PARIS — Count on Hussein Chalayan to bring a conceptual and architectural edge to couture week with his debut today at Vionnet, parading a demi-couture range that incorporates laser cutting and electrical wires.
This story first appeared in the January 21, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I see beauty in industrial corners and blind spots,” the designer said in front of an inspiration board showing a curved staircase, demolished walls and tubular, corallike beading.
The evening-focused collection is to include bias-cut column dresses in multiple layers of organza, and futuristic gowns that exalt the patternmaking of couture, the markings on muslins embroidered by hand.
Chalayan has more in common with founder Madeleine Vionnet than one might expect: Like the late designer, he drapes fabrics on small bust forms to invent new shapes and proportions.
“You can’t draw certain things. You have to make them and then draw them,” he explained.
He’s also a fan of seamlessness. “I’ve spent a lot time in the past getting rid of seams,” said Chalayan, a London-based designer of Turkish Cypriot origin who founded his label in 1993.
His arrival at Vionnet coincides with a development push by chairwoman and creative director Goga Ashkenazi, who disclosed plans to establish a Paris hub for the heritage brand that would encompass a store and a mini-museum or library.
She is also scouting for locations in New York and London, and plans to relocate the Milan store.
“I wanted someone who could give this project all the attention it deserves,” said Ashkenazi, who acquired Vionnet in 2012 from Matteo Marzotto. “He’s very talented and inspiring, and I’ve learned a lot from him,” she added of Chalayan.
Demi-couture, which requires only one fitting, is priced from about 3,000 euros to 30,000 euros, or about $4,000 to $40,000 at current exchange.