Architecture For Fashionistas

by | 10. Aug 2016


What happens when top architects and fashion designers team up to create spatial experiences? When top profiles of both worlds join forces, lines between architecture and advertisement blur in interesting ways, surreal settings are created, and magical spaces occur.We have listed a number of spectacular examples of collaborations between architects and fashions designers across the world. This is our guide for fashionistas to the world of architecture – and perhaps, also, the other way around.

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Photo courtesy Foundation Louis Vuitton

Foundation Louis Vuitton 

The enormous sails of Foundation Louis Vuitton tower above Jardin d’Acclimatation, Paris. Its organic-futuristic shapes resemble the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A. and clearly state that this is yet another architectural masterpiece from Gehry Partners. Inside the complex constructions of this new monument of a building, the Louis Vuitton Foundation provides cultural spaces for art, music, educational facilities, and social events. A number of “chapels” shows site-specific art installations, and from rooftop terraces on several levels, you can get a glimpse of the Eiffel tower in the distant horizon. A big, artificial waterfall surrounds the Foundation LV. Underneath the building, visitors can explore a cave-like area designed by the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson; an amazing space of water streams, atmospherically sounds, bright orange lightning, and rows of columns that repeatedly shape the LV monogram.


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Photo courtesy Ramon Pratt

Emporio Armani Flagship Store 

The Hong Kong Flagship Store of Emporio Armani is much more of a space ship or an aquarium than a place built for human beings, which turns a visit in this fashion store to an out-of-this-world experience. The spaces of the Flagship store are formed by plexiglas, floating tables, invisible plinths and surfaces so shiny that the floors are practically mirrors. Staircases of stainless steel and tunnels with blue light connect the spaces of the building, which includes not only a store, but also a restaurant, a café, a flower shop, and a cosmetics shop. Through most of the building winds an enormous, red ribbon made of fiberglass that emerges out of the floor and becomes a bar table, than rises and drops to create a dining space, intersects to house a DJ stand, rises to create a bar space, than turns to create a spiral tunnel that defines the main entrance.


Photo courtesy OMA

G-star RAW HQ 

Keep an eye out if you’re driving on the A10 motorway in The Netherlands. Here, Rem Koolhaas and OMA have designed a physical manifestation of the G-Star Raw brand image – a glass-enveloped, industrial-looking hangar. Because most people see the building from the highway, the architecture is designed to be ‘read’ while passing by at high speed. To passing vehicles, the 20 meter-long G-Star logo turns the whole building into a billboard. In that way, OMA’s building blurs the lines between architecture and advertisement. Koolhaas himself has stated that the building “looks vulgar, like the jeans designed inside”. For those who have read the American architect Robert Venturis ground-breaking study “Learning from Las Vegas”, this ‘raw chic’ collaboration between OMA and G-star Raw serves as an example of the phrase “duck” – a building that has found a very literal expression of what it contains. 


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Photo courtesy Gluckman Mayner Architects

Helmut Lang Parfums Flagshipstore 

In SoHo New York, an architectural interpretation of old-world apothecaries and traditional European perfumeries presents the fragrance line of fashion designer, Helmut Lang. The laboratory setting is designed by Gluckman Mayner Architects, who have turned perfume shopping into an exclusive total experience: Pass through the narrow entry emphasized by an LED contemporary art installation to reach the secluded main retail space with its dramatically installed exhibition of perfume. A mirror-image double stairs leads to the downstairs offices and laboratories. In the very core of the building, a translucent glass wall shields a small, skylight-lit space. In here, customers can receive private fragrance consultations.


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Photo courtesy Pentagram

Alexander McQueen Flagship Store

Theatrical spaces for a fashion brand known for its drama and decadence – architect, William Russell, of Pentagram, has designed the flagship stores of Alexander McQueen in London, Milan, New York – and most recently at the famous Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. The L.A. store stands out, as its location brought the opportunity to design the form of not only the interior, but also the exterior of the building. The façade of the store forms a gentle curve echoing the line of the street. A private courtyard enclosed by high walls is planted with bamboo, conifers, and passion fruits, which creates a sensual atmosphere. Inside the store, the theatrical quality of the interior is inspired by McQueen’s extraordinary catwalk shows – organic structures and elements such as a sculpture of a human figure floating in the air create a spatial experience full of drama and intrigues – which perfectly embodies the fashion brand.


LegorettaxLegoretta 470x350.jpgPhoto courtesy FTM

Fashion and Textile Museum 

A splash of bright pink and orange in the drab streets of London. In a former cash-and-carry warehouse in London’s South Bank area, The Fashion and Textile Museum exhibits contemporary fashion and textile design from the past five decades. The museum is the first in London dedicated to the global fashion industry. It was founded in 2003 by the designer Zandra Rhodes and designed by architects Legoretta + Legoretta. Together, they have formed spaces with an extraordinary use of color. When you walk through the museum, you are met by the shocking pink entrance foyer, a yellow café, glistening marble floor, and a barrel-vaulted bright blue foyer. Besides its eccentric color scheme, the museum includes exhibition spaces, a textile studio, printing workshop, café, and a shop.


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Photo: arcspace

Tokyo shopping street 

The main streets of the Ginza area in Tokyo showcase an Eldorado of collaborations between giants of the fashion world and top architects. The biggest design labels of the world have settled next door to each other, and each of their flagship store houses are designed by prestigious architects. Take a stroll along the streets to see the façade (illuminated by fiber optics at night) of the Dior building, designed by Kumiko Inui, Mikimoto’s pink Ginza 2 store with irregularly shaped windows designed by Tokyo Ito, or the Chanel building with its massive black glass and steel exterior designed by Peter Marino. Also, the area houses a Hermes glass-brick mini skyscraper by Renzo Piano, which has a horse-and-rider statue on top of the building, and a Louis Vuitton store with a monumental pixelated facade of parallel glass tubes in honeycomb formation designed by Jun Aoki. 


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Fondazione Prada

A site in a sparse southern neighbourhood of Milan houses the Fondazione Prada. The foundation sits within stucco walls topped with terracotta roofs – an unassuming presence within the local context. The only hint of what lies within its borders is a simple industrial ‘tower’ clad in gold leaf, only just revealing itself to the street, peeking above the terracotta roofs. The Fondazione Prada is yet another collaboration between Prada and OMA who have been working together for the past 15 years on flagship stores, catwalks, theatre performances, and pavilions. Even though an extravagant foundation placed in humble surroundings of a former industrial complex may sound like a gallery-cliché of the 21st century, Fondazione Prada is anything but. Rather than a traditional art museum, it is a cultural institution that hosts an agglomerate of programs including children’s workshops, residencies, rehearsals, theatre, cinema, and a library in addition to the gallery spaces.

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