Hussein Chalayan: Celebrating 25 years of Fashions 'Big Thinker'
It was 1993 and the Annual Showcase of graduate talent. A series of buried garments that were resurrected from the ground made their way down the catwalk, their disintegrated form, and embellished coating of rust taking the original ‘earthy’ to new extremes. At this moment the world saw the beginning of an icon: the one and only Hussein Chalayan. Known for his incredibly innovative and experimental approach to fashion, Chalayan has been making fashion history for 25 years since the launch of his label in 1994. Taking a trip down memory lane, we will be celebrating some of our favorite Chalayan moments and his achievements over this period.
The thought of wearing our furniture seems unfathomable...until Chalayan’s Fall collection of 2000 that is. The show’s Grand Finale stunned the audience when four models transformed living room furniture into dresses. Chairs of simple grey covering were undressed and placed on the body, while the remaining frames were morphed into briefcases. When the final model appeared, she stepped into the coffee table and hooked a piece of furniture around her waist. Standing in her wooden skirt transformation, the audience applauded in awe. A technical mystery, it is safe to say that many were left speechless.
Chalayan’s combination of aesthetics and technology has advanced throughout his career. In the Spring/Summer of 2007 Chalayan again subverted the traditional catwalk show, displaying a series of garments that mechanically transformed into different silhouettes. A high-neck Victorian-style dress blooms open; its movement resembling that of a delicate flower. Several other dresses in the collection display their versatility as they shorten at the hem or grow outwards. Notorious for a Grand Finale, the collection ends with a dress that completely disappears, as if by magic. If anyone was going to bring magic to the catwalk it was going to be Chalayan.
Chalayan Spring/Summer 2007 from Chalayan Youtube
Although the Fall collection of 2007 seemed slightly more subtle with a greater emphasis on everyday looks, that touch of Chalayan magic was still evident. In collaboration with Swarovski, a captivating LED light-up dress was exhibited, illuminating as the model made her way down a darkened catwalk. This seemingly simple silhouette was intricately layered with Swarovski crystals and 15,600 LED lights, which once again mesmerised the audience with the unexpected.
Chalayan’s work can still be appreciated for its beautiful design. For Spring 2020 Chalayan’s collection consists of some timeless styles with elegant silhouettes, block colours and classic stripes and checks. Some of the dresses concealed the face of the wearer, channeling Chalayan’s usual penchant for the unconventional.
Chalayan has proven himself to be an unstoppable creative, and we truly believe in his capability to bring any idea to life however adventurous it may be. Over the last 25 years, Chalayan has created some artistic masterpieces that challenge the boundaries between technology and fashion, making a distinctive and stand out brand. We can only wonder what his next collection will behold, but we are sure it will be outstanding. Words by Brooke Savino
Graphics by Latisha Fleckenstien