Years ago, when I learned that Tom Ford received his degree in architecture from Parson’s Design School and that fashion was more of an afterthought, I was stunned and excited by his decision to marry these two disciplines together. I find myself on common interdisciplinary ground as a trend forecaster; specifically, as someone whose path began similarly (and seemingly) far afield of fashion. So, for today’s post it felt apropos to share some of my writing on fashion and architecture, trend science and the nature of intuition.
Christopher Alexander, renowned architect, and author of the four part series, The Nature of Order, has been one of the greatest influences on my thinking for the last decade. He writes beautifully about the language of intuition through his work as an artist and builder. He starts by asking, “what is order — in the sense of a deep geometric reality?” This quest to understand the nature of the complex geometrical model we call Earth stems from a very real and personal place for Alexander; a place of feeling and knowing that is directly and “inexplicably connected with [the rules of design that help create and define] order [as we know it]. Which is to say, when we see a space or place or product that is “ordered,” we also experience and recognize this order intuitively as something beautiful or as something that augments our feelings of being alive. Alexander proposes that “order” and “life” arise from the same space and that every form of “order” has some degree of “life.” This quality of “life” is defined as something “which inheres in space itself, and applies to every brick, every stone, every person, every physical structure of any kind at all that appears in space.”
Alexander admits that his way of seeing the world is not an easy task. Seeing “space itself” as the stuff that comes alive” is an entirely new way of understanding reality. But while Alexander is deconstructing the structural foundations of an old world-view, he is by no means rejecting the idea of structure itself. Structure is an integral part of his philosophy. He goes so far as to say that “the key idea of [his] book is that life is structural,” but not by any means mechanical or inanimate.
Looking to Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian man”, Alexander’s writing on the nature of order is not altogether new. Circa 1487, there was already a profound interest in the relationship between the order of architecture and the order inherent in the human body. Vitruvius himself, described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the classical orders of architecture. The relationship between order and architecture and design is something we’ve explored as a species for hundreds, possibly thousands of years!
I hope you enjoyed this brief meditation on fashion and architecture. The photos below also reflect a renewed interest in structured silhouettes. And don’t miss early insights from NYFW 2015 at the end!
NYFW 2015 | Studies in Structure | Fashion and Architecture