Zaha Hadid early beginnings

The middle East was experiencing great architectural change when Zaha Hadid entered the world. Born in Baghdad in 1950, the entire region was undergoing immense architectural developments as modern buildings began to form part of the city's landscape. These building were to the population an indication of progress, symbolising glamour and denoting progressive thinking.

As the daughter of the preeminent politician  Mohammed Hadid, Zaha Hadid's early life was comfortable, in fact she lived in the first Bauhaus building built in Baghdad, a facet which may have influenced her interested in design.

Zaha Hadid studied mathematics at the American Institute in Beirut, Lebanon before moving to London to train as an architect at the Architectural Association School.

Career highlights

Throughout her career, Zaha Hadid has enjoyed numerous successes and her commissions can be found all over the world. Zaha Hadid has been duly recognised for her contribution to design, becoming the first woman to ever receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. She also received the Stirling prize for two consecutive years in a row, in 2010 and 2011, to name just a few.

If you are unfamiliar with Zaha Hadid's designs, they are generally larger than life, bold, and often described as neofuturistic. Her portfolio includes some prominent landmarks, showpieces that have become the central feature in global events such as the Aquatics Centre in the London Olympics in 2012. Zaha Hadid has also designed the National Museum for 21st Century Art in Rome, the Serpentine gallery in Hyde Park and Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi to name a few. While many of these final products divide opinion, few will go unnoticed.

"She sort of chose herself ..."- Colin Mc Dowell

In her capacity as a powerful female in the public eye, Zaha Hadid was perhaps the natural choice to co-organise an exhibition on female fashion at the Design Museum in London, a role which was self appointed, according to DeZeen magazine. Curating an exhibition on female power dressing was clearly going to be an opportunity to celebrate some formidable female figures.

Zaha Hadid as curator

The clothes that Zaha Hadid and her co-curator Colin Mc Dowell have selected have been worn by some of the best-known females in the world who hold varying degrees of power; and the items of clothing have been selected for the impact they had when they were worn. Whether the clothes were intended to attract attention, to influence or empower the wearer, the exhibition underpins the importance of female power-dressing in a world where large sections of society: politics, economics, the arts and business are still dominated by men.

For women everywhere

Much of the literature on Zaha Hadid professional feats seldom overlook her gender. You will find so many commentators reference Hadid’s achievements by opening with the sentence 'First woman to...'. Zaha Hadid occupies a profession dominated by men, meaning the strength of her character is attributable to her unmatched success in the world of architecture.

Zaha Hadid's achievements within design therefore have been first as a designer, second as woman-and in the capacity of both she has played on an equal playing field to her male-counterparts. As a woman Zaha Hadid has broken new ground and she should be perceived as a role model and inspiration to girls and women across the world.