This review could easily be dedicated to try to clearly explain what Songlines are — somewhat mystical lyrics that Aboriginals in Australia employ to map the world, and the main reference for Hussein Chalayan’s last few collections.
But the biggest takeaway from the fall show was that Chalayan sang. He stood there on the runway and sang four songs. The famously cerebral and occasionally taciturn designer wrote the lyrics and melodies, too. Let’s just pause for a moment and take that in. Wow.
He did a respectable job, backed by two major musicians: Mark Moore from S’Express and Dan Donovan, a founding member of Big Audio Dynamite.
In his show notes, Chalayan lamented that “we are living in an entitled, liquid era where any kind of pursuit is acceptable — without necessarily the training or skills.” So he gave himself license to switch roles from fashionmaker to song narrator.
His talents clearly lie in making clothes, with this latest collection hinged on clever cutting, with the pieces more likely than Chalayan’s tunes to stick in the head. Wonky seams added dollops of irregular volume to big pants, while cape effects were cleverly incorporated into tops and dresses.
Simple tabards in glossy fabrics gave a regal air to slim gowns. Turned 180 degrees to drape over the shoulders, those tabards transformed into loose crop tops with sleeves that could be worn buttoned closed or hanging loose.
Chalayan’s fashion skills are still Top 40.