In its latest show, Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art examines the ways in which architecture and fashion commingle in today’s world
The pairing of fashion and architecture together in an art exhibition isn’t necessarily intuitive. After all, the tailored creations of Comme des Garçons, Azzedine Alaïa and Vivienne Westwood may not exactly conjure associations with archi-names like Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid or Herzog & de Meuron. And yet, Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has done just that with its latest show.
Indeed, Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture is a pioneering exhibition that evidences how contemporary fashion and architecture have a hand-in-glove relationship. Staged by MOCA’s Curator of Architecture and Design Brooke Hodge, it illuminates the relationship of bones (structural frame- work) and skin (external surfaces) in fashions and buildings created by 46 archi- tects and fashion designers of the last 25 years.
Hodge says that she began to conceptualize the show six years ago. “I’ve thought for a long time how the two disciplines have borrowed from each other and interact,” she says, citing as inspiration the sculptural garments of designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons and some of the more acclaimed examples of contemporary architecture.“Good fashion and good architecture are based on form and flow of line; they are timeless and not trend-based,” she explains.
Hodge cites that some of Gehry’s building surfaces were inspired by Japanese designer Issey Miyake’s sculpturally pleated garments and that the Southern California-based architect clad the Walt Disney Concert Hall in formed steel much like Comme des Garçons’ Kawakubo wrapped the distorted female form she created with her seminal Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body collection.
Italian-born architect/engineer/fashion designer Elena Manferdini—whose work appears in Skin + Bones—says that she approaches designing a dress much like she would the surface of a building. For her, it’s about transposing human scale and form. Aiming to subvert preconceived notions of seams, materials, modules and color, she tests her ideas on small-scale fashions with the goal of applying them to larger buildings.“The dress for the exhibition is the result of a compre- hensive research on the relationship between fashion and architecture. It sees clothing as a source of traditional and innovative techniques to introduce creativ- ity, effect and taste to the mass culture of building standards,” she comments.
Neil Denari, principal of Los Angeles firm Neil M. Denari Architects, says that architecture, although market driven, allows architects to establish their own notion of fashion. “Buildings, much like apparel, translate into the identity of the buyer,” he says. On the other hand, he suggests that architecture is also about staying impervious to trends while still remaining true to the timeframe in which a building is conceived. “History ultimately judges our work,” he concludes.
Pictured: Todd Eberle, Untitled No. 1, 2003. Frank Gehry,Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California, 2003. Photo © Todd Eberle.