Impersonating a forlorn waiter proffering Champagne at an art gallery party, Hussein Chalayan played the role to the hilt, unmoved as patrons/models in this installation-cum-show paraded an exhilarating sweep of his fashion repertoire.

Rarely have the London-based designer’s conceptual ideas — however spellbinding on a runway — been portrayed in such wearable, real-life terms. His retrospective exhibition, currently at Les Arts Decoratifs, had been distilled into what he dubbed a “modern wardrobe.” Deep armholes, futuristic porthole cutouts, folkloric flourishes and airplane references — Chalayan signatures all — were sketched out in minimalist garments.

The designer opened the show with oversize blazers, each with an element of swag, via slit or pleated backs or a languid scarflike lapel. Caped backs and shirttail hems kept a suite of shift and sheath dresses interesting, as did prints that nodded to past collections, including intricate cave etchings and embroidered Turkish florals, here smudged à la Gerhard Richter.

“It’s really about past and present,” Chalayan said backstage, still in his waiter getup. “I like the idea that it’s day-to-evening. Maybe she can go from work to a gallery, and then she can maybe go out further. I like these in-between purpose clothes, which I find quite relevant right now.”

Enough work, Hussein. Pour yourself a glass.

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