In the early 1980s, deconstructivism first emerged as an international movement in architecture. Famous representatives such as: Zaha Hadid, Frank O. Gehry, Daniel Liebeskind, Peter Eisenmann, Günter Behnisch, Bernard Tschumi, Viennese group Coop Himmelblau created remarkable architecture that stands in contrast to the traditional one. By haute couture and designer fashion there is also an analogy deconstructivism in fashion. Conventional regularity, symmetry and fixed order are largely unknown. Fashion designers take no account of everyday life or mass production. The clothes become purposeless, but the functional attachment to the body is not lacking.
Deconstructivism in fashion – history and development
Deconstructivism in fashion is characterized, as in architecture, by a playful approach to the constructive elements. What are foundations, doors, stairs and roofs for a building are the cut, the seams, hems and closures of the clothing. Traditional orders and proportions are called into question. Any conventions are rejected and new aesthetic criteria set. Deconstructivism follows the logic of complexity, contradiction and paradox. Fashion is understood as an art that communicates ideas, concepts and emotions, but does not lose its most basic function.
How did the deconstructivism in fashion come about: Drapage
The emergence of deconstructivism in fashion was not due to the flow in architecture, but to the oldest form of dressing the body – the Drapage. By folding, twisting, cutting and plugging the fabric is manipulated and finally creates a three-dimensional shape. Madeleine Vionnet and Alix Grès were among the first designers to design in this way. Her dresses of flowing fabrics played around the female figure and allowed a lot of freedom of movement. As a source of inspiration mostly elements of antique clothing were used. By diagonal and unconventional seam solutions, knots, twists created clothes that strive for timeless elegance. The first collection of dresses was created in 1906 for the fashion house “Doucet”.
Deconstructivism in Fashion by Haute Couture – Balenciaga
Later, Balenciaga designed his collections using a similar approach, but this time with stronger materials. For him, the silhouettes are architecturally and space-consuming. They frame the body like a sculpture and are immediately recognizable as “Balenciaga” due to the balanced proportions and detailed solutions. The creative freedom in the development and realization of the models belongs to haute couture, which later became established as ready-to-wear fashion. All creations are made to order and Drapage has been chosen as the perfect method to search for individual silhouettes.
Deconstructivism in Japanese fashion – Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto
In the mid ’80s more and more designers became interested in this technique and often used it to develop their new collections. Shifting proportions and deliberate asymmetry stirred up the fashion world. Designers were looking for unconventional but meaningful forms and silhouettes that convey a specific leitmotif. A new fashion direction emerged – the deconstructivism. Biggest influence was exercised by the Japanese fashion designers , who transferred the tradition of the Japanese costume in a modern dress.
Unlike Western clothing, which is focused on the body, the Japanese attaches great importance to movement and freedom. Issey Miyake bravely experiments with new fabrics, extreme volumes, and the dimensions of the body are constantly changing. In his collections, pleats that give clothes and skirts a sculptural form can often be seen. You can already notice the designer’s preference for theater and ballet costumes.
Among the most influential representatives of deconstructivism were the Japanese fashion designers Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, who incorporated modern-day Japanese culture and philosophical foundations into fashion. The models of Yamamoto are characterized by sensuality and comfort and are mainly designed in two colors – black and white, thereby conveying inner peace. The designer designs these from rigid fabrics that show that fashion is not just beautiful surfaces.
For the fashion designers, representatives of deconstructivism, the critical examination of the aesthetic habits of fashion and society is fundamental. The silhouettes have an experimental character and seem unfinished, composed and simply deconstructed. The clothing is being reinvented and has a sobering effect, which the Japanese fashion designers are transferring to England, France and America.
In the 1990s, three other fashion designers in Paris tackled deconstructivism: Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela and Hussein Chalayan. Their models no longer serve as a beautiful presentation of the body ideal, but as a shell. The design language is strongly influenced by the material and the innovative power of textile design is in the foreground.
Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester creates silhouettes that look casual, random and unfinished. It relies on strong contrasts, especially in black and white, which are achieved through the materiality of the fabrics. The revealed body belongs to one of the important design elements of the fashion designer.
Maison Martin Margiela
Originally from Belgium, Martin Margiela takes apart the garment and puts together a new one. With him, deconstructionism works almost as a method of making fashion. Trousers become skirts, gloves tops and the seams point outward. Margiela makes visible what is usually hidden in fashion. The unusual composite parts create a new aesthetic and the clothes get a special meaning. Very interesting for the personality Maison Margiela is that he was never seen or photographed. He never appeared on the catwalk himself and wanted to focus not on the person of the designer, but on his work.
Hussein Chalayan is known for his exceptional work in designing his collections. His clothes can often be transformed and look like objects that are worn on the body. He is not creative enough with conventional materials and regulations. The basis for his collections are concepts that are implemented through the clothing and made public. An important tool for his models is the Drapage and a source of inspiration – the ancient robes.
In their current collections, contemporary designers such as Alexander McQeen, Haider Ackermann, Matthew Ames, Helmut Land, Jil Sander and others interpret the subject of deconstructivism in fashion. They unleash the clothes of their useful function and convey the idea of fashion as an art whose stage is the catwalk.
Deconstructivism in fashion today