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Architecture and Fashion Constructing Identity

A Prepared by Anna Batebe in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Master of Architecture degree in the Faculty of Environmental Design, The University of Calgary.

Supervisor, Josh Taron External Supervisor, Thomas Debiki Key words Identity/ experimental architecture/ fashion/ material systems/ technique/art history


“For the truth of the matter is that people have mixed feelings and confused opinions and are subject to contradictory expectations and outcomes, in every sphere of experience”. Donald N. Levine, ‘The Flight from Ambiguity’

Identity succumbs to the complexities and uncertainties of our human nature. Through mechanisms of our material culture, such as fashion and architecture, individuals are constantly negotiating new avenues of expression of individual and collective identity. While the definition of identity suggests a defined construct, its very nature is complex, multidimensional, and far removed from being a single entity. Thus, this thesis analyses the parallels between the disciplines of architecture and fashion as material products of our culture, and their capacity to generate multiple identities. Couture Fashion, as a vessel of expression, has the potential to augment the appearance and identity of an individual. Dress, being closely linked to the corporeal self, has the capacity to “change how the individual is perceived visually; as dress has the potential to change, or enhance the aspects of each individual that are perceived through the other four senses”. (Wolfendale, 67)

The elusive nature of identity is explored through multiple constructs that manifest in the work of Couture fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Through an analysis of anti-fashion, aesthetics and the concepts of ambiguity and ambivalence, new trajectories for experimental architecture are proposed. In addition, material techniques from fashion are explored in their capacity to inform the practise of generating architectural identity. The thesis culminates in the design of a flagship boutique for the haute Couture label Alexander McQueen. Through material exploration, technique, and imaging, the study negotiates the relationship between architecture and fashion as two distinct, yet conceptually similar disciplines; challenging the discipline of architecture as a mechanism of expression of material culture and identity.

Table of contents

Architecture and Fashion parallel disciplines

Late Baroque architecture & dress


McQueen Material and aesthetic identity

Design phase one

Material studies Design McQueen Melrose

Identity figure1. Red dress of feathers


Antifashion Material, The body and identity

Global Fashion and place

Cultural production Architectural branding and Louis Vuitton

Design phase two

Design Concept McQueen Beverly Hills

Conclusion Design show Art Central Images Bibliography Image sources 5

figure 2. Spiral corset cabinet of curiosities


“We define culture as the human-made material items and patterns of thought, feeling and behavior shared by members of a group who regularly interact with one another. Culture, thus includes a broad range of phenomena, both material and non-material in nature” (Eicher, 36). Architecture and fashion are continuously redefined by culture, while both disciplines are mechanisms in the creation of material culture; they in turn are influenced by it. The disciplines of architecture and fashion function as mechanisms that facilitate identity through a conceptual expression of distinct elements. The Haute couture culture in particular, is characterised by the creation of distinct, yet evolutionary elusive characteristics. Similarly, architecture serves as a powerful mechanism of Identity production, despite being less ephemeral in nature. Couture Fashion, as a vessel of expression, has the potential to augment the appearance and identity of an individual. Dress, being closely linked to the corporeal self, has the capacity to “change how the individual is perceived visually; as dress has the potential to change, or enhance the aspects of each individual that are perceived through the other four senses”. (Wolfendale, 67)

Likewise, Architecture has the material capabilities of communicating identity. While not directly related to the corporeal self as fashion presents itself; Architecture relates to the body through spatial relationships of the body in space, thus sharing an undeniable relationship. In addition, both Architecture and fashion represent genres of our material culture that serve both practical and socio-cultural functions. However, despite sharing a practical purpose of providing shelter through housing, and clothing respectively, fashion as a mechanism of cultural production has been successful at functioning beyond its utilitarian purpose and delivering emotional content. Thus, as designers, we have to ask ourselves, should the discipline of Architecture allow itself to be informed by more expressive disciplines of our material culture?



Architecture and Fashion; Parallel evolutions

“I think that couture has complete relevance today. Designer fashion shouldn’t be throwaway. I remember when I first started out, I used to walk past what was then Valentino in Bond street, and just look in amazement at the way the clothes were finished. I was working at Savile Row at the time, it was about 1985, and it was miraculous, so inspiring. I think that during the nineties, care and attention to detail got lost somehow. This collection is about going back to that level of refinement. Every piece is unique and has emotional content. I want to create pieces that can be handed down like an heirloom” Alexander McQueen - on the collection “Widows of Culloden” (Savage Beauty, 25) The opening commentary by Alexander McQueen, on the ‘widows of Culloden’, references the historic periods that were defined by meticulous cultural production. Historically, Architectural and fashion production was defined by an excessive aesthetic, which favoured intricate detailing and exquisite material refinement. Historic periods such as the late Baroque, demonstrate the emergence of parallel formal evolutions in both Architecture and Fashion, and the launch of luxury material artefact. figure 3. Red Cape

The rise of Baroque Court Architecture: Versailles

The Late Baroque period in Architecture was defined by meticulous, excessively crafted material production. Architecture, witnessed the rise of the Royal residence in France, Chateau de Versailles, erected by King Louis the XIV, on the former grounds of the Royal hunting lodge. Versailles, as a material product of the Baroque period, provides an incomparable example of Architectures ability to create distinct identities of wealth, power and dominance. The palace of Versailles, designed by Louis Le Vau was created as a material representation of the absolute power of the French monarch. The extensive palace Architecture was designed to accommodate most noble men within the government, creating a political stronghold, and establishing Louis XIV as the sovereign ruler of France. Versailles, was planned in multiple phases, and consisted of numerous secondary structures. The original secondary structures featured the Petit Trianon, the Grand Trianon, the Menagerie, The Pavillion de la Lanternne and the Trianon Porcelaine; all of which served exclusive functions. The excessive material production at Versailles is aptly demonstrated in the ‘Grande Galerie’ or the hallway of mirrors.

The hallway, designed by Jules Hardouin Mansart was built during the third palace building campaign starting in 1678. The hallway features opulent Architecture, characterised by prominent arches and the excessive use of mirrors and gilded ornamentation. This excessive, opulent material production of the Baroque launched the visual identity of luxury Architectural production. As a result, the Architectural style of Versailles became the blueprint for Luxury Architecture throughout Europe, inspiring numerous royal residences.


figure 4. Hallway of Mirrors Versailles

figure 5. Window detail Versailles

figure 6. Interior ceiling detail Versailles

figure 7. Exterior court Versailles

figure 8. Interior detail Antoinette room

figure 9. Chapel Versailles

The emergence of Historic Court dress (Eighteenth century Baroque)

Comparable to Architecture, fashion’s role as a mechanism of communication became apparent in the eighteenth century Royal courts of France. The court of Versailles rendered court dress significant in the creation of powerful cultural identity. During this period, dress was primarily a maker of social status, “like other identity tensions that seek an outlet in dress, social status, too succumbs to a dialectic of endless reflexivity’s spawned by a host of ever-shifting ambivalence’s regarding matters of wealth, worldly attainment, and social position” (Davis, 57).

The British monarch during the eighteenth and nineteenth century affords another example of court dress as a distinctive marker of status and identity within society. While royal garments have become more subtle in recent years, “fine clothes were historically the prerogative of the upper echelons of society and were enormously expensive, far more than they have been in recent times: costly fabrics, imported silks and furs, jewelled ornaments, lace and fine linen were worn in substantial quantities by the royal court” (9, Staniland).

The powerful Identity of the French monarch manifested in opulent, extravagant court dress for both the gentlemen and ladies of the Royal family. During this period ``clothing had become to be so intimately associated with status assertions and pretensions that sumptuary laws were enacted throughout Europe, which forbade commoners from displaying fabrics and styles that aristocracy sought to reserve for itself`` (Davis, 58). Thus, court dress served as a marker of identity within the royal family and the society at large; with the Queen wearing the most elaborate of court gowns, presented and worn with specific rituals. In addition, members of the royal family also wore elaborate court gowns however, more subtle in appearance to the queen’s attire. This distinct stratification of dress was later adopted by European monarchs such as Sweden and Denmark.

In Britain, the king rendered himself the centre of attention by whatever means possible; clothing, castle furnishings, and his residences were employed to this end” (12, Staniland). In addition, within the court of George, Princess Charlotte and Queen Victoria both employed elaborate dress to signify prominent occasions in their lives such as marriage, coronations and state public appearances; demonstrating the capacity of fashion to function as a mechanism of communication. In later years, the opulent material production of the Baroque era became synonymous with Haute Couture fashion. Material aesthetics, such as intricate lacework, the use of lavish fabrics, and historic silhouettes made unmistakeable reference to historical dress.


Cultural and identity production during the Baroque era presented itself in an exclusive uncomplicated manner. Elaborate dress and Architecture was exclusive to the upper class in society and signified wealth and status. Contrary to this notion of identity, contemporary society presents a more complex, multidimensional approach to the construct of identity, with multiple meanings and interpretations. Identity is no longer defined, but rather an elusive construct.


figure 10. Gown of Sophia Magdalena

Identity McQueen’s Idenity

figure 11. Dress Romantic exoticism collection

McQueen`s Identity

“My collections have always been autobiographical, a lot to do with my own sexuality and coming to terms with the person I am, it was like exorcising my ghosts in the collections. They were to do with my childhood, the way I think about life and the way I was brought up to think about life”

Can the discipline of Architecture be informed by an open concept of identity from fashion? Can the elusive nature of fashion manifest in an Architectural spectacle; layered in meaning with multiple itineraries for experience?


Prominent fashion couturiers are known for their ability to innovate and produce novel materials and techniques that have been absent from the current body of fashion; such was the work of Alexander McQueen. McQueen’s material ingenuity, technique and craftsmanship were exceptional. From his first collection upon graduating from Central Saint Martins, McQueen’s exceptional tailoring and technical ingenuity created distinct aesthetics and material identities for the McQueen brand.

As a designer, McQueen’s interpretation of identity had a profound influence on the acceptance and success of his work. Central to McQueen’s creative vision was the concept of individualism, which can be traced in history to the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, epitomised in art by Eugene Delariox, and in music by Ludwig van Beethoven that asserted the creativity and ingenuity of the individual artist. (Savage Beauty, 13). Alexander McQueen’s notion of identity embodies the individuals disease in resolving internal ambivalences (Davis, 26). McQueen’s collections are characterised by dialectical opposing themes (savage beauty, 32) that demonstrate the tensions to which identity succumbs. As demonstrated in the work of Alexander McQueen, identity is a multidimensional construct with multiple avenues for interpretation. Through trajectories such as material aesthetics, Anti fashion, and identity ambivalences, multiple factors are at play in the production of fashions identity.


Material & Aesthetic Identity Romantic Gothic

Fashion as a discipline has been successful in creating material aesthetics that illicit emotional response from its audience. Through fashion, material aesthetic has provided a tactile, evocative representation of cultural production and has created new trajectories in the representation of the body. Through material aesthetic, can fashion propose new techniques and constructs in the making of Architecture? Material and Aesthetic identity, explores the work of Alexander McQueen, and prominent fashion couturiers ability to generate techniques and material aesthetics that could be applied to the production of Architecture. Alexander McQueen’s aesthetic Alexander McQueen’s work reflects his preoccupation with Romanticism, as best classified by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in his posthumous tribute “Savage Beauty”, McQueen’s complex body of work is classified into dominant themes that revolve around the concept of the romantic. The stylistic themes include, the “Romantic Gothic”, “Romantic Nationalism”, “Romantic Naturalism”, “Romantic Primitivism” and “Romantic Exoticism”; all of which define the prominent aesthetic themes of his work. “There is something …kind of Edgar Allan Poe, kind of deep and melancholic about my collections”


McQueen’s collections that characterise the “Romantic Gothic” are inspired by his preoccupation with historicism. As a designer McQueen makes multiple historical references in his work through material technique, concept and their emotional content. McQueen was particularly inspired by the Victorian Gothic, and his collections “Dante” (autumn/ winter 1996-97) and “Supercalifragilistexpidalidocious” (autumn/ winter 2002-03) both reflect the historic era’s influence on his work (depicting the dark fantasy and beauty that characterised the Victorian Gothic). Pieces such as the Black duck dress and the leather dress, all exemplify the aesthetic beauty of the Victorian Gothic era, which combined elements of horror and romance, and often reflect paradoxical relationships such as light and darkness. (Savage Beauty, 13)

figure 12. Romantic Gothic McQueen. Black duck feather dress

figure 13. Black leather dress

figure 14. Black dress Romantic mind

figure 15. Romantic Nationalism McQueen’s tartan

[The] Romantic Mind

Romantic Nationalism

“The Romantic Mind” focuses on Alexander McQueen’s exceptional technique and craftsmanship. Early in his career, McQueen interned at Cornelius O’Callaghan of London’s Savile Row, and later Anderson and Sheppard (by appointment to the Royal family); both of whom were amongst the most respected bespoke coat tailors at the time. Through this rigorous training McQueen learnt impeccable clothes construction and assembly; which later became synonymous with his brands identity.

“Romantic Nationalism” reflects upon Alexander McQueen’s personal construct of Identity and nationalism. Having Scottish roots, McQueen remained attached to Scotland, and his love of his country permeated his collections. McQueen’s collections “The Highland Rape”, and the sequel collection “Widows of Culloden” provide a narrative of his political stance on the Scotland uprisings under the hands of the British Empire; ones that McQueen stated were nothing short of genocide. As a collection “Highland Rape” focused on capturing personal and individual sentiments of his psychology and identity as Scott. In addition, McQueen uses materials with strong visual ties to his nationality identity. The McQueen tartan in particular, was a fabric McQueen created and used in multiple collections.

The Romantic mind “reveals an approach to fashion that combines the precision and traditions of tailoring and pattern making that with the spontaneity and improvisations of draping and dressmaking” (Savage Beauty, 13). The collection pays tribute to his most technically complex pieces and collections that demonstrated his impeccable garment fabrication skills. An outstanding production from McQueen was the creation of the oyster dress. The Oyster dress is fabricated from hundreds of layers of silk organza to create an organic oyster layering effect. The gown demonstrates the power of material technique in the creation of material aesthetic and identity. The dress delivers tangible emotional content, appearing shredded and tattered at the top, as if it had endured physical stress.

In addition, McQueen demonstrates his connection to England in “Romantic Nationalism”; London, in particular was special to McQueen, having grown up in England, he pays tribute to the country through the collection “The girl who lived in a tree” (autumn/winter 2008-09). In this collection McQueen constructs an elaborate narrative, “a fairy tale inspired by an elm tree in the garden of McQueen’s country home” (Savage Beauty, 14). The garments through material and construct make strong references to the British Empire and court dress.


Romantic Exoticism

Romantic Primitivism

Alexander McQueen was seduced by exotic cultures and aesthetics. Having interned in Spain at a young age McQueen’s spatial horizons as a designer began to expand, as did his fascination of the exotic. McQueen’s love of the exotic tied back to his Romantic sensibilities, as “the lure of the exotic was a central theme of Romanticism” (Savage Beauty, 14). McQueen’s engagement with exotic themes became apparent in his use of exotic materials, technique and textures that referenced various destinations and cultures such as Africa, Spain, and the Far East.

“Romantic Primitivism” features McQueen’s collections that romanticise the primitive or cultural dress of exotic cultures. The collections such as his post graduating collection Nihilism (spring /summer 1994) and Eshu (autumn/winter 2000-1) feature garments that fetishize materials. The black synthetic coat created for the Eshu collection features a black coat made entirely of black hair. The coat fetishizes material through its use of unadulterated material and minimal design aesthetic.

In the show ‘It’s only a Game’ (Spring/summer 2005) McQueen’s affinity for the exotic becomes apparent. The show features a “A staged chess game inspired by a scene in the film ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ (2001) which he pitched the East (Japan) against the West (America)” (Savage Beauty, 14)


figure 16. Romantic Exoticism. Oriental floral dress

figure 17. Romantic Primitivism. Black eshu coat

Fashion’s Couturiers Material & aesthetic identity

figure 18. McQueen accessories

Issey Miyake (Technique, innovation) Material innovations and techniques from fashion could have profound influence on the practise of Architecture. Tokyo based designer, Issey Miyake has had a significant influence on the fashion world as a pioneer of innovative material assembly techniques such as the innovative pleat. “ Miyake pioneered a pleating process by which a piece of polyester is cut and sewn in the shape of a given garment, then sandwiched and pleated between layers of paper and fed into a heat press machine. The “memory” of the fabric holds the pleats and when the paper is cut open, the finished garment is revealed. This technology called “garment pleating” is the foundation for the pleats and minarets. Miyake’s pleated garments take on architectonic shapes when worn, and the wearers movement causes them to bounce, float, or jump like kinetic artworks that expand and contract” (skin+bones, 164).

The delineation of smooth space vs. striated space resonates in Miyake’s work the A-POC; “Industrial process by which fabric, texture, and a completed knit- the components of a fully finished woven garment-are made in a single proc¬ess. The first iteration of A-POC comprised the production of continuous knit tubes from which seamless garments can be extruded by cutting around lines of demarcation customized to the wearers needs” (skin+ bones, 164).

As a designer, Miyake has devoted the majority of his energy into technology and design research, with conceptual approaches running parallel to architectural concepts of the creation of space.


figure 19. Miyake pleat detail dress

figure 20. Hussein Chalayan. S/S 1997

Iris Van Herpen

Hussein Chalayan

(Identity, technique)

(Fashion, Identity, theatricality)

Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen continuously pushes the boundaries of fashion and material expression. Van Herpen characterises her work as design that seeks to provide an expression of an identity founded on specific human emotions and responses to cultural landscape. Van Herpen’s collections indulge the viewer into a material fantasy of expression; with themes varying from cultural critiques on subjects such as pollution in ‘Refinery smoke’ to human conditions in ‘Synethesia’.

The London based designer Hussein Chalayan produces cerebral collections driven by a design process centered on a critique of our culture, technology and identity. Chalayan’s work is closely related to the human experience, this manifests not only in the creation of his garments, but also in the orchestration of his projects through elaborate performances. “Inspired by nature, culture and technology, his designs reveal and ongoing preoccupation with issues related to his experiences as a Turkish Cypriot living abroad and to the wider realms of religion, cultural identity and migration” (skin + bones, 60)

Van Herpen skilfully creates material beauty, which starkly contrasts the concept behind the collection. These stark contradictions between the beautiful and the ugly create a complex relationship between pleasurable and terror, that can be likened to the sublime in art. Van Herpen’s collections range from formal material explorations dealing with shredding textiles, such as leather, glossy opaque materials and sheer fabrics (Synethesia); to draping threads and forms that augment the body’s proportions in her collection ‘fragile futurity’. Through material experiments, Van Herpen tests the ability of fashion to convey an artistic expression of material, form and identity.

To Hussein Chalayan, fashion serves as a vessel to provide a critique of our culture and our time. Chalayan forces us to contemplate the relationship between garments and their ability to provide refuge, to constrain, all while representing a distinct identity of the body. Chalayan’s ‘Son of Sonzai’ performance, created for the Aware “Art fashion and identity” at the Royal Academy of arts in London, uses performance art to serve as a cultural critique of the fashion industry. Through Chalayan’s inspiration from Japanese theatre, he creates a spectacle for the viewer in which three figures clocked in black, surround a clothed mannequin and manipulate the garment that she wears, as if striving for the perfect look. The performance was inspired by Japanese theatre combining both haiku and banraku.


figure 21. Iris Van Herpen ‘smoke and mirrors’

figure 22. hussein Chalayan The set features figures represented by large life size puppets, with the use of no special effects and the manipulators in full view of the public. (Coppard, 75) Through material techniques and concepts from fashion, new trajectories of experimental architecture are generated. Through experimental approaches, the identity of architecture has the potential to continuously evolve, and become an affective representation of contemporary material culture.


Design Phase one Material Experiments_Melrose

figure 23. Romantic Naturalism Collection


The material technique studies make an attempt at discovering techniques in fashion that could be applied to the making of Architecture. By studying gowns from McQueen’s collections through drawing, and dissection; the anatomy of the body in relation to fashion is explored. The studies create a catalogue of techniques that can be applied to the creation of architectural space.

figure 24. free hand drawings


Material effects

white tulle

Digital material experiments

figure 25. White tulle dress The Autumn Winter 2011/2012 Ready To Wear collection runway took place at La Conciergerie, which was also used for Alexander McQueen’s Autumn Winter 2002 ‘Supercalifragilistic’ show. Sarah Burton reflected in the collection Alexander McQueen’s love of dark and light however it was the white gowns that were truely stunning adorned with heavy texture, feather and lace details.

The Tulle system is explored as a single unit then aggregated to create a larger construct.

Structure & performance

red cape

Digital surface experiments_ Iteration 1 Surface form testing allows the material system to be understood both in terms of constructablilty and structure, the tested surface responds to gravity much like fabric would and creates a varied topography.

figure 26. Red cape

Digital surface experiments_ Iteration 2 The surface studies are projected into multiple forms that could be applied to various architectural contexts. The form studies provide a method of testing the system’s capabilities.

Digital surface experiments_ Iteration 3 Detail of surface structure


Structure & performance

spinal corset

interior render of skeletal technique assembly

figure 27. Spinal corset Alexander McQueen The spinal corset studies were particularly interested in the exploration of material systems that had inherent structure built into them. The Spinal corset by McQueen was a particularly inspiring piece that creates a system with an inherent structure that could operate with secondary structures. The renders depict technique studies that explore structure in relation to spinal structures and aesthetics.

Plan render of skeletal technique assembly

> Fluid circulation Spaces with different program are not isolated. The design features a fluid circulation that takes you from one program directly to another, this enhances connectivity within the space.

> Suspended Display occulus The store display is structurally integrated to allow for both permanent and seasonal collections to be displayed The material system has the potential to adapt to the building’s primary system. The system changes structurally, as the stores program changes. pockets of display areas, fitting rooms and apparel display are seamlessly integrated into one system.

Plan render of skeletal technique assembly

Design Melrose Site Testing (Material experiments) figure 28. Oyster Dress Alexander McQueen

figure 29. 8379 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles The design intervention at the existing Alexander McQueen store located on Melrose Avenue (Los Angeles) was one that was focused on the testing of material systems in an existing architectural environment. The Melrose location is an averaged size flagship store that houses a seasonal collection of 75 pieces. Method The site serves as a testing ground for the aforementioned Red cape material studies.The red undulating surface was inspired by the material tests on the red cape. The surface responds to gravity in the same manner fabric would. The red material study is later combined with the white tulle surface. The material experiments are aimed at determining what material combinations and assemblies are applicable to the practise and generation of Architecture. In addition, the potential for Architecture to illicit emotional response from the viewer is tested, Architecture is no longer represented as an expression detached from the corporeal self; but rather as an extension of oneself through apparel. 39

Design Rationale Melrose

Design Intent The design intent behind the Melrose boutique was to create material systems that created experiential effects. Using material tests from early in the design process, the Melrose boutique suggests possible applications and projections for fashion material techniques in Architecture. While the store is small in size, and simple in program; it functioned well as a testing site for the material systems. Design Limitations The restricted program and area greatly influenced potential design outcomes. Since the design intervention was restricted to the manifold space of the main gallery, the material systems only operated in a manifold condition and did not integrate with their exterior site. figure 30. Interior of McQueen Melrose boutique 40

main showroom

figure 31. interior plan of boutique Image showing plan of Melrose flagship store and main showroom



A surface volume is created that serves as the manifold surface the material systems opertae on. The surface mdulations created various spatial condidtions constricting and opening space.


The central columns are then worked into the space, the interpaly with the columns and the volumetric ceiling create a unified yet distinctly different combination of material systems and spatial conditions.

Perspective view of assembly

The material site tests explore the combination of two material systems.The ceiling detail and the central display columns are explored in combination to test the variety of spatial conditions that can be created within the space.

Diagram illustrating the assembly of material systems on Melrose site


Design iteration one Image showing manifold condition and the interaction between the two material systems, the red undulating wall and the tulle ceiling system.

Design iteration two Sectional render through manifold condition depicting entrance (left) and dropped ceiling condition. The space boasts a continuous interior volume.

Design iteration two Design iteration two depicting the entrance condition of the store.

iteration three Sectional render through manifold condition depicting fractured central gallery and open ceiling condition.

Render of interior gallery_Iteration two

Render of interior gallery_Iteration three


The Anti-Fashion of Haute Couture

figure 32. McQueen Accessories

“In things that are considered in “bad taste” you can always find a certain beauty”. Jean Paul Gaultier A second trajectory in the exploration of Identity, can be sought through the concept of Anti-fashion. “Anti-fashion is as much a creature of fashion as fashion itself, is the means of its own undoing. This would seem obvious in that whatever form anti-fashion takes it must via some symbolic device of opposition, rejection, studied neglect, parody, satire, etc. address itself to the fashion of the time” (Davis, 163). Could Architecture benefit from a critique on itself? Could the discipline itself be the means of its own undoing? Through Alexander McQueen’s work, unmistakable facets of Anti-fashion are apparent through satirical critiques, and the negation of societal ideals of beauty. By constantly challenging the Haute Couture institution in his collections, McQueen subverts the identity of couture fashion. McQueen’s collection ‘The Horn of Plenty’ subtitled ‘Everything but the kitchen sink’ critiques the exclusive identity of the Haute couture culture, and its ability to mould our societal value for material artefact. The show, features Haute Couture garments of great value juxtaposed with recognisable objects of no value; thus, critiquing the value placed on material object.

As demonstrated through his use of satire in the collection ‘The Horn of Plenty’, and in numerous runway shows; anti-fashion manifests in multiple forms, with feminine protest being a strong underlying theme. As witnessed in the majority of fashion, especially the “clothing code of the west generally, a principal means, as much actual as symbolic, by which institutions of patriarchy have managed over the centuries to oppress women and to relegate them to inferior social roles. Not to mention the contemporary fixation of fashion on youth, slenderness, sexuality and eroticism; serves mainly to diminish other aspects of a woman’s person, while enforcing those favored by men. (Davis, 175) Through his collections, McQueen contradicts this societal identity of women by portraying them in elaborate and overtly powerful dress. “I want to empower women. I want people to be afraid of the women I dress” McQueen (Savage Beauty, 37) Through dress, McQueen creates extreme representations of power; as mentioned in ‘The Horn of Plenty’, McQueen’s models stand taller and prouder than ever, in hugely elevated footwear. The work is an expression of power-dressing at its most elaborate and extreme, it’s like putting armor on a woman. It’s a very psychological way of dressing. (Savage Beauty, 60)


Ambiguity Vs Ambivalence “Fashion is the evidence of the human impulse to bring the body closer to an elusive transient ideal” (Koda, 28) While several theories have been formulated to define identity, few are able to allude to its complexities.However, fashion theory through the lens of ambiguity and ambivalence provides a fascinating trajectory into the complexities that define human identity. Through the terms ambiguity and ambivalence, fashion theorist Fred Davis explores identity ambivalences such as status, sexuality and gender as facets that construct human identity. Davis, in his work Fashion, Culture and Identity uses the terms ambiguity and ambivalence to define the unstable nature of identity; while ambivalence alludes to contradicting, or mixed feelings about something, ambiguity alludes to that which has more than one interpretation (Oxford). Both ambiguity and ambivalence function in relation to one another and express the “oscillations and dis-ease identity uncertainties cause” (Davis, 25). Could the production of Architecture be structured to allow ambiguity and ambivalence to exist? Could form, program and circulation afford multiple permutations and itineraries?

“It can be said that in very large part our identities – our sense of who we are and what we are –take shape in terms of how we balance and attempt to resolve the ambivalences to which our natures, our times, and our culture make us heir” (Strauss 1959) Apparel or clothing can be viewed as a mechanism or device that projects an identity that is an extension of ones corporeal self. Thus, “dress, then comes easily to serve as a kind of visual metaphor for identity and, as pertains in particular to the open societies of the west, for registering the culturally anchored ambivalences that resonate within and among identities” (Davis, 26). Through fashion, Identity is constantly redefined; it is never permanent, but ephemeral in nature. “I oscillate between life and death, happiness and sadness, good and evil” McQueen (Savage Beauty)

Ambiguity Ambiguity as a concept references that which has multiple interpretations and meanings. McQueen creates complex identities, layered in meaning and interpretation, by drawing from multiple historical references in fashion and art. Through formal explorations, in color, texture, material detailing, and performance; McQueen projects aesthetic elements that reference multiple historical periods. A significant collection of McQueen’s work references historical art and fashion. For example, McQueen’s 2010 autumn/ winter collection makes unmistakeable references to historical artefact. “The autumn collection is inspired by Byzantine art, the carvings of Grinling Gibbons, and Old Master paintings and altar pieces including, in particular, works by Jean Fouquet, Sandro Botticelli, Stephan Lochner, Hans Memling, Hugo van der Goes, Jean Hey and Heironymus Bosch” McQueen (Alexander Furthermore, McQueen’s 2008 Women’s fall/ winter collection ‘The girl who lived in a tree’ is based on a tale of the British Empire, and makes formal and material historical references to English royal court dress. The red cape in particular, is reminiscent of the royal cloaks worn by the Queen of England and the French kings (Louis XIV). In addition, the white jeweled gown from ‘The girl who lived in a tree’ is representative of eighteenth century court fashion that was constructed from opulent jewels and luxurious fabrics.


Ambivalences of Sexuality The body and Identity figure 33. Romantic Exoticism

“Fashion, in its more exuberant moments is seldom content with the silhouette that nature has provided, but usually seeks to lay particular stress upon some single part or feature, which is then treated as a special center of erotic charm” (Koda, 26) Over the decades, fashions couturiers have controlled what parts of the human body are accentuated and eroticized. While fashion serves as a mechanism to augment the body, and heighten desire and allure; the shifting erogenous zone theory demonstrates the complexities, and the ephemeral relationship of the body to material identity. Thus, material, the body and Identity examines formal strategies in fashion, their relationship to the body’s shifting erogenous zone. Ambivalences of sexuality can be traced historically, with complex allegories appearing in art. The “Virgin and Child” by Fouquet, provides striking example of the Western cultures erotic-chaste tension in identity.

Furthermore, sexuality ambivalences in identity can be traced historically through prominent Western court dress. Prominent dress in the eighteenth century, in particular Royal court dress, accentuated specific zones of the female physique. The exaggeration or accentuation of the waist was seen as an aesthetic ideal of beauty within this era; Countless royal apparel from the British, French to the Swedish monarchs employed gowns that boasted this idealized representation of the female form. A prominent piece is the coronation gown of Queen Sofia Magdalena of Sweden. Queen Magdalena’s gown is an exceptional example of court dress of the eighteenth century that portrays the fascination with creating a hyper exaggerated slender waistline. The gown, crafted for the Queen in Paris, was hand manufactured from silver cloth, and boasts three distinct pieces that make up the ensemble; the bodice, skirt and train. The bodice skirt which was projected far off from the hips of the body created a fuller lower body and accentuated the slenderness of the waist. In addition, the dress possessed a long train of about twelve feet in length; elongating the body and creating a grand, exaggerated silhouette.

“There an amply clocked, chaste- visaged Mary, the model for whom was Agnes Sorel, mistress to Fouquet’s patron Charles VII of France, is shown haughtily baring from within a tightly laced bodice a breast of extraordinary voluptuousness to the infant Jesus seated up on her knee”. (Koda, 34)


figure 34. McQueen, 18th century reminiscent gown

While the eighteenth century was concerned with the waist as an ideal part of the body, the twentieth century saw a marked change in what body parts were considered erotic or alluring. In fashion, the location of the erogenous zone has been fleeting, with elements of concealment, disguise, denial, and calculated ambiguity affecting the equation, and forming an integral part of the erotic dialect emanating from much clothing (Davis, 86). Prominent Haute couturiers are frequently reinventing the body’s erogenous zone. As seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition, Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed. The fleeting nature of the erogenous zone is explored through a fascinating account of various zones such as the neck, chest and shoulders, and waist. “I think there has to be an underlying sexuality. There has to be pervasiveness to the clothes. There is a hidden agenda in the fragility of romance. It’s like the story of O. I’m not big on women looking naïve. There has to be a sinister aspect, whether its melancholy or sadomasochist. I think everyone has a deep sexuality, and sometimes it’s good to use a little of it, and sometimes a lot of it- like a masquerade” McQueen ( Savage Beauty)


Neck and shoulders “The preference for a long neck is perhaps the only corporeal aesthetic that is universally shared” (Koda,42). Historically, the neck has been an erogenous zone of fixation with multiple designers altering the manner in which the neck is perceived. Historical art work such as “Parmigianino” Madonna with the long neck depict the fascination with the long neck as an ideal standard of beauty. Contemporary designers such as the Japanese national Yoshiki Hishinuma have demonstrated the fascination with the neck through garments that augment the body through artistic illusion. As seen in the designers 2001 fall winter collection, “Yoshiki Hishinuma’s ensemble extends the effect of the ruff onto the shoulders. Two rows of identically constructed bands adumbrate the puffed neckpiece”(Koda, 21), giving an illusion of a continuous relationship of the neck to the torso. The optical illusion demonstrates fashions ability to augment the perception of the human body, and in essence, the identity of the wearer. In similar fashion, Alexander McQueen capitalizes on sexuality ambivalences and ambiguities in his work, to express the complex nature of identity. McQueen’s work critiques society’s preoccupation with the standard eroticized parts of the body, and proposes new identities of women through fashion.


McQueen’s “Dante” collection for Fall Winter 1998 features a lilac jacket that accentuates the neck of the human body. The jacket features an oversized, turned up collar that stretches past the neck, cheekbones and eventually terminates mid ear. The design is minimal, creating a simple silhouette that accentuates the neck. The design references the historic Incryables, and their female counterparts, the Merveilleuses, who took fashion to mannered extremes (Koda, 23). McQueens directoire* tendencies are also evident in his 1998 collection with Givenchy; where he served as creative director. In the Ensemble with turned up collar, the body is transformed into a figure with an elongated neck and shoulder region. The white lace ensemble features an exaggerated collar that extends above the ear, creating an illusion of a long statuesque neck. This constant oscillation of preferred erotic zones in fashion exemplifies the ephemeral unstable nature of identity. *Directoire and Empire (1795-1815) “This period, referred to as Regency style in England, It saw a drastic shift in dress for both men and women, though for women this change would be short lived. Classical Greek and Roman images were evoked to justify the democratic revolutions of this period. This resulted in the adoption of a classically inspired silhouette for women, which was long, narrow, uncorsetted, and high waisted”. (Jirousek)

figure 35. McQueen, Dante ‘Turned up collar’

Shoulders Haute Couture’s fascination with the shoulders can be traced through the works of Viktor and Rolf in the ‘Black Hole” collection circa 1995. In ‘Black Hole’, the designer’s focus is exaggerated silhouettes, and shoulder details that make references to fashions historic eras. “Victor and Rolf are noted for their manipulation of the proportions of the Grand Guignol effect. With their turgoid sleeves, they exaggerate the dimensions of a historical style that was itself an exaggeration of an earlier style. In doing so, they diminish not so much the waist as the whole of the torso” (Koda, 37). Similarly, McQueen’s work during his tenure as creative director of Givenchy in the late 1990s demonstrates a fascination with the shoulders as a zone of interest. In Givenchy’s Haute Couture, fall winter collection in 1997, McQueen exaggerates the shoulders, through the use of a heavily skirted, layered coat that transforms the human physique. The piece also draws our attention to the ambivalences of culture, through his use of exotic material and representation. The use of foreign materials outside of their known context (used by indigenous groups in Africa) creates an interesting juxtaposition of culture and identities. “Alexander McQueen’s coat alludes not to the past but to other cultures, with the metal neck rings and feather headdress pointing to Africa, where in the rituals of certain men’s secret societies and the exceptional female society of the Mende culture, dancers perform with masks bordered by a thick skirt of grass” (Koda, 41).


figure 36. McQueen, puffed shoulder Jacket

figure 37. Vctor & Rolf black hole

Hips Dependent on culture, the location of, and the significance of the erogenous zone varies significantly. Historically, disconnect has existed between societies idealized fashionable body and the erotic body. “While the erotic ideal intersects the fashions ideal body at several points, it has tended to give far greater emphasis to the size and firmness of the bust line and the smallness of the waistline, and the fullness of the hipline and derriere”. From historical precedents such as the aforementioned dress of Sophia Magdalena of Sweden, we are able to trace the allure of the hipline as an erogenous zone in the early stages of eighteenth century fashion. Contemporary designers such as Versace Haute Couture have demonstrated the hips as an erogenous zone in their designs. Versace’s fall/winter 1999 collection features a “cropped overdress and a trained underskirt”. This take on the eighteenth century “recalls the gold festooned costume of Louis XIV dressed as Apollo, like the rigorous symmetrically of its eighteenth century precedents, this design creates a structured bell shape”. (Koda, 123) Alexander McQueen’s ‘Sarabande’ collection celebrates the erotic body. Depicting his romantic sensibilities as a designer through his “melancholic undertone: faded flowers are trapped in chiffon and lace, ruffled skirts constructed out of tiers of delicate petals and prints are botanical – brightly colored birds and blooms, scattering swallows and winding stems of leaves” (Savage Beauty, 45).


Mc Queen idealises the erotic female form and its hourglass silhouette, the ensembles feature clinched waists and amply sized busts and hip zones. “I like the padded hips because they didn’t make the piece look historical, but more sensual. Like the statue of Diana with breasts and big hips, it’s more maternal. More womanly” McQueen on Sarabande (Savage Beauty, 34)

Figure. 38 & 39 Sarabande

The Chest

McQueen’s erogenous zone

During the eighteenth century, multiple fashions, such as corsets were introduced to draw attention to the chest, “Emphasis on the breasts was a deliberate rather than an ancillary effect of the corsets displacement of flesh”.(Koda, 55). The fascination with the chest as an erogenous zone came under critic by fashions prominent Haute Couturiers; designers such as Issey Misake critiqued society’s fascination with the chest as practice that sexually objectifies zones of the body.

McQueen constructed new identities through his personal take on the erogenous zone. McQueen’s collection the ‘Highland Rape’ from autumn/ winter 1995- 96 demonstrates the elusive nature of the erogenous zone. Through this collection, the viewer is made aware of the ephemeral, nature of sexuality in the construction of identity.

Miyake, in his 2000 fall/winter collection “insulated the breasts with a buffer of pile- lined felt, was reacting to the erotic objectification ultimately expressed by similar contemporary latex renderings that are sold as sexual paraphernalia; and also responding to the bust as a primary erogenous zone in western culture”. (Koda, 56) In similar fashion, Alexander McQueen’s work emphasizes the chest, not as a sexualized zone of the body, but rather as a symbol of power. Through the use of an aesthetic similar to that of body armor, McQueen critiques cultures representation of the chest as sexual object. Through his designs such as the spinal corset and the coiled corset, McQueen creates dis-ease with his accessories portraying a powerful visual representation of fashion, laden with misogyny and sadomasochistic undertones.


The ‘Highland Rape’ collection, suggests a new erogenous zone of the body; the fashion construct, “Bumsters” features a low cut garment that sat low on the human torsos and greatly elongated the back. Through skillful material manipulation, McQueen augments the body through aggressive silhouettes and exaggerated form. “With “Bumsters”, I wanted to elongate the body, not just to show the bum. To me that part of the body –not so much the buttocks, but the bottom of the spine, that’s the most erotic part of anyone’s body, man or woman”. McQueen (Savage Beauty, 43).

Figure. 40 MIyake bust series

Figure 41. Bumsters

Identity Ambivalence and Status Blummer’s Collective selection Theory Contrary to the historical associations of fashion to status, contemporary society presents a complex relationship of fashion to status and identity. Through identity ambivalence and status, we compare theories of identity and status in fashion that demonstrate the complex relationship of identity and fashion.

Contrary to the trickle down approach, Blummer’s theory (1969) suggests that fashion selection and cycles cannot be based entirely on class structure. While fashion can serve as a mechanism to affirm ones position within a social class, it is not the sole factor for garment selection.

Historical theories such as Veblen and Simmel’s trickle down (1899) rationalise fashion as a mechanism of communicating status. The trickle down theory, provides a reductionist approach that views fashion as a mechanism of communicating ones class within society. “he class structure of our society requires appropriation of symbolic vices by which social classes can distinguish themselves from each other. Clothing generally, and fashion, in particular lend themselves admirably to this purpose in that they afford a highly visible, yet economically strategic, means whereby those above can by the quality and fashionableness of their clothing signify their class superiority over those “below” “(Davis, 111).

“The fashion mechanism appears not in response to a need of class differentiation and class emulation but in response to a wish to be in fashion, to be abreast of what has good standing, to express new tastes which are emerging in a changing world” Blummer (Davis, 116)

The trickle down theory suggests that high fashion starts with the elite in society, and only later trickles down to the “lower” masses as “newer” trends and styles emerge. The trickle down theory suggests a stratified historical society, alien to contemporary society. Contemporary society has become less stratified in comparison to historical society, and the acquisition of fashion is not exclusively limited to the elite classes, nor used solely to communicate social class or status.


Blummer refers to the individual complexities of society through “collective selection”. “Collective selection” suggests that a person’s individual taste, or choice in fashion; are tastes that are heavily influenced by the collective taste of society. Bummer believes fashion is a generic process that touches various areas of social life, contrary to the scholarly domains it is usually confined to (Davis, 117). People’s affinity for certain fashions is based on their Individual tastes, which continue to refine themselves over time and through interaction with people. Bummer’s theory in essence suggests that taste, like identity, is not a stable entity, and continuously redefines itself.

Global Fashion & place Cultural production and identity Rethinking Retail Architecture The existence of high fashion couture flagship stores has been exclusive to global epicentres; the Ginza district in Tokyo, 5th Avenue in New York, and Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. Fashion epicentres throughout the decades have been classified by surface architecture; where the material identity manifests in a surface application. Rodeo Drive in particular, has been characteristic of surface architecture, with the majority of boutiques boasting exterior facades that lack three-dimensional depth, seldom translating into the interior. This phenomena was best characterised by Robert Venturi as “decorated shed”; which represents Architecture that separates the façade from the main structure of the building. This specific manifestation of surface Architecture has been likened to the cultural visual identity of the early 1990’s, an impact of digital media on society and cultural production. However, the 21st century witnessed significant changes in the design and manifestation of Architectural and visual identity. Retail Architecture saw the transformation of mere surface treatments to the realisation of complex structural form and surface detailing. This material shift in production can also be linked to the sophisticated tastes of high fashions patrons. As consumers tastes and product knowledge become more sophisticated; they demand an equal level of sophistication in their environments. Hence, the need to create stimulating material environments has become a necessity, in order to maintain the brand’s desire and identity.

Figure. 42 louis Vuitton

Global Fashion and Identity Louis Vuitton on branding Architecture While the most evocative examples of illusive identity have been explored in fashion; the global brand Louis Vuitton, demonstrates Architectures capacity to convey an elusive yet recognisable identity. The importance of establishing a distinct visual, Architectural, identity was revived in the 1990’s with the Louis Vuitton luxury brand. Louis Vuitton has been the most outstanding contemporary example of Architecture and branding identity of our era. As a luxury designer label, Louis Vuitton has successfully established a distinct Architectural branding identity worldwide, in stores such as Nagoya (1999), Seoul (200), Ginza’s Matsuya (2000), Namiki Dori (2004) as well as New York 5th Avenue (2000). The Louis Vuitton brand, synonymous with its prominence in luxury luggage, capitalises on the use of the brands traditional symbol to visualise the brands identity. As a result, the Louis Vuitton monogram, and the Damier check became the brands most identifiable symbols in the development of a material identity. As a brand, Vuitton maintains its original, recognisable print for its visual identity. In creating an Architectural identity, the Louis Vuitton brand worked closely with the Japanese Architect Jun Aoki; using the iconic monogrammed Damier luggage print, Aoki devises multiple material systems that not only demonstrate the brands identity, but create experiential effects within the high end retail spaces. “The Louis Vuitton trademark checkerboard of Damier pattern known vernacularly as Ichimatsu- is etched on both the outer and inner walls, and creates a beautiful moiré effect.

Figure. 42 louis Vuitton The geometric patterns seem to flutter and undulate as one walks around the building, an experience that can never be approximated by a still photograph” (Louis Vuitton, 12) The initial design for the Louis Vuitton store in Nagoya employed the Damier print on double panned glass facades “etched on both inner and outer walls” (Louis Vuitton, 12). However, in later designs for other Louis Vuitton stores such as the Louis Vuitton store in Roppongi hills (2003) the Architect employs a different technique with motif 10 cm circles, and outer wall of 30,000 glass tubes on the walls ceiling and partitions inside. (Louis Vuitton, 12). These permutations of the iconic Damier pattern strive to produce an image, recognisable to loyal Louis Vuitton patrons, yet creating a new experience.

Design The Alexander McQueen Beverly Hills flagship

Figure. 44 Tattered dress McQueen

Figure. 45 Rodeo Drive C. 1959 Beverly Hills remains a global fashion epicentre boasting the premier of fashion. The Beverly Hills area began developing as an affluent neighbourhood in the 1950s with the annexation of the Trousdale Estates, and its replacement with an exclusive housing development. The Golden Triangle, with Rodeo Drive at its center, was marketed as the exclusive home of shopping and fashion. The Via Rodeo, the first new street in Beverly Hills in seventy-six years, was completed in 1990 (City of Beverly Hills). As a place, Beverly Hills identity has become synonymous with luxury and premier fashion.

Beverly Hills & Rodeo Drive 71

Figure. 46 N. Rodeo Drive

Figure. 47 N. Rodeo Drive Lux Hotel

Site > N. Rodeo Drive

Alexander McQueen flagship store As best stated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s final tribute to Alexander McQueen; McQueen challenged and expanded the understanding the understanding of fashion beyond utility to a conceptual expression of culture, politics and identity. The Alexander McQueen flagship store redefines the flagship concept and the notion of identity in fashion. The flagship store goes beyond its utilitarian purpose of retailing merchandise, but rather, creates an elaborate narrative of the McQueen brand and identity. Through material systems that represent formal elements of the brand identity; the McQueen brand challenges the surface relationship between Architecture and fashion and draws parallels through the exploration of material techniques and assemblies that are relevant to both the disciplines of Architecture and fashion. The design concept of the McQueen flagship store draws from Alexander McQueen’s notion of identity that focused on the sublime. McQueen challenged the current identity of high fashion, by suggesting an unconventional understanding of beauty, one that was deeply rooted in the concept of the sublime. This was realised through the exploration of and the employment of contrasting formal techniques, in both the construction and representation of his garments.


“McQueen’s runway shows which suggest avantgarde installation and performance art provoked powerful, visceral emotions, through his runway presentations McQueen validated powerful emotions as compelling sources of aesthetic experience”.

(Savage Beauty, 35)

Placing the Subject in Architecture Fitting gallery The formal massing studies were primarily concerned with the relationship between users of N.Rodeo Drive and the store. Through formal strategies involving the concealment and exposure of the interior program the flagship store creates desire in the consumer. Likening the formal technique to that used in fashion through the concealment and revealing of the body, various programmatic zones are showcased and can be used as feature areas depending on the nature of the collection.

Program Disected The design of the flagship boutique is an assembly of complex program. The location does not merely merchandise the McQueen Label, but in addition serves as a permanent gallery for the larger Alexander McQueen collection and boasts a bespoke Atelier. Atelier Housed on the upper floor of the flagship boutique (Atelier provides in house bespoke tailoring for clients). The unique program of the flagship store presents new opportunities for the exploration of flexible program and the potential to curate the boutique dependant on season and collection. The boutique consists of various programmatic functions such as showrooms, galleries, private fitting rooms and an onsite Atelier.

The fitting gallery serves as the primary support space for Atelier fittings and private collection showings. Permanent gallery The second largest gallery in the store contains the permanent Alexander McQueen collection. The space is open to the public for design shows and private soirĂŠes. The permanent gallery interfaces with the lux hotel, creating a programmatic blend of retail and recreation. Seasonal gallery The seasonal gallery is the largest gallery space that houses the current runway selection for the season. The seasonal gallery, has consists of a smaller support gallery that can be used for truck shows, collection previews as well as an extension gallery to a larger existing collection. Display circulation Located in the main circulation pathways through the store, the primary display areas create an engaging experience as one navigates from one space to another.



N. Rodeo Drive

N. Rodeo Drive


SCALE 1000mm

Site location 370 North Rodeo Drive

Design concept The design of the Alexander McQueen flagship store explores the elusive nature of identity and the cyclic nature of the fashion mechanism. While fashion collections are more ephemeral in nature and follow a structured system of change, Architecture (flagship boutiques) present a more permanent manifestation of material culture. Through the use of contrasting formal strategies (with minimal aesthetics on the exterior and more complex and intricate on the interior), McQueen’s Romantic notion of identity; contrasting dialectical oppositions are generated. The McQueen flagship explores a different typology for retail architecture. The Flagship boutique presents a program that entails retail spaces, houses the designer’s permanent collection, and boasts an in house Atelier; all of which are important in presenting a unique identity, layered in meaning. Thus, the boutique presents multiple itineraries for experience


Program & massing The Alexander McQueen Beverly Hills flagship Figure. 48 McQueen accessories

fitting room Atelier

seasonal gallery displays seasonal gallery

Program Seasonal gallery Seasonal garment displays Central circulation system

Program massing

N Rodeo Drive

Permanent collection

Atelier fitting room Permanent collection

seasonal gallery

Program Accessories displays Seasonal featured garment showcase Main gallery takes presence Atelier at rear of store Permanent collection at rear

Program massing

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fitting room

Circulation core

Permanent collection

seasonal gallery N Rodeo Drive Circulation core

Seasonal gallery spaces Provide the primary surfaces for material assemblies to populate Display capsules are suspended structurally throughout the store Create visual connections between floors and thus activate multiple spaces simultaneously

Program massing

The formal massing studies were primarily concerned with the relationship between users of N.Rodeo Drive and the store. Through formal strategies involving the concealment and exposure of the interior program, the flagship store creates desire in the consumer. Likening the formal technique to that used in fashion through the concealment and revealing of the body various programmatic zones are showcased and can be used as feature areas depending on the nature of the collection.

Formal massing strategies The stores orientation to Rodeo drive is of paramount importance. The store facade engages the viewer at street level. In addition, the slits in the facade reveal the interior to passers by.

Formal & Program massing

Final program and massing studies show the general massing of the building and formal strategies used to engage pedestrian users of Rodeo drive. The exterior shows the folding strategy used to open spaces to the drive. Through the process of folding, reveals in the faรงade of the store are suggested.

Formal & Program massing

Interior Material systems

Display & Circulation

The display systems within McQueen flagship store present an exceptional opportunity for the manifestation of the ambivalences of sexuality. The display systems explore fashions technique of revealing and concealing the body to demonstrate identity tensions that exist in our culture.

The display systems and circulation towers are inspired by a selection of some of Alexander McQueen’s excessive pieces such as the Spinal corset and his metal spiral accessory both from the ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’ collection. The pieces feature skeletal aesthetics, known to support the body are used to enclose the body in a somewhat claustrophobic manner.

Through formal techniques that reflect McQueen’s material aesthetic, the display systems that define the interior terrain of the McQueen flagship create an excessive and highly detailed Architecture. In addition, the flagships interior aesthetic, starkly contradicts the exterior aesthetic to amplify the multiplicity of identity, and the potential for Architecture to create strong dialectical oppositions.


The circulation towers serve multiple purposes of both displaying merchandise and transporting patrons from one destination to another. The circulation routes are located at the front and the rear of the store providing alternate access to the stores public areas and gallery spaces and creating multiple itineraries for experience.

Figure. 49 spinal corset and spiral accessory. Cabinet of curiosities

material technique studies display occulus

display occulus fitting gallery

permanent gallery Atelier

seasonal gallery foyer structural and program studies






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Program distribution

contour of structural system showing profles of steel frame and skin eggcrate structure

front facade

west wing

detail east wing

secondary egg crate system

red run perpendicular to length of building

Grey run parallel to length of building

Eggcrate contouring

Building skin DuPonts Corian Cladding System

Building stuctural detail

Egg crate conncetion detail

corian thermoformed


corian thermoformed

perpendicular structural steel beam

1/8 “ silicone sealant

size varies

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corian thermoformed

1/8 “ silicone sealant

Profile of eggcrate secondary structure

detail of eggcrate and building skin

corian thermoformed skin

Diagram of wall composistion and assembly


steel sleeves The sleeve detail demonstrates the seamless assembly of the secondary steel structure. The complex structural parts are broken down in to fewer, less complex parts that are easily assembled using a steel sleeve mechanism and bolts.

Circulation core section The diagram shows a sectional detail through the front store staircase showing the tubular steel secondary structure of the assemblage.

Detail of sleeve system


detail material system

Stair detail 1.1

Diagrammatic render showing the bottom detail of the staircase and connections to the steps.

stairs spine detail

Plan of circulation cores Plan diagram of the main circulation core system. The plan diagram demonstrates the connection points of the stairs structure to the glass stair plates. As well as how the stair plate bearing connection points attach to the glass stair plates. circulation detal showing stair connections and assembly stair connecetion to secondary structural frame

stair bearing bases outline of stair glass plates

connection points where stair plates connect to stair bearing base

primary support to main structure through tentacles

Section showing display occulus

view of rear circulation core

Permanent gallery

Seasonal gallery

View from Atelier

Figure. 50 Duck feather dress

Conclusion As individuals, we cannot contest the power of fashion and architecture as mechanisms of communication. Both disciplines communicate social and cultural identities at vastly different scales. This thesis focused on the practise of architecture allowing itself to be informed by other disciplines. As designers we have to ask ourselves, is all material culture subject to fashion? Is it beneficial to borrow strategies from other disciplines, and at what point do parallels across disciplines cease to provide new avenues of exploration?

Architecture and fashion do communicate, as influential mechanisms of our material culture. Through multiple strategies, architecture and fashion express individual and collective identities through multiple mediums of expression. The multiplicities of expression demonstrate the complexities of identity; Identity is not a fixed, singular construct, but rather a complex, multifaceted concept.

As architects we should seek a genuine multidisciplinary approach that does not merely stop at concept; but rather a more integrated approach to design that takes into consideration technique, theory and multiple approaches from external disciplines. Only through such design exploration can new trajectories of experimental Architecture be established that will have profound influence on our experiences within our material environments.


Design Show Art Central, Calgary

works cited Davis, Fred, Fashion, Culture, and Identity. University of Chisago Press. 1992. Print. Sunnaifa Hope, Aware , Art Fashion, Identity. Royal Academy of Arts London. Damiani editore publication. 2010. Print. Eicher, Joanne, Evenson Sandra The Visible self, Global Perspectives on Dress, Culture and Society. 2nd ed. 2008. Print. Stainland Kay, In Royal Fahsion. Museum of London. The Clothes of Princess Charlotte of Wales and Queen Victoria 1796- 1901. 1st ed. Soneck Publication. 1997. Print. Bahamon Alejandro, Canazares Ana. Corporate Architecture. Fashion, Banking, Telecommunications. Architectura Corporative. 2009. Print. Spuybroek Lars. The Architecture of Continuity, Essays and Conversations. Rotterdam 1st ed. 2008. Print. Deluze Gilles, Guattari Felix. A Thousand plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 1st ed. Minnesota Press. 1987. Print. Arnold Dana, Sofar Joanna. Biographies and Space: Placing the Subject in Art and Architecture. 1sted. Routledge Oxon. 2008. Print. Heinich Nadin, Eidner Franziska. Sensing Spaces, Future Architecture by Technology. Berlin: 2009. Print. Castets Simon, Gasparina Jill. Louis Vuitton: Art, Fashion and Architecture. Rizzoli 1st ed. 2009. Print. Koda, Extreme Beauty the Body Transformed, Metroplolitan Museum of Art. 2001. Print. Burton Sarah, Savage Beauty; Alexander McQueen. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2011. Print.

Hodge, Skin + Bones. Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture. Thames and Hudson. 2000. Print. Tschumi Bernard. Event cities 3, concept vs. context vs. content. 1st ed. MIT press. 2004. Print. Van Schaik Leon, Spatial Intelligence, New Futures for Architecture. 1st ed. Great Brittain. Wiley & sons. 2008 Print. Hensel Micheal, Menges Achim. Morpho-ecologies. 1st ed. 2006. Architectural Association publication. 2006. Print. Blunt, Anthony. Baroque and Roccoco Architcture and Decoration. 1st ed. 1978. Granada Publishing . 1978. Print.

images cited

Burton Sarah, Savage Beauty; Alexander McQueen. Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2011 Print. Figure 1. Red dress of feathers Figure 2. Spiral corset cabinet of curiosities Figure 3. Red Cape Figure 11. Dress Romantic exoticism collection Figure 12. Romantic Gothic McQueen Black duck Feather dress figure 13. Black leather dress Figure 14. Black dress Romantic mind Figure 15. Romantic Nationalism McQueen’s tartan Figure 16. Romantic Exoticism. Oriental floral dress Figure 17. Romantic Primitivism. Black eshu coat Figure 18. McQueen accessories Figure 23. Romantic Naturalism Collection Figdrure 25. White tulle dress Figure 26. Red cape Figure 27. Spinal corset Alexander McQueen Figure 28. Oyster Dress Alexander McQueen Figure 32. McQueen Accessories Figure 33. Romantic Exoticism Figure 34. Eighteenth century reminiscent gown McQueen Figure 35. McQueen, Dante ‘Turned up collar’ figure 36. McQueen, puffed shoulder Jacket Figure. 38 & 39 Sarabande Figure 41. Bumsters Figure. 44 Tattered dress McQueen Figure. 48 McQueen accessories Figure. 49 spinal corset and spiral accessory. Cabinet of curiosities Figure. 50 Duck feather dress

Stainland Kay, In Royal Fahsion. Museum of London. The Clothes of Princess Charlotte of Wales and Queen Victoria 1796- 1901. 1st ed. Soneck Publication. 1997. Print. Figure 10. Gown of Sophia Magdalena Authors Own Figure 4. Detail Hallway of Mirrors Versailles Figure 5. Window detail Versailles Figure 6. Interior detail Versailles Figure 7. Exterior court Versailles Figure 8. Interior detail Antoinette room Figure 9. Chapel Figure 24. free hand drawings Figure 29. 8379 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles Koda, Extreme Beauty the Body Transformed, Metroplolitan Museum of Art. 2001. Print. Figure 19. Miyake pleat detail dress Figure 20. Hussein Chalayan. Spring summer 1997 Figure 22. Hussein Chalayan Figure. 40 MIyake bust series Iris Van Herpen. Date Accessed. November 15th, 2011.Online Figure 21. Iris Van Herpen ‘smoke and mirrors’ Pentagram Architects Date Accessed. November 15th, 2011.Online Figure 30. Interior of McQueen Melrose boutique Figure 31. Interior plan of boutique

Castets Simon, Gasparina Jill. Louis Vuitton: Art, Fashion and Architecture. Rizzoli 1st ed. 2009. Print. Figure. 42 louis Vuitton Figure. 42 louis Vuitton City Of Beverly Hills Date Acessed. November 12th. 2011. Online Figure. 45 Rodeo Drive C. 1959 Figure. 46 N. Rodeo Drive Figure. 47 N. Rodeo Drive Lux Hotel


fashion, art