Today’s Google Doodle spotlights Dame Zaha Hadid. It offers a virtual tour of her early sketches and drawings in collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries. The late Pritzker Prize-winning architect (1950-2016) designed the London-based Serpentine Sackler Gallery Pavillion in 2013 and this past year, it featured an exhibition of her early paintings and drawings. Led by haunting music and riffing through her works, everyone is invited to revisit Dame Hadid’s unrealized projects.
Leicester Square (1990)
Dame Zaha Hadid’s Leicester Square (1990) proposed a revolutionized concept of the London city square with plunging public spaces below the ground’s surface. These were meant to be veritable skyscraper canyons that sliced through the earth.
Explore the online virtual exhibition here, before learning more about Dame Zaha Hadid’s extraordinary style, as told by her friend Cathy Leff, in the April issue of Vogue Arabia.
“When I met Zaha Hadid in 1993, for the inauguration of the construction of her first international design work, the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, Germany, I was completely taken by her physical presence. Initially, I considered that her flamboyant fashion aesthetic – a bravado display of color, texture, and volume – was incompatible with the sleek, stylized lines of her architecture. Later, it all made sense. In her work, the Iraqi Pritzker Prize-winning architect was bold, daring, experimental, and always pushing boundaries. She did the same with what she wore. Her style was architectural, even monumental. I believe that she considered fashion to be an architectural expression. She may have even used her body to experiment with shapes before her forms could even be built.
Zaha transferred her wicked sense of humor to her outfits. I may have told her of my amusement about some of the accessories she wore: vibrant-colored shoes with feathers and other funny ornamentations. She knew that she was investing in museum-quality fashion that represented the best work of the designers who created them. She had an appetite for creativity and always sought out and promoted the work of young talent. Zaha loved Japanese fashion, which, like her own work, called upon new technologies to create forms and textiles. She regularly collected and wore the work of Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Comme des Garçons. She also wore clothes by Prada, Hussein Chalayan, and Martin Margiela. Zaha meticulously cared for everything she owned. In fact, I’m not sure she ever got rid of anything other than the occasion pieces that she would gift to me and other friends.
If Zaha was insatiable in her buying, she also consumed all kinds of information. She was interested in contemporary and pop culture, went to fashion shows, sought out the newest and youngest talent, had friendships with designers, and even collaborated with them on products; in particular, jewelry and shoes. She created several pieces for Lebanese high jewelry brand Aziz & Walid Mouzannar and Danish jewelry house Georg Jensen. She also created shoes for United Nude – though the 3D-printed rotation chromed rubber-molded shoes were more like sculptures. It’s difficult to imagine how she kept up with so much and with so many people and yet managed to build the practice and body of work that she did – the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the MAXXI Museum in Rome, and the Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul, to name a few masterpieces. She had tremendous capacity.
Cathy Leff is the president of culture and design boutique consulting firm Leff Initiatives in Miami. She is the director emerita of The Wolfsonian-Florida International University
“A Dame’s Wardrobe,” originally published in the April issue of Vogue Arabia