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Hussein Chalayan Womenswear S/S11

With a self-directed film presentation, Chalayan presents his collection centred around Japanese culture

It's no surprise that Hussein Chalayan chooses to present his collection as a film, as he has of course mastered the medium on many occasion. In a self-directed film presentation, Chalayan went through the seven parts of his collection 'Sakoku' that delves into his own experiences of Japan. If last season was about a road trip, here he stops off at Japan, stays still and contemplates aspects such as technology, theatre, poetry and the psyche of Japanese culture. "Japan is saturated with disembodied experiences in a de-centred space where event is born out of the choreography of ceremony and the simulation of thought," says Chalayan on the notes which goes some way in explaining his chosen theme for the collection. Japanese costume, however, was not on the agenda, nor would we expect Chalayan to go down such literal paths: "I was inspired by Japan without looking at Japanese clothing."

Instead Chalayan went through passages that started off with the namesake Sakoku, in reference to the 17th to mid-19th century period of cultural isolation, which manifested itself as black and white slouchy tailored looks, and plenty of white shirting with the film depicting shrouds to symbolise that detachment. The portion 'De-centred' had cotton voile dresses with flashes of sky blue inspired by the Japanese culture of arrangement which moved swiftly onto a portion of dresses with broderie Anglaise diagonally placed on the body like wrapping ribbon, also recalling the backseat covers of taxicabs in Tokyo. These cut and spliced grey crepe satin dresses, as well as white poplin shirts. Japanese mesh related to the wicker sliding doors of a Japanese house with a woven grey and white texture used on trousers that look like a pixelated pattern. 

There were some references to Japanese attire, but only in scant quantities when the colours of a floral print of a Haiku dress were used in pastel draped dresses structured with a padded nylon fabric. In the film, for the penultimate 'Haiku' section, printed floral dresses (English flowers incidentally...) were seen being operated by Bunraku agents creating movement in the floaty chiffon which added another reference to Japanese puppetry. Finally, a floating body revisited Chalayan's sleeves that curve around the shoulder and these curved lines when paired with the colours of Kabuki theatre add a richness to a collection that feels like a cleansing palette.  

"A big/busy composition is much easier to achieve because you can hide a lot of mistakes. If it's simpler, then your eye just goes there. It's a good time for people to simplify a bit. You have to have a lot of experience to know what to add and what to remove," Chalayan said of his further-refined and honed in simplicity of this collection which loses none of the intellectual concept of his past work and now he can tread in quiet confidence that he doesn't need theatrics or drama to achieve his goal.