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From Rem to Zaha, Ogle Famous Architects' Sartorial Savvy

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Recently, it's been claimed that "most architects don't have a clue about fashion," and that, in light of her line of swimwear for Viviona, Zaha Hadid's close friends should "be dissuading her against any activities on the catwalk." And sure, the results are often... interesting when architects take up fashion design, but that doesn't mean there isn't a keen amount of sartorial awareness, or at least determination, on their part. Below, explore the assiduously curated aesthetics of big-name architects that smash the stereotype of the draftsman in all black.



↑ Spaceship-building swoopitect Zaha Hadid's sinuous, sci-fi sensibility finds almost as much application in her sartorial choices as it does in her designs; there's probably no other living architect that can so often be found essentially wearing one of their buildings. Once declared by the Guardian as one of the world's 50 best-dressed over-50s, Hadid is pictured above wearing an extravagantly shaped piece by Elke Walter, a fashion designer whose work she often sports to openings. Her wardrobe—for which she is rumored to have commissioned a custom-made app to help her to coordinate—is crammed with similar pieces by Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, and she once told the Independent that wearing such draperies "upside down or inside out means that I can double the use, and I don't have to think about what to wear, I just squash it into a suitcase. They're very modern pieces and they don't need the sort of care that antiquities do."


↑ British architect Mike Davies, who designed London's Millenium Dome and Heathrow Terminal 5, is perhaps better known for dressing only in bright red, a color scheme that is said to apply to his shoes, belts, watches, cellphone holsters, the elastic band he uses to tie his ponytail, the pens he writes with, the Jaguar he drives (and its custom leather interior), and even his telescope collection. Once, after visiting the HQ he designed for Lloyds of London—which the insurance trader is looking to leave soon—he remarked that "I must have cost them 20 or 30 grand every time I came through the office, because they all stopped trading to look at me! In fact, I was in the same outfit as they were... the only difference was 4,000 angstroms in the colour spectrum." Apparently Davies preferred purple as a young man, but made the switch while working on the Pompidou Centre of Paris in the '70s, when he found that dressing head-to-toe in the preferred color of the Parisian gay community invited a bit too much attention when taking the Metro. "It's simple," he's said of his commitment to staying monochrome. "The complications of dress code, of matching everything in the morning, disappear completely." If he were to switch things up, he might go with yellow, but believes that "if I changed now, it would break me financially."


↑ Many architects have chosen 24-7 suit-wearing as their trademark, but no one took the practice as seriously as legendary modernist Le Corbusier, whose iconic look once inspired a Corneliani clothing line. Naturally, the Corb dress code applied to chilling with Albert Enstein (above, left), posing for Man Ray (right), and leading tours of his home studio.


New York magazine aptly summarized the style of retail designer extraordinaire and consummate leather daddy Peter Marino as "a cross between a Hells Angel and Karl Lagerfeld," but the architect didn't always outfit himself like a Village Person. In fact, jeans and a T-shirt used to be his forte (when he dressed "like a total pig") until he switched to "well-cut" Italian suits for his years working with Armani, after which a life-altering conversation with a doctor set the 63-year-old Marino in his "live to ride and ride to live" ways. Word has it he even stays in costume, codpiece and all, while he's at his home in Southhampton, N.Y. As of late 2012, most of his leather was custom-made by "a tailor named Felix," and according to the New York Post, when he attended an Architectural Digest party after getting inducted into the AD100, he "raised more eyebrows than the provocative Maurizio Cattelan works on display, which included a sculpture of the pope hit by an asteroid."


Richard Meier's committed all-white minimalism and his espousal of the black suit and tie have led to rumors that he requires his employees to come to work in crisp white dress shirts paired only with black pants and skirts. The Wall Street Journal seemed to debunk these myths with a piece showcasing the work outfits of three Meier & Partners employees, but for all we know, they just happened to come in on a Waitstaff Attire Not Required Friday.


↑ According to W Magazine, Japanese architect and 2010 Pritzker winner Kazuyo Sejima—whose design for the New Museum has been known to inspire fashion statements of its own—has as a mainstay of her wardrobe an "extensive collection of Comme des Garçons pieces" that "features a combination of intelligence, detailing, and understatement."


↑ "Be not afraid of being called un-fashionable," wrote Austrian and Czech architect and early modernist thinker Adolf Loos, which was easy for him to say, given that his large collection of Savile Row suits probably spared him that particular fate. Though he penned many essays on the political ramifications of architectural style, he also authored one entitled "Why A Man Should Be Well-Dressed," and has been called "something of a frustrated tailor at heart."


↑ Ever-quotable OMA principal Rem Koolhaas has paired his more than decade-long collaboration with Prada with a committed rocking of items by the luxury Italian fashion brand; a sweater in one interview, a gray suit in others. Still, when asked if he wore Prada 24-7, he once insisted that he's "not a poster boy for them."


↑ Gothic in fashion but not in building design, French architect and academic Odile Decq takes the classic "architects in all black trope" to very Tim Burton-ish territory, reigning as the design world's uncontested Night Queen.


Strong-emotion-provoking jaggedness master Daniel Libeskind doesn't reach Peter Marino levels of leather, but he can usually be seen rocking a black leather jacket and cowboy boots. He occasionally mixed things up with Armani suit jackets, but the boots have taken over as a sort of stand-in for Libeskind's self-styled rock-star-ish persona (as in, "oh look, another cavalier thing from Daniel 'Cowboy Boots' Libeskind"). As he explained to the Times, he acquired his first pair for $207 in Bozeman, Mont. as a kind of "so there" gesture to his staff reminding them that he did in fact follow through on a scheduled lecture there, and simply "never took them off." According to Libeskind, "the boots have a certain levity. Life can't get too serious.''


↑ Bonus round: Sparkle King Karim Rashid may be an industrial and interior designer, but the array of Kool-Aid-colored NYC buildings he has in the offing has earned the pink-obsessed sage a spot on this list. That, and the fact that at the 2014 Architizer A+ Awards Gala, he related in his speech how several people had told him he was the best dressed person in the room, to which he claimed to have replied "that's not hard in a room full of architects.'"

· In at the deep end: Zaha Hadid takes the plunge into swimwear [The Telegraph]
· All Zaha Hadid coverage [Curbed National]
· All Le Corbusier coverage [Curbed National]
· All Peter Marino coverage [Curbed National]
· All Richard Meier coverage [Curbed National]
· All Rem Koolhaas coverage [Curbed National]
· All Daniel Libeskind coverage [Curbed National]
· All Karim Rashid coverage [Curbed National]