When Zaha Hadid‘s winning design for the 2022 FIFA World Cup stadium in Qatar (below) was unveiled last fall, it was met with outrage, approval and a lot of amusement.
Although the legendary architect said the stadium’s curvy folds were inspired by the sails of an Arab fishing boat, most people thought it looked like the world’s biggest vulva.
The controversy wasn’t new to the Iraq-born Hadid, whose futuristic, prize-winning buildings often mimic the sensuous contours of the female form. We’ve included a few examples below.
It also sparked a fascinating discussion in art circles about the growing prominence of curvilinear designs in modern buildings and, more significantly, the primal appeal of curved shapes in general.
A 2013 study conducted by a University of Toronto psychologist, who used a brain scanner to measure human response to interior and exterior building shapes, found evidence of an instinctual “emotional” response to curved architectural lines in the participants’ brain activity. (An earlier study from the Harvard Medical School showed that angular lines trigger fear and avoidance reactions in the brain.)
“For reasons hidden in the foundations of the brain’s architecture, a curve, because it suggests warmth and well-being and harmony, touches a more profound part of the psyche than a parallelogram,” UK architecture critic Stephen Bayley told CNN. “Maybe this is because a woman’s breasts are generally not right-angled.”
This obvious truth was not lost on Nichole De Carle, the British lingerie designer known for creating complex garments that apply the geometric lines of famous architectural landmarks to the fluid contours of the female body.
Her Spring/Summer 2015 collection, which debuts next week at the Mode City lingerie show in Paris, shows NDC embracing curved lines and shapes thanks to the “clear influence” of Zaha Hadid‘s feminized building designs.
This is a significant shift for the Nichole De Carle brand, which is known for highly structured pieces with sharp intersecting lines — and heretofore inspired by historic buildings like Westminster Abbey and Notre Dame.
You’ll detect a general softening of shapes throughout the SS15 collection, but most notably in the Soiree range and in the high-end Onyx Black Label grouping. Those familiar strappy lines are still evident, but the zigzag patterns and serrated edges are fewer and the geometric elements play off in contrast against softer, rounder contours throughout.
The entire collection, the company said in a press release, is meant to be seen as the “celebration of a female shape.”
This is not to say Nichole’s signature look has been tossed aside. The expanded Signature collection includes two new styles that borrow shapes from iconic international landmarks: the Eiffel Tower and the spires of Milan’s Duomo. Even these sets, though, with their intricate criss-crossed straps, show a softer side of Nichole De Carle and a determination to bring natural and man-made shapes into harmony.
The SS15 collection also includes new loungewear pieces and a functional, moderately-priced Everyday range with trendy color options that accentuate the color-blocked look. The premium-priced made-to-order Onyx Black Label range has likewise been upgraded with new fabrics, sizes and color options, plus a sleek new version of the notorious Tuxedo body, which Beyonceé wore during her “Drunk In Love” showstopper at this year’s Grammies.
Nichole isn’t the only lingerie designer to look to the built environment for inspiration. In America, Brooklyn design star Becca McCharen of Chromat, herself an architect, conceived many of her extraordinary pieces as tributes to the work of freethinking architectural rebels from the 1970s. And in Canada, Fortnight Lingerie‘s Christina Remenyi created a 2013 collection inspired by the massive curved ironworks of American sculptor Richard Serra.
The synergy between fashion and architecture is so compelling, in fact, that we’d love to see someone like Nichole De Carle collaborate with Christo — perhaps to fit a bodysuit around the Absolute World ‘Marilyn Monroe’ Towers just outside Toronto?
That may be unlikely, but don’t be surprised if Nichole is called upon, sometime before the opening of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, to create a thong for Zaha Hadid‘s provocative architectural masterpiece.
The NDC SS15 collection will generate a lot of buzz in Paris next week, but you’ll have to wait until next winter for it to reach stores. Below are some selections.