When folklore meets avant-garde, innovation and experiment merge to become fashion art, then Hussein Chalayan is not likely to be far away. The progressive fashion designer is, at the latest since his degree collection at the Central Saint Martin’s College recognized as a concept artist on both the fashion and art scenes. At that time, he buried his designs beneath the ground and only dug them up a couple of days before the presentation, in order to point out the theme of transience. And was promptly awarded the Absolute Design Award. He was awarded the title Designer of The Year in the British Fashion Awards twice in succession – in 1999 and 2000.
Chalayan experiments with architecture, anthropology and Zeitgeist and combines topical social themes with what is still his greatest passion – fashion. In his collections he usually uses the latest functional materials like neoprene or ethylene vinyl azetate foam, allows laser beams to shine from dresses, and occasionally even integrates even motor drives. His collections are always based on a clear concept which sometimes creates a trend. With his Spring/Summer collection 2007, he paved the way for a previously unknown futurism trend. His clothes, thereby, were given a kind of independent existence in that, for example, a delicate chiffon dress disappeared, as if by magic, under the hat of a model.
To this day, his best-known coup remains his collection of self-luminous LED dresses (Autumn/Winter 07/08) in cooperation with Swarovski. Their suitability for everyday wear remains debatable. It is, however, undisputed that Chalayan is the uncrowned king of inter discipline.
His current collection Autumn/Winter 13/14 was completely devoted to disembodiment and metamorphosis. The dichotomy of these phenomena which invariably associated with nature, fits in with the design language of the Chalayan fashion house: the collection makes use primarily of the area of home textiles (among others, fabric covers for sofas and cushions) and allows them to blend with clothes which convey the impression of evaporating – similar to the spirit which finally deserts the body.