Brutalism in Fashion: Not A History Lesson

Brutality excites me. Hold up. Pause. What?


Re-read the title. Brutality in fashion excites me. But just wait a second; this isn’t an article based on the controversial debates about whether fur and leather are ethical or not – I couldn’t possibly go into that. Rather, a correlation between two of my favourite creative subjects that has existed for a lot longer than me, has recently got me thinking. My two loves, architecture and fashion form a very close bond with each other. Now, I’m not one to rave on about history, mainly because well, I embarrassingly enough, just don’t know enough about it. But, I can kind of rave on about a few of the architectural movements throughout history and how these movements influenced popular trends and how one movement in particular, influences my personal style.




 When I say Art Deco, you say Gatsby.





Just after WWI, technology started to rapidly expand and modernity had struck: Urban society was born, advertisers, big business and the middle class boomed. Many cities developed buildings that embodied art deco design plans. Fast forward – There is a time of day, just as the sun begins to set that I can look out my window, across the road at the reflection in the wide spanning opposing windows and can faintly comprehend the Manhattan skyline, where the famous Chrysler building steals the show. With it’s world renowned terraced crown, composed of seven terraced arches that radiate in a sunburst pattern, it’s hard to miss.

The fashion clique knew exactly what was to come at the end of WWI – It was in the 1920s where the bobbed haircut, long waisted dresses, V-necklines and ostrich features gained social acceptance. The fashion in the 1930’s was considered even more ‘modernist’ than what we call modern now. It remained similar to that of the Gatsby period, though remove the big bird features and replace it with geometric lines and shapes. The use of bright colours masked the economy’s misery! Think of Sass & Bide – Extremely Art Deco and extremely expensive.

Okay… That’s enough history for now. I always considered myself someone who doesn’t have an art deco influenced style, however, researching got me thinking… There are definitely times that I will walk out of the door having no idea that the architectural movement has inspired my choice of clothing – I wouldn’t walk out of the house dressed as Daisy in The Great Gatsby, but I would most definitely walk out of the house with a black midi skirt and a tucked in V-neck top, coupled with a bold coloured clutch and solid metal pieces of jewelry… I’m just maybe not as colourful as the art deco movement intended me to be. This brings me to my next point. What movement is my style greatly influenced by?




 In a tiny nutshell, brutalism is the French term used by Le Corbusier to describe the raw architecture often made with concrete but can also include brick, glass, steel, rouch-hewn stone, and gabions. Simplicity in architecture is rare so stripping back the prettifications and leave a building bare is to me, somehow… sexual. Lines and repetitive patterns appeal to me (but don’t get me wrong, blobitecture or organic architecture will always be my favourite). However, this is not about architecture so to speak, it’s about how these architectural movements are continuing to inspire fashion.

I am the type of person who always goes for the safe option of plain Jane black... Even with nail polish. I can’t deal with the tossing and turning all night when I decide to be adventurous and choose the blue top. I keep the tag on for a few days while I wear my new colourful item, knowing that I will be exchanging it for the black. Yep… I am that person. I love black things. When I have black on, my buoyancy increases and I feel more powerful like I can push my way onto the subway with assertion. Brutalism doesn’t have any of that art deco stuff – it’s simple in a sensual way. It’s monochromatic and hard. A lot of the black I wear is very much influenced by brutalism trends and a lot of the things I wish I could wear but are too expensive, 85% of the time express such qualities. Although some of my other black clothes are very grunge inspired, I can certainly see brutal aspects intertwined. I just love brutalism to the point where I want to dress like that concrete motherfucker of a building.

Because many shopping centres and universities have adopted a brutalism inspired piece of architecture that basically looks really ugly, people tend to believe that brutalism is well… ugly. However, I urge you to Google: “brutalism architecture house” because you will see just how beautiful this movement can be seen as. Canadian architect, Arthur Erickson’s Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver is a brilliant example of a brutalist experiment with natural light that reflects a pool creating a challenging correlation with nature. A piece of incredible architecture by Apollo Architects & Associates in Chiba, Japan can be seen here, where a perfect relationship is established between the linear nature of the house and materials used and the environment, including tall symbolic trees surrounding the house.

At the end of the day, I like concrete and the colour black...

PS: The weather has not permitted me to take cool photos of things I want to so new photos to come in the next week.