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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Audi Fashion Festival Closing - Hussein Chalayan

_MG_2089 Hussein Chalayan FW13 Hussein Chalayan FW13 ii Hussein Chalayan FW13 iii Hussein Chalayan FW13 iv Hussein Chalayan FW13 v _MG_2053
Amazing. If I could sum up the Hussein Chalayan show and his entire body of work, that would be the word that I would choose. And I mean it in every sense of the word. Hussein Chalayan is one of the pivotal designers who has opened up my field of thought to look at fashion differently. His earlier works from 2000 - 2007 were very avant garde, and frequently the clothes each season were meant to represent a concept - such as the body anatomy, family and war, and such. He was known was the designer who created the groundbreaking showpieces such as the convertible table and chairs (into clothes), and the mechanical dress which could contract and retract with the control of a remote to represent a historical evolution of fashion. I encountered his design in close up detail when I was lucky enough to catch his retrospective exhibition in Les Arts Decoratifs when I was in Paris 2 years ago.

For his latest FW13 collection, you can observe that his designs are definitely much more ready to wear, steering away from his more avant garde designs in his earlier years. During the Asia Fashion Summit, Mr. Colin McDowell had conducted a dialogue with Hussein Chalayan, and he reflected that he is going slightly more commercial to reach out to a wider audience. His biggest dream is to have his own standalone store - which I find very shocking given that he has already been designing for more than a decade. Investors nowadays are always buying up heritage brands or backing up designers with a commercial appeal.

The show opened with a few very simple looks of black coats and wide leg pants that were cut straight with exaggerated cuffs. The androgynous silhouettes made it hard to distinguish the sexuality of the model, if not for their exposed faces. Everyday wear such as a sweater was made ribbed, leather biker jacket was padded and quilted and well executed. It progressed to dresses made from iridescent organza fabrics in varied painterly brushstrokes, glistening as if wet paint as the models strut down the runway. Also notable was the 3D texture laid onto the organza, which resembled dried peeling paint.

But what stole the show were the three "transformer" dresses. With a violent tug at the neckline, the models transformed their cocktail length number into a long silk evening gown, drawing gasps from the audience. The dresses were not only practical as a transition from day to night, but it also led me to question how we judge fashion by first appearance, instead of examining the insides and learning the appreciate the details and work that goes into making a beautiful dress.

At the end of the show, I couldn't help but just marvel at his genius and how he continues to push the boundaries of conventional fashion.

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