Zaha Hadid to exhibit work by
her favourite fashion designer



Architect Zaha Hadid's gallery space in London is to host a show of work by fashion designer Elke Walter, who creates many of the statement pieces worn by the architect. Main image by Tung Walsh.

Elke Walter creates unconventional one-of-a-kind garments that are draped into extravagant shapes rather than cut and fitted, which have become a favourite of Zaha Hadid's.

Walter first met Hadid during Design Miami 2006, where her garments were on display at a charity event. "She just tried on, then about half a year later we were contacted by her PA and she asked if the pieces were still available," Walter told Dezeen.

Zaha Hadid portrait wearing Elke Walter photograph by Tung Walsh
Zaha Hadid wearing one-of-a-kind design by Elke Walter. Photograph by Tung Walsh

Since then, Hadid has chosen Walter's designs to wear for photoshoots and the opening events for her high-profile building projects including the Guangzhou Opera House.

"When I know it's for a special event, I do something that nobody else would and she looks so great in it and I love that," Walter said.

She revealed that she's happy to find a customer who likes her designs. "Regular customers find my designs too crazy," said Walter. "Maybe [Hadid] has some of the craziness that I have. I can't explain why she likes them, maybe there's a link between how we both think and design."

Zaha Hadid portrait wearing Elke Walter
Zaha Hadid wearing one-of-a-kind design by Elke Walter

Her garments are often voluminous and use a lot of material, creating flexibility and allowing them to fit any body type.

"You can move in it," she said. "Even if it's a big piece, you always feel comfortable, like it belongs to you. The pieces are adjustable to different people's bodies and this comes from the way I cut it."

Instead of using patterns and cutting sections of fabric to sew together, she drapes and folds the material over a mannequin and sometimes herself to form the shapes.

"I create the shape by cutting straight into the fabric, or holding it up like a sculpture but it takes a lot of time," she explained. "I want to give it a shape from all sides so you could also put it on a hanger and use it as a decorative piece, thats my goal."

Fashion design by Elke Walter
One-of-a-kind design by Elke Walter

Walter primarily works with synthetic fabrics as they tend not to crease as much as natural materials.

"The advantage of these new fibres is that you can wash them, you can wear them, you can sit on them, you can sleep in them, they don't change," she told us. "I can't stand it when somebody gets up from sitting in a silk dress and it's all crinkled."

Walter will be showing and selling her one-of-a-kind pieces along with a simple range of black clothing she calls Essentials at the Zaha Hadid Design Gallery in London's Clerkenwell district from 21 to 23 November.

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Posted on Saturday November 9th 2013 at 2:00 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • dr. t

    The second dress looks like an Issey Miyake replica. All her designs are unoriginal.

    • davvid

      Which Issey Miyake dress?

    • Marc

      Describing a design as unoriginal because a fabric similar to Miyake is being used is rather unfair, dr. t.

    • charlie

      Nice try, Issey.

  • Marc


  • Inna

    These designs are exquisite.

  • Barack

    I reckon that if Zaha Hadid would have wanted Miyake, she would simply have chosen Miyake. Glad that she chose Elke Walter, her work is amazing!

  • melon

    If some find the work resembles Issey Miyake, it is because it probably does. Hadid’s love for Miyake over the years is well documented. e.g.
    “I travel almost exclusively in Miyake clothes— even though I have to iron them.”
    “Wearing Miyake upside down or inside out means that I can double the use, and I don’t have to think about what to wear, I just squash it into a suitcase. They’re very modern pieces and they don’t need the sort of care that antiquities do.”

  • Inna

    Well then it’s great minds think alike, @4d8a2d4e2172db122c741bf6b149f2fd:disqus and @71204b5e5425ee7df2ff52763cdf99c5:disqus

  • etmDesigns

    Hahaha! Any one who simplifies and diminishes the work of a designer by mere superficial and vague observations does not understand the richness and complexity of this world of design and fashion.

    Miyake’s and Walter’s work is quite diverse one from the other, but you wouldn’t know that unless you really knew what it entails to put together their creations! Only through in-depth observation, education, openness, and complex thought can one arrive at a substantial opinion.

    • pipo

      NO. One doesn’t need to arrive at a substantial opinion on a design through complex thought at all.

      • etmDesigns

        We would need to define “complex thought” in order to determine that you don’t agree with my comment. A child is capable of “complex thought” when appreciating a design… To each their own. I have worked personally with Walter and Hadid, and this is our philosophy of design. And “pipo”, the response was geared to those who equate the use of organic forms and structured fabrics, with “a replica” of a design… Quite a vague observation.