Zaha Hadid fashion designerApril 9, 2016
The news that the architect Zaha Hadid died last week at the relatively young age of 65 provoked a lot of shock and many tributes. Somehow, it seems impossible because the designer was so majestic and in control, you’d think she wouldn’t allow a little thing like death happen to her right now: too many things to do.
One of these things was rumoured to be Zaha Hadid fashion designer. Of course, Hadid, who was the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, was twice winner of the prestigious RIBA architectural prize and helmed a British based architectural company that employed 400 people and produced some of the world’s most innovative buildings, had always cut a splendid figure at Fashion Week, often to be seen on the front row in her sculptural outfits.
Sense of style
She has been described as “a diva”; “operatic”; “very dramatic”; (although working under a diva is no fun, as one of the junior in her practice let me know – she used a different word to describe Hadid’s demanding personality and it wasn’t complimentary) but anyway, her sense of style reflected her presence. She favoured pieces from Issey Miyake’s Pleats Please collection, but she also rocked Chanel, Comme des Garçons and Prada in her signature all-black ensembles, and Valentino in scarlet of course.
Thomas Tait and Zaha Hadid
Thomas Tait, an up and coming designer whose work she both wore and exhibited in her East End design gallery speaks of her with a kind of hero worship: “Zaha was a visionary with a talent that to this day continues to baffle me. I have always felt both lucky and extremely proud to count Zaha not only as a loyal client, but also as a friend. I cherish the time I have spent with Zaha, especially the moments we spent in her bedroom trying on my collections and discussing the wonders and the challenges of our respective businesses,” he told WWD. “Zaha has always been an inspiration to me. The curvilinear lines in her work continue to influence my approach to pattern-cutting and creating silhouettes.”
Zaha Hadid fashions a controversy
Almost all of Zaha Hadid’s architectural visions seem like they can only have existed with the aid of computer aided design – I’m tempted to call them futuristic but they’re not, they’re very NOW. With the exception of the first work of hers to be realised, the jagged fire station building in Weil am Rhein, Germany, they are certainly curvilinear and possess certain “impossible” floating roofs, and what for want of a better term I can only call a random yet dynamic billowing quality that seems to have come straight from a CAD screen.
While I bristled when author Kathy Lette tweeted as a tribute that Hadid’s “beautiful, undulating feminine designs proved that u didn’t need a phallic edifice complex 2 be a brilliant architect” because I don’t think of the designs as necessarily feminine, just because they’re not phallic, one design certainly was very “feminine” indeed – her Quatar 2022 world cup sports stadium, otherwise known as “The Vagina”. Hadid fiercely claimed not to see it, “What are they saying? Anything with a hole in it is a vagina? That’s ridiculous.” she snorted. No, but look at it Zaha…
Zaha Hadid fashion – a melted man-eating lily
She also designed the Serpentine Sackler restaurant. Beautiful inside with the supporting pillars cloaked in fibreglass so they extend gracefully towards the ceiling, giving you the feeling that you might have been gently ingested by a very large lily, the outside is odd because its rippling roof, dipping towards these pillars bears a resemblance to a square Frank Lloyd Wright building that got melted in a giant bonfire. The roof drips right down over the curved plate glass windows at the front.
The whole thing might have survived as a pavilion in its own right, were it not incongruously bolted on to the elegantly colonnaded 17th century Palladian style gun store which forms the Serpentine Sackler gallery itself. Also, it should be noted that a pot of tea and a piece of cake will set you back approximately fifty pounds here. Though of course it’s served in gracefully curving porcelain.
Her designs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic stadium attracted controversy in 2013 and were altered after the proposed structure was accused of being too big for the surrounding space, with a 500 person protest from people demading a more environmentally friendly design – her budget was also almost halved by Japanese finance ministers.
Zaha Hadid fashion – numerous successes
Luckily, Hadid has a whole list of building which are still curvy, but less contentious. These include the the BMW factory in Leipzig, the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, the London Olympic aquatic centre for the 2012 Olympic Games, the media centre at Lord’s cricket ground, the Maxxi: Italian National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome, the Heydar Aliyev centre in Baku, the Rosenthal Centre of Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, the Guangzhou opera house in China, the Dubai Opera House, a 90-meter ski jump in Innsbruck, Austria and 1,400 acres of industrial space in Istanbul.
Linking her to fashion was an architectural project where she designed a “pod” as a travelling exhibition and event space for Chanel. The 700 square metre structure travelled to Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York, and designer Karl Lagerfield was said to be ecstatic with it. Hadid also proved her fashion links when she designed the layout of the (awful imo) “Women, Fashion Power” exhibition at the Design Museum in 2014, in which she also featured.
Zaha Hadid fashion – bums
Zaha Hadid was not only involved in building projects but in much more human scale objects. She designed furniture – a chair she designed for the Italian furniture company Sawaya & Moroni is described as looking like ”an enormous derriere”, as well as other designs that looked like a crumpled and folded vinyl disc, and other more abstract scoops and zig zags. She also designed a range of tableware and ceramic scented candle holders, which Oliver Wainwright writing for the Guardian memorably thought “recalls the entwined tendrils of art nouveau styling, with a slightly sinister sci-fi air – Victor Horta meets HR Giger on a dark night.”
Zaha Hadid fashion – designer handbags
There was also the creation of some very talked about shoes and handbags for big fashion houses. Remember I said her designs couldn’t have existed without CAD? Well, her 2006 re-interpretation of the iconic bucket bag for Louis Vuitton illustrates this nicely – not only does the ergonomically shaped vinyl arm candy look computer designed but also 3D printed, with the instantly recognisable logo forming holes on one side and warped and extruded on the other, like the machine’s settings were all wrong. And yet, it is a graceful and desirable object, in white with a lipstick pink, purple, orange or scarlet interior.
Hadid also made a handbag for Fendi, again a re-interpretation of a classic, their Peekaboo design. She made this in a more traditional leather, this time exaggerating the bag’s main feature, its outside pocket into a mille feuille of layered sleeves.
Zaha Hadid fashion – dramatic shoes
But Hadid did not just work with extravagently expensive handbags. In 2015 she teamed up with music star Pharrell to make a trainer for Adidas. Her contribution to the Superstar Pharrell Supershell Shoes was a shell toe on one of the sneakers which looked like it had been neatly carved into with a scalpel.
Much more dramatic were the shoes she created with United Nude, a brand known for unconventional footwear materials and striking experimentation with the balance point of the foot and human body, creating futuristic looking injection moulded platform shoes that appear to hover without a heel – very much up Hadid’s street as you can imagine.
As well as 2013’s swooping pearlescent plastic “Melissa” design, more striking still was the “Nova” from the same year, which looked like a stack of outsize shiny bangles had slid around the foot somehow. Made of metallic chromed vinyl rubber, when not being worn the shoes don’t look like a shoe at all.
Talking of shiny, Hadid didn’t shy away from jewellery either. Another close fit for her design style for different reasons is the venerable Danish brand Georg Jenson. Their classic work, notably in silverware is about solid, elegant curves. The jewellery that Hadid had just finished designing for them, due to be released in autumn 2016, is an un-classic precise interleaving of planes.
A previous jewellery collection for the Caspita brand was an airy yet intricate bubbling of hexagons formed into rings and a collection for Swarovski had a much more solid feel.
The closest Zaha Hadid has come so far to designing actual garments is the daring swimwear she devised in 2013 for Viviona, a series of slashed and holey black swimming costumes. Far from being grungy, these holes were precision placed.
But with all these collaborations and experimentations, who’s to say that further fashion partnerships, this time featuring skirts, tops, trousers and dresses wasn’t on the cards? After all, as she told WWD last year: “There exists much more fluidity now between art, fashion and architecture.”
RIP Zaha Hadid. I can’t help thinking your most exciting work could have been yet to come.
Zaha Hadid wearing Issey Miyake.
Zaha Hadid in Valentino.
Zaha Hadid in a feather cape. photo by Scott Rudd.
Interior of the Serpentine Sacler restaurant.
Exterior of the Serpentine Sacler.
The Heydar Aliyev cultural centre in Baku, Azerbaijan. Photograph- View Pictures:Rex
The Chanel Pavilion at night. Photo by John Linden.
Said to be inspired by a Manta Ray. Image courtesy of Sawaya & Moroni.
The Zaha Hadid for Louis Vuitton bag.
The Fendi Hadid Peekaboo. Photo courtesy Fendi.
Superstar Pharrell Supershell Shoes designed by Zaha Hadid.
Zaha Hadid Melissa design.
Zaha Hadid Nova design.
Zaha Hadid for Georg Jenson.
Zaha Hadid for Caspita
Zaha Hadid’s jewellery for Atelier Swarovski.
Zaha Hadid for Viviona