Hussein Chalayan, after seventeen years of his design career, is finding a rigorously disciplined voice with his clothes, which rather than sway to any particular theme or tricked out concept, are being admired for what they are – innovative tailoring that sears deep into your brain once on.
The special thing about it is that it's an ore that is strong and light at the same time – it's different to other metals. You could almost build aircraft with it
Admiring them from afar in a show context though, it isn’t quite as simple as merely commenting on what a technical feat a foam sleeved and ruched neck jacket is or how hexagonal and geometric the pattern cutting is. The models came out in various groups, each one pertaining to a phrase that Chalayan derived from reacting to certain imagery or themes – everything from tying a bath robe around the body to stock market crashes apparently. 'Light and Dark' and 'Cause and Effect' were just a sampling of these phrases. Trying to ask Chalayan how these words linked up with the clothes though was a difficult task.
"I've been doing this for seventeen years – a lot of it is instinctive – they just come naturally to me at this point. I feel like I could almost not have a theme. They are musings," spoke Chalayan after the show as though he had given up explaining (and to some extent defending) himself. We can let his clothes just be though when it involves leggings with holographic sections spliced into them, vaguely 60s architecture-inspired colour blocking and a prominent motif of cut-out windows in rectangular dresses and coats, which again nudged towards this idea of building a home for the body, with 'domi' being Latin for 'at home' after all. There was nothing silent about Chalayan though when talking about the two dresses that incorporated the material Palladium. Pushing the boundaries between technology and fashion once again, Chalayan makes brilliant use out of this distinctive white metal by pairing them with neon perspex in a cut-out neckpiece that holds the dress together.
"The special thing about it is that it's an ore that is strong and light at the same time – it's different to other metals. You could almost build aircraft with it." It was an innovative take on neck decoration, dressing up for an occasion and this was about as close to decorative evening wear as Chalayan would get. Another cause for intrigue was a woven material that appeared to be a print featuring blocks of colour and dashes of grey, apparently inspired by bacteria mixed with ship parts. We’ll check ourselves when we delve too deep into it all as, that apparently isn’t what Chalayan is after. He’s had enough of concept over clothing and with this collection, it’s the clothes that ultimately do the talking.