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Wearable Maps Turn Architecture Into Elegant Couture

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Today's high fashion may seem more disconnected than ever from local trends, but an architect is giving "geographically bounded" a whole new meaning in the sartorial realm. With Cityzen by Azin, the first clothing line from I-Beam Design co-founder Azin Valy, city maps serve as the inspiration for dresses, scarves, and bags, but this means more than just printing an urban terrain onto fabric and calling it a day. The coolest thing about the line is how a city's topographical features and feats of engineering feed into the design of a garment, allowing for, say, a Bangkok evening dress (below) where the Chao Phraya river doubles as a strap.

The globe-trotting collection grew out of research Valy did for an exhibition on urban planning for the Museum of Modern Art. While not all of her designs are created equal—see the Tokyo and L.A.pieces for a triumphant high and a crushing low, respectively—they have garnered a bit of a high-profile wear. Iranian-American writer Hooman Majd has been spotted with the Tehran bag, Ariana Huffington is a champion of the Rome scarf, and the Chicago dress (below) was presented to none other than First Lady Michelle Obama.

Valy currently pairs each piece with a hand-picked local charity, and plans to eventually donate a cut of the profits in that direction once the business matures. She also has her sights trained on clothing lines for men and children, as well as more affordable pieces for women, covering more cities. Think a Pittsburgh evening gown would really up your dinner party game? How about a Charleston sundress for that horse race? Suggest a locale here.

Spencer Peterson

· A Fashion Line Inspired by, of All Things, Urban Planning [Atlantic Cities]