Concept versus commerce. That’s the conundrum that Hussein Chalayan seems to have been pondering for the past few seasons, proposing various solutions and this collection felt like it had reached a sort of zenith. In fact, "ascendancy" was what he said backstage as he talked of the blurred-out paintings by the likes of Benjamin West, Titian and Francois Lemoyne, used in the projected backdrop.
"It was really about creating that reluctant spirit and to catch that earthbound element," said Chalayan. "I’m on a trip to my own language, applying it to new types of dressing."
It was quite the trip. The duality between concept and commerce was reconciled in twisted work wear pieces, evident in a pair of raw denim trousers with giant upturns. Electric waved prints glitched and moved their way around asymmetrical biker tops and jackets. We were then taken by surprise when a model tugged at the neck of what appeared to be a black shift dress to reveal a two-layered printed gown in one swift movement. That gesture came three times and they were each convincing and arresting, marrying up Chalayan’s own past transformation/shift themes with what is essentially a beautiful dress. Peeling wallpaper dresses, laser-cut out of silk and delicately pieced together, referenced Chalayan’s innate love of texture. In ascendance, Chalayan is more trusting of his instincts, embracing the past and finding a future there somewhere.