Zaha Hadid’s Fashion & Architecture Legacy

Star-architect Zaha Hadid will be remembered not just for buildings, but for fashion, too. Discover her top fashion designs, including those for Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

It’s been two days since the demise of Dame Zaha Hadid and the architecture community is still in shock. Known for her post-modern, curvilinear buildings, often deemed “unbuildable” by construction companies, the Iraqi-born British architect was often a part of controversies – over her professional work, her being a female in a male-dominated profession, her personal style and even her looks! You could hate her, you could love her, but you could not ignore her.

I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I call her Zaha – as a lot of architects call starchitects by their first, last or even pet names as though they were friends. She founded a 400-person firm and was the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, the highest honor for architects. Some of my classmates from Harvard Design School (where Zaha was also a faculty in the 80s) had worked for her firm. The first thing I always asked them was, “So what’s she really like in person? She looks intimidating!” Don’t women often subconsciously want to, to be taken seriously in a man’s world?

Image Credit: WWD

I first saw Zaha’s work in person in Spain on an educational trip from my grad school. The most common critique she received was around the practice of building expensive structures that were impractical and ended up using ten times as much steel as “simpler” designs would have. The Spectator UK even published an article in 2015 titled, “Architecture would be better off without Zaha Hadid“. And with those preconceived notions, I went there, hoping to hate her work. But I loved it the moment I saw it. A curvy building – like a perfect seamless sheet that made up not just the exterior façade but also the furniture inside it. Pristine. Uninterrupted. And that experience is what any designer wants, as Zaha once said in an interview with Vogue, “Whether people really enjoy and have a special experience being in a space would be the ultimate vindication.”

R. López de Heredia, a winery store in Rioja, Spain (left) and its designer Zaha Hadid (right)

It’s not often an architect makes international headlines. But she did, because Zaha’s non-architectural work is as popular as her buildings. From designing fashion spaces for Chanel and Stuart Weitzman to Adidas shoes, Louis Vuitton bags and Swarovski jewelry, this Dame did it all! My favorite is the futuristic bucket bag designed by her for Louis Vuitton:

Bucket bag designed by Zaha Hadid for Louis Vuitton

And here’s the ‘Nova’ shoe, made in collaboration with United Nude, which called for a bold sculptural forms. The shoe has a hidden 6-inch heel that’s cantilevered, completely unsupported. So, not for daily use, I guess. Very Lady Gaga.

Nova shoe designed by Zaha Hadid for United Nude

The second shoe I love is called Flames, yet another one made for United Nude. The sculptural shoe is made solely using 3D-printer. I love the idea of creating wearable art, not necessarily wearable, but definitely innovative.

Flames shoes designed by Zaha Hadid for United Nude

And while we’re at shoes, here are Zaha Hadid-designed Adidas sneakers and the curvy Melissa shoes, done in collaboration with Brazilian shoe brand, Melissa.

Black and white sneakers designed by Zaha Hadid for Adidas
Melissa shoes done in collaboration with Brazilian shoe brand, Melissa
Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid (left) and Zaha Hadid with Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel (right)

And of course, the famous Chanel mobile art pavilion, Zaha’s collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld. The pavilion traveled to Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York and Paris and had a larger-than-life sized Chanel bag sculpture – or bench!

The pavilion was designed to celebrate Chanel’s iconic work and cultural influence.

Interiors of Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid; Image Source: ArchDaily

Here’s another fashion space designed by her – a shoe boutique for Stuart Weitzman in Milan, designed with free flowing forms that extend in metallics shades for the shoe display racks.

Shoe boutique for Stuart Weitzman in Milan

Zaha Hadid also designed shoes for Lacoste. The shoes are ergonomically shaped to adapt to the natural shape of the leg, inspired by the company’s logo, but aren’t really my type.

Ergonomic shoes designed by Zaha Hadid for Lacoste

One of my favorite works is the jewelry she designed. Zaha Hadid designed cuffs and necklaces for Swarovski for a line called Glace, inspired by the Birds of Paradise flowers.

Glace Collection by Zaha Hadid in collaboration with Swarovski

And even more so, I find these rings and cuffs fascinating. The three on the left, a ‘Silene’ cuff and ‘Silene’ rings, in gold and rose-gold explore the organic forms and their geometries. The ring on the right is the multi-fasceted ‘Skein’ ring, designed in collaboration with Swiss goldsmiths Caspita.

Silene cuff and rings (left) and Skein ring (right)

Here’s another interesting piece of jewelry designed for the Danish brand Georg Jensen. The sterling silver cuff is inspired by her building designs.

Silver cuff designed for the Danish brand Georg Jensen; Image Credit: NYTimes

And lastly, the silk scarf designed in 2014 for the opening of Innovation Tower, one of Zaha’s projects in Hong Kong.

Silk scarf – Innovation Tower

So, hope some of those cross-disciplinary ideas between architecture and fashion were inspiring. Which one of Zaha Hadid’s fashion designs did you love the most? Comment below. Feel free to give negative feedback if you must, because she’s used to it.

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