Inspiration from Architecture: Cathedrals

So last week I was touring with just possibly the awesomest choir ever through North Carolina. During this trip we got to stop at the Chapel at Duke University (which is stunningly gorgeous). I was just sitting after a wonderful dinner and decided to take a look at them when I remembered something.

When we got to Duke chapel I was super pumped because I had taken Art History during my fall semester. So I was ready to astound and impress with my expanded architectural vocabulary because it’s a rare opportunity. I mean, how many other times can you properly apply the words “tympanum” or “engaged columns” in proper conversation? And those are the easier ones. Try talking about groin vaults. I double dare you.

Gorgeous no? Well, I’ll be completely honest, I wasn’t that impressive with my architectural vocabulary. I think I got some points for mentioning tympanum and trefoils, but that was about it. There were two reasons for this; A.) I was pretty speechless and was busy taking as many photos as I could for photo inspiration and B.) I probably wasn’t paying so much attention to that section of that day of lecture.

I know, I’m a terrible student and all, but anyone who’s been through an Art Hist. can tell you it’s test of the human will. I mean slides and a dark room AND it was right after lunch. This particular incident I had just gotten instructions for my portfolio from FIT. I had my sketchbook out and while attentively listening I began to sketch.

This was the result. It’s got a monastic feel, but it’s still sexy modern and a little bit strange. The geometry of the dress–the boning in the corset, the severity of the tulip skirt, the cut of the capelet–is what is truly informed by the architecture. Even the color palette, though not really intentionally, relates back to stained glass back then.

After that, I took that aesthetic and ran with it. I had also recently watched the classic 1980’s Flash Gordon (highly recommended for anyone interested in costume design, beading, or good ol’ cheesy over the top 80’s scifi with an awesome soundtrack by none other than Queen.) Here’s the rest:

It’s funny. For the longest time I found designers’ ability to create fashion from art and architecture puzzling. I mean, I was inspired by other designers’ fashion, or even period clothing, but art and architecture was a whole other story. But now, I really dig it.

So that’s the end of this bit, I’m working on a few more posts, possibly a look for less and a sewing bit, showing what I’ve been up to since last time, and some extra fun surprise stuff!

Sew on!



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