Skin + Bones: Where fashion and architecture collide

Fashion: A series of portraits taken against a backdrop of threatened Irish buildings

Pleating, stitching, folding and draping are part of the terminology of fashion, but since the 1980s and revolutionary developments in technology, also part of architecture.

For both practices, the point of origin is the body; though their scales are different, both protect, shelter and express identity. Both start in flat two dimensions to create three dimensional forms according to Brooke Hodge, an American Art and Architecture director, in her introduction to Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture.

Ciana March is an Irish architecture graduate whose keen interest in fashion led her to co-found the Concrete Collar fashion and architecture blog with fellow graduate Becky Wallace a few years ago. Now she works as a freelance creative director, styling, writing and project managing small independent Irish brands across fashion, design and craft. She is relaunching the Concrete Collar website this month and interviewing people involved in the disciplines.

This shoot, which she conceived and styled with photographer Sean Jackson, is a series of fashion portraits taken against the backdrop of threatened Irish mid-century/modernist facades. The styling focuses on tailoring, tying it in with the often overlooked and intricate design synonymous with this style of architecture. The idea was stimulated after March attended Docomomo’s AGM last year, an Irish group that aims to act as a watchdog when important Irish modern buildings and sites are threatened with demolition. The group’s acting chair is Simon Walker, son of the late Irish architect Robin Walker.


Three buildings under focus are AIB Bank Centre (architect Andy Devane) in Ballsbridge from 1969. March says: “The buildings’ white balconies are actually a shimmering band of mosaic. Subtle press folds in a Cos AW17 tailored blazer and slit closure of a burgundy patent bag reflect the building’s subtle decorative finishing.

“The burgundy and red are a nod to the warm tinted brown glass used throughout the complex; shades less imposing than the more familiar aqua and green hued glass used in office architecture.”

The second is the former Bord Failte HQ (Scott Tallon Walker architects 1962) due for demolition but under appeal. “A tactile jumper padded with an angled grid speaks to the symmetrical square plan that lays out the building’s internal space. The concept used behind the Cos skirt and dress aims to minimise waste by the manipulating of simple shapes such as squares and rectangles. A palette of steel grey and grey melange fabrics were chosen, harking to the building’s concrete structure,” March explains.

The third building is Fitzwilton House (Shoolheifer and Don Burley 1969) due for demolition this year. March says: “Art collector and prominent businessman Sir Basil Goulding commissioned this building from two architects. A bold example of modernist architecture with dramatic concrete wings, it employs a number of concrete finishes. The fine pleating of the Cos AW17 top, Junya Watanabe dresses and Hache kilt speak to the delicate ribbed finish of the building’s concrete and the columns that form its facade and colonnade.”

Director and stylist: Ciana March; photographer: Sean Jackson; hair and make up: Orlaith Shore, models: Roma and Luke at Not Another Agency/ Laoise at Morgan the Agency. Special thanks to Simon Walker.