fashion designer mary katranzou
Mary Katranzou
Mary Karantzou

The ancient and atmospheric Temple of Poseidon (above) provided a key influence – and the breathtaking backdrop – for the Greek designer’s unforgettable 2019 show

In 2019, we presented a collection at the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio, Greece, which was built during 444-440 BC. It was an event to raise funds and awareness for the Association of Friends of Children with Cancer. Rising above the Aegean at the edge of the Attica peninsula, the temple is perched above the sea at a height of almost 70 metres. It’s an incredible structure that connects the earth, sea and sky in a unique way, and was the perfect backdrop for our efforts.

When we finally got the approval from the Ministry of Culture, I cried. I wanted anyone who had not visited the Temple of Poseidon to be as overwhelmed as I was when I first saw it. Our rich cultural heritage was the inspiration for this event and it was the first time that the location where we staged our show would influence the collection we designed. Each look represented an idea that was birthed in Greece at the time the structure was built, from philosophy to trigonometry and science. Giving form to these abstract ideas made us realise how relevant they still are today.

chichu art museum on naoshima island in japan designed by tadao ando
Construction Photography/Avalon

fashion designer charlie casley hayford
Charlie Casley Hayford
Charlie Casely-Hayford

For the British designer, an art museum crafted from concrete serves as a lesson in restraint

Situated on Japan’s Naoshima island, the Chichu Art Museum was designed by Tadao Ando specifically to house work by Walter De Maria, Claude Monet and James Turrell, and it’s the most unique art experience I’ve had. Presented initially with only a single wall and door jutting out of the hillside as you enter the building, you are ejected from the ordinary and thrust into a new consciousness shaped and dictated wholly by Ando.

Through his architecture he controls how you interact with the artworks, and plays on positive and negative spaces to create expanses of darkness marked by bright interjections of light. It was an education for me in restraint and distillation. The idea of duality runs throughout, with the stark concrete walls cultivating a fearsome aesthetic juxtaposed by the serenity and delicacy of the natural shards of light. It’s a space that consistently inspires me and forces me to think about the art of reduction.

the dunmore pineapple building in dunmore park, airth, scotland, built 1761
george robertson / Alamy Stock Photo

holly fulton british fashion designer
John Phillips/BFC
Holly Fulton

A fruit-inspired folly from her childhood offers food for thought for the Scottish designer

I often hark back to my Scottish roots within my work, deriving inspiration from many aspects, such as the Georgian splendour of Edinburgh and the raw textures of the Highlands. It’s not always a conscious association, more something that has been a seminal influence on me and finds its way into my output. A building I often revisit and refer to is The Pineapple near Airth. I vividly recall the first time I saw it as a child, bursting through the gate to be greeted by a sight that astonished and delighted me then, and still does today.

Created as a hothouse to grow pineapples for the Earl of Dunmore, it’s a structure that plays to one man’s foibles, and why not? I love excess and nothing embodies it more for me than this. The graphic lines of the lower palladian section echo the set we designed for our Fashion in Motion show at the V&A – I often use strong lines as a foil to the more flamboyant flourishes in my work. It’s a joyous building, and has that edge of surrealism and pop that punctuates my design sensibility.

ruby city by david adjaye
Dror Baldinger FAIA

fashion designer roksanda illinic
Quentin Jones
Roksanda Ilincic

The Serbian-born designer finds inspiration in a unique and striking community space

I’ve long been an admirer of the brilliant architect Sir David Adjaye and I’m extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with him, most notably on my own London store, which opened in 2014. However, the building that holds a special resonance for me is ‘Ruby City’ in San Antonio, Texas.

Designed to be an inspirational and creative space for the whole community, the structure draws from its local surroundings to become a visual representation of the exact landscape in which it was conceived. Using glass and mica aggregate from nearby Mexico City, the façade takes on a beautiful reddish-pink hue that changes in texture and shade the higher up you look. It’s such an unusual and striking feature, which makes it so wonderfully unique in its design. I love how it brings together ideas of modernity and nature in an effortless yet meaningful way. I can’t wait for it to reopen, so I can go and admire it in person.

eileen gray e 1027 villa

fashion designer  eudon choi
Eudon Choi
Eudon Choi

London-based Choi took his lead from Eileen Gray’s villa on the French Riviera for his SS18 collection

I’ve been a huge admirer of the work of the architect and designer Eileen Gray for a long time and covet most of her furniture. But my favourite of all her designs is the sublime E-1027, a modernist villa in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, southern France. It was Gray’s first architectural creation and through this wonderful building you really get to understand the thought that she put into every bit of detail.

I see E-1027 as her manifesto for design brought to life – both for its architecture and for the fixed and free-standing furniture, lamps and decorations that are inseparable from it. Gray worked on the property between 1926 and 1929, designing the furniture and working with her partner Jean Badovici on the plans and layout. The name of the house is actually a reference to their names – ‘E’ stands for Eileen, while 10, 2 and 7 relate to the alphabetical positions of the rest of the couple’s initials. E-1027 has to be one of the most beautiful properties of the 20th century. I was so enamoured by the villa that my SS18 collection was called E-1027 and took direct inspiration from its clean lines. I have still to visit the iconic building, but hope to make a pilgrimage there next summer.

cuadra san cristobal designed by luis barragan
Lorenzo Zandri

fashion designer hussein chalayan
Hussein Chalayan

The colourful minimalism of Luis Barragán has long stood out for Cyprus-born Chalayan

In my work, architectural theory has had more of an effect on me than individual buildings as, in my view, its anthropological elements – meaning of place and how we move around in space – also apply to fashion. On a personal level, Casa Egerstrom by Luis Barragán was the first piece of architecture that really stood out for me. What I like about it is the purity juxtaposed with the tropical and exotic vegetation of the local environment – as well as his navigation of water – adding life and charm to the clean lines.

Barragán remains my favourite architect. I appreciate the way he timelessly harnesses nature while being a true minimalist. He also has a superb sense of colour, which, for me, very much honours the light and the sun in that part of the world. Many of his buildings would also work well in Mediterranean settings, as the vegetation and the light is similar to that in Mexico.

the fisher building and its ceiling, which features intricate frescoes and mosaics, in detroit

fashion designer michael halpern
Michael Halpern
Michael Halpern

The American-born, UK-based designer marvels at the majesty of an art deco masterpiece in Detroit

There is a skyscraper in Detroit called the Fisher Building – the architect was Albert Kahn, and it was completed in 1928. My best friend lives in the city and he has taken me there to see it. The sheer size of it is something that is quite hard to understand from a picture – it’s really quite moving!

I love art deco architecture, and the Fisher has so many incredible features, from the façade to all of the magnificent spaces inside, ornately decorated with carvings, inlay and bronzes. For me, that period of design is so inspiring because of its sumptuous detail – it’s this rich visual dialogue between colour, pattern and texture that I constantly look to with my work. The glamour of it is such an amazing sensory overload.

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration September 2020

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.


Keep your spirits up and subscribe to ELLE Decoration here, so our magazine is delivered direct to your door.