Architecture and fashion are often seen as two opposing fields. One is practical, a way to keep rain off of people’s heads. It’s all math and physics— respected, valued and useful.
On the other side of public favor sits fashion. It’s seen as a frivolous and expensive hobby rather than anything of particular importance, simply a by-product of the illegality of nakedness. It struggles to fit in to both the art world and utilitarianism, leaving it in a sort of Twilight Zone of recognition.
Though many still hold these views of either discipline, fashion and architecture often have characteristics in common. The same principles of design hold true, even down to the importance of structure and materials. They are both ways to make something necessary comfortable and beautiful, just on different scales.
In a new exhibit at the Louisiana Old State Capitol, graduates and faculty from the University’s school of textiles, apparel design and merchandising explored the link between fashion and architecture to create a collection of 10 clothing designs inspired by the history and structure of the building itself.
Participants were given a fairly open assignment— fashion something relating to the Capitol. With such a wide range, it’s not surprising that the collection was so varied.
“We got a really good mix,” said Casey Stannard, an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and a driving force behind the exhibit. “We have everything from more costume-like pieces to wearable art.”
The creators focused on parts of the building, big and small. The most popular source of inspiration was the famous stained glass windows, but some really focused on the details.
Each contributor took inspiration from something different about the Capitol, but each also brought unique skills to the creation of each piece. Along with TAM alumni and local fashion designers, costume designers from the University’s theater department and sculptors from the school of art were asked to participate.
When it comes to the link between the two disciplines, Stannard said, it wasn’t difficult to find, especially in such a unique building.
“Fashion and architecture are always a really natural combination,” she said. “The two have always played off of each other.”
The Old State Capitol was built in 1847, but borrows its Gothic exterior from the churches and cathedrals of pre-renaissance France. The interior, however, is a snapshot of what was fashionable in the 1840s, a Victorian display of opulence and warmth.
“There’s so many different eras you can pull from for inspiration,” Stannard said. “It was really a smorgasbord of opportunities.”
“Architecturally Inspired: Fashions Celebrating the Old State Capitol” is currently on display at the Old State Capitol, and will remain open until Sept. 6. Admission to the exhibit is free.