This is a response to Alan Davies's posting on his blog that fashion and architecture have much in common.
Alan Davies’s is still one of the two only blogs I follow. I disagree with him only sometimes, particularly on the viability of public transport in Melbourne, but I virtually always disagree when, like The Age art critic, Robert Nelson, he ventures an opinion on architecture, a field well beyond his expertise. Both feel free do this, and I welcome them to attempt it, because they are stepping boldly into a vacuum: inexplicably there is NO public discourse, explication, or criticism of architecture in Melbourne.
Davies proffers the view that architecture and fashion have much in common: my view has long been the opposite. He first proposes that both valorise appearance, both have a function; both derive their form from ideas. Their difference is merely in scale, that architecture is bespoke, architects are free not to worry about weight, or movement, or even climate control. He even somehow finds confluence between fashion and bicycle design!
Davies is wrong: both architecture and fashion are bespoke. Haut couture is as unique as a work of architecture. But their premises are entirely different. Architecture is design for a client’s brief, a budget, permit constraints, tied to a specific site and its context. None of this applies to fashion. In my view, architectural design evolves from these determinants, as well as the architect’s own ethos, evolved incrementally over a lifetime of reflection and production. None of these matter for fashion, which only must be strikingly reinvented annually: very year there must be a new look, each year a whimsical fancy. If it offers ideas rather than mere sensation, they escape me.
I certainly agree with Davies that the ‘Wearing the City’ esquisse was frivolous, pointless and most unworthy of Monash, which with some justification, now aspires to be Australia’s premier Architecture School.
Richard Peterson, Architect.