite interesting to see the many opportunities that exist when you have the chance to diversify. These are some of the successful fashion designers and architects who have branched out.

There are many design similarities between architecture and fashion. Both focus on the idea and practice of construction. They may be focused upon different topics, but they both prioritize form and comfort. Coco Chanel once stated “Fashion is Architecture. It’s a matter of proportions”. They are artisans who strive to bring out their visions through texture and color. Beauty and durability are the ultimate goals of artisans. This output will continue to change and challenge the status quo.

Off-White Flagship Store . Image Courtesy of Off-White

Both the interdependence between them focuses on the idea that problem solving is possible. The designer is required to address a specific problem. The designer will then create a design concept by drawing and planning. Finally, the client will review the work to determine if it is in line with their requirements. Both shelter the human body in both a large- and small-scale sense.

Fashion is dynamic and fluid in its nature while Architecture is more stable in its permanence. Although fashion can be fleeting, it often inspires Architectural thinking and vice versa. As we compare the disciplines, the boundaries blurring between them can be a sign of how multidisciplinary figures came about.

1. Virgil Abloh

Virgil Abloh . Image © Gsapp Student

The most prominent fashion designer turned architect is Louis Vuitton Virgil Abloh. He was originally an Illinois Institute of Technology graduate in Civil Engineering and Architecture before moving into fashion design. He was inspired by Bauhaus’s work, which combined elements from art, craft, and design to create one practice.

Galerie Kreo 'Efflorenscence' Exhibition. Image © Morgane Le Gall

‘Young Architects Can Change the World by Not Building Buildings’ – Virgil Abloh

His words speak depth. His career was a journey into the intersection of fashion and architecture. He often used architectural discourse to inform his explorations. The Efflorescence collection for Galerie Kreo, Paris, 2019, was heavily inspired from Brutalism. It featured heavy concrete blocks covered in street art. The gallery described it as “a landscape in which the rigidity and planning of cities meets the randomness and organic growth, human appropriation and mark-making.”

2. Pierre Balmain

Balmain flagship store on rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. Image © Diego de Pol

Pierre Balmain studied Architecture at the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts in 33 before he was successful in establishing Balmain Fashion House. Later, he fell in love with Haute Couture and left the profession to pursue a career in design.

“Dressmaking is the Architecture for movement” Pierre Balmain

Balmain flagship store on rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. Image © Diego de Pol

Although he had renounced Architectural training, he was still heavily influenced architectural form and design thinking. He saw the creation of the dress in construction. This was similar to how he saw the creation of buildings, which offered form, function, and beauty. He was a huge post-war influence in Hollywood’s rise. He continued to challenge the boundaries between glamour and classical fashion. He believed that dressmaking should be fluid, as it is the kinetic architecture of the body.

3. Tom Ford

Tom Ford, Miami . Image Courtesy of Aranda Lasch

Former Gucci fashion house creative director, Tom Ford is renowned for transforming the label into a popular and provocative line. He founded his own label Tom Ford and experimented with film direction in 2004. It is no surprise to see his background in Architectural Education, having studied Interior Architecture at Parsons School of Design in New York. He was awakened during his final year of studies and entered the fashion design world upon his graduation. He used his architectural design skills to save Gucci from bankruptcy in the 1990’s.

“I just woke up one day and thought, What am I doing?’ Architecture was way too serious. Every architectural project that I have ever worked on, I wore a dress to it. “Fashion was my way of finding the right balance between art, commerce, and fashion. That was how I came to realize that it was. Tom Ford

4. Gianni Versace

Versace mansion ‘Casa Casuarina’. Image © Domino Arts

Gianni Versace, who was a specialist in Architectural drafting, went on to a turbulent and successful career as a fashion designer. He is known for his Architectural influence. His designs are infused with intricate borders and patterns that were inspired by mosaics and other sources of ancient Art. The Versace Medusa, which is prominent on most of his work, and the Versace house, ‘Casa Casuarina, are a reflection of his passion.

“I believe it’s the designer’s responsibility to try to break barriers and rules” – Gianni versace

His innovative icons include the creation of metal garments with German engineers. The infamous mesh “Oroton” fabric is still very popular with the brand. Versace was a pioneer in cutting-edge techniques and innovative design, such as the laser bonding of rubber to leather with the use of lasers. Versace died in 1997.

5. Thierry Mugler & Casey Cadwallader

Tailleur Vampire by Mugler 1988. Image © Manfred Thierry Mugler

Manfred Thierry Mugler once stated ‘I am an Architect who completely redefines a woman’s body”. His most distinctive work is his hyperfeminized haute couture. The House of Mugler, which was briefly a student of Architecture before he transitioned into fashion, continues to take an architectural approach in design and inspiration.

Pop by Mugler in Mali 1987. Image © Manfred Thierry Mugler

Casey Cadwallader is the new creative director of the brand. He studied Architecture before he became a fashion designer. Cadwallader builds on Mugler’s legacy and continues to look for inspiration from architectural precedent, such as Francesco Borromini’s 17 th century works, which serve as a catalyst in the development of innovative new ideas.

Although it may seem unconventional to study fashion, Architecture is a multidisciplinary discipline that continues to inspire and produce many multidisciplinary designers. They can transition into furniture design, interior design, product designing, and many other fields. They continue to inspire one another, with Architecture influencing fashion and interior design influencing fashion. The creative is open to all, there are no boundaries.

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