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?
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s another interesting piece of jewelry designed for the Danish brand Georg Jensen. The sterling silver cuff is inspired by her building designs.
And lastly, the silk scarf designed in 2014 for the opening of Innovation Tower, one of Zaha’s projects in Hong Kong.
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.
Shilpa Ahuja a designer and entrepreneur. She is the editor-in-chief of ShilpaAhuja.com, which she founded with the goal of inspiring confidence in the modern working woman through fashion.
Fashion has traditionally been for the rich, white, thin woman. That’s how it evolved over centuries and that’s how it’s been represented in fashion media. But Shilpa believes that with the changing role of women in the society, fashion has changed, too. She believes that fashion is for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, color, body type and background. So she translates runway fashion into easy style advice that one can incorporate into their daily lives.
Shilpa’s work has been published in the University of Fashion blog and Jet Airways magazine. She is also an artist, illustrator and cartoonist. She is also the creator of Audrey O., a comic series that represents the lifestyle of millennial women. She enjoys creative writing and world travel. Her art has been exhibited at Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh and been published in Chandigarh Times.
Originally from Chandigarh, Shilpa also has a professional degree in architecture and has worked in interior project management. She is also the author of the book “Designing a Chinese Cultural Center in India”. Shilpa has a Masters in Design Studies degree from Harvard University. For feedback and questions, please email [email protected]