CHALAYAN IS BACK IN BUSINESS

Byline: James Fallon

LONDON — It’s back to business as usual for Hussein Chalayan.
The British designer is skipping the runway this season but has started a new company and will conduct appointments during the Paris collections at the CVDC showroom on Rue Saint Honore. The move follows Chalayan’s decision in December to put his previous company, Cartesia, into voluntary liquidation after it built up debts of more than $1.5 million.
“My company is back on track,” Chalayan said in an exclusive interview with WWD four days before he left for Paris. “The liquidation was voluntary and was a planned thing because we couldn’t carry on the way things were before. Now I feel everything is back on its feet.”
Chalayan, who is considered one of the most talented young conceptual designers around today, had been looking for backing for Cartesia for most of last year. He held discussions with most of the world’s leading luxury goods groups — including LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada and Pegasus Apparel Group — but none of the talks led to a deal.
The designer said he now is in negotiations with several companies about potential investment or backing, but he declined to provide details. Chalayan, who designed the women’s line for Tse until his contract expired late last year, also said he is in talks about several potential consultancy contracts.
“There are a lot of options,” the designer said. “I have a new company and my team is still here. The question now is what else I can do.”
His immediate aim is to build his sales for fall. Chalayan delivered his spring collection and said his fall line is “a big portion of what I was planning to do anyway but without as many of the elaborate pieces as I would like.”
Chalayan has always been a designer who incrementally develops his ideas from one season to the next and he’s followed the same path for fall. Over the last few seasons, his focus has been on volume via draping or ruffles, contrast stitching, prints and fabric insets.
The main change for fall has been a further relaxation of the silhouette he’s shown for the last few seasons, he indicated.
“Parts of it are more fluid with more draping,” Chalayan said. “But it’s still graphic. It’s also more tailoring-based than usual.”
Fall fabrics include sheepskin, wool, a special jacquard Chalayan developed, “a lot of duchesse satin mixed with georgette” and denim, which has been one of the designer’s strong points over the last few seasons.
But Chalayan is driven by concepts. While the collection he’ll sell in Paris doesn’t convey all the ideas he has for fall, Chalayan said he’ll complete it once he returns to London. The plan is then to photograph it, with hopes of exhibiting or otherwise displaying the photos at some point in the future.
Meanwhile, he’s already thinking about spring. “That collection is going forward and the plans for producing it have been made final,” Chalayan said confidently. “We’re already thinking about the immediate future, which is another reason why I didn’t want to do a show this season. We’re spending a lot of time planning for the future and we will show next season. I don’t know whether it will be in London, but I don’t see a reason why it shouldn’t be.”