I can’t necessarily tell you what Le Corbusier looked like, but I can damn well tell what he wore. The straight pipe. The oval glasses. The dark bow tie. The double breasted suit. The white pocket square. Like one of the fifty-eight buildings he designed throughout his five-plus decade career as an architect, Le Corbusier’s style was a careful construct, stringing together a stringent set of elements in an altogether unique manner. For as much as it has become a tired adage, it was not the pieces that Le Corbusier (born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris) wore, but rather the way in which he wore them.
Le Corbusier rarely deviated from his basic sartorial template, therefore it was the way in which he composed these pieces that was so extraordinary. His taut bow ties were adorned with a variety of neat patterns that oft required closer inspection. His array of broad six-on-two double breasted suits slung comfortably around his shoulders, with low peak lapels and fine textures. These suits were always finished with a white pocket square, never crisply folded, but always prominent His spectacles, with lenses that resembled a rock’s glass and frames as thick as bold text were the punctuation mark of his style, a signature that almost bordered on self caricature. And of course there was the pipe, rigid and dramatic almost like a horizontal “L” with the tail cut off which Le Corbusier would drag on intermittently, only adding to his natty persona.
For a man who is largely considered to be one of the forefathers of modern architecture, I can fault no one for overlooking Le Corbusier’s stylistic prowess, but much the same way that his buildings are studied today, there is a lot to be learned from his unflappably refined attire. —JG