Hussein Chalayan

Phew! So here goes my mammoth post on the Chalayan exhibition.

Especially for those of you who are not in London anytime soon here is a run down of most of the exhibition.

I was quite unsure whether pictures were permitted at the exhibition and then I quickly realised that all the visitors seemed to be carrying hefty DLSRs and there really was no turning back…I got pretty snap happy!

Tangent Flows, S/S 09

I’m not sure what the dress is made from but it looked as though something was poured onto the surface of the dress, creating something that looked both natural and ancient.


Inertia S/S 09

‘Inertia’ is Chalayan’s most recent collection and was quite striking as you walked into the first room. These consisted of moulded dresses. He is playing with the idea of speed and technology in our lives which lead to an inevitable crash. He represents this here, through cars. From a car to the crash where the windscreen become components of the dress. The ultimate event of the crash represented through the body. A moment of time…of speed. A frozen movement. These dresses are amazing up close. They look so solid it was strange to realise that they were somewhat wearable garments.


Panoramic A/W 98

The main idea of this collection was creating icons that were unable to be defined through language. The idea was based on the the loss of identity through the limitations of language. Chalayan came up with clothes that were difficult to define. Some look like they are partly ethnic, some like insects. They whole point was that they were strange to behold and that they were a hybrid of sorts.


Before Minus Now S/S 2000

This collection explored the relationships between mankind, technology and natural forces. These dresses which began as bales of shapeless tulle which were gradually cut away to create the regular dress shape. Chalayan was inspired by the way mountains are shaped by years of erosion and tectonic thrusts. Therefore the original bale of tulle was manipulated into these desired dress shapes. These were really beautiful and also looked so heavy and dense!




Kinship Journeys A/W ’03

These mannequins represented a collection where the runway show featured a trampoline, a confessional and a coffin shaped boat. Each of these can be seen drawn onto the mirrors in front of each mannequin and the elements are inspired by Roman Catholicism. In the show, a model bounced on the trampoline in attempt to reach the divine which represented hope. Salvation was also referenced where skirts exploded into inflatable life jackets. I really wish I got to see the life jacket-dress in full working order…but I was left to imagine how useful the life jacket dress would be if I was ever in mortal peril. Which was just as fun.


Ambimophous A/W 02

The follow is a series of images displayed in a light box. “The process of intervention” as Chalayan aptly put it and shows Turkish costume that morphs into a coat and a dress. This looks at western influences on some parts of the world. which is represented through the ‘western’ coat that changes shape and form. I love the second to last ‘morph’ where the fragments of the Turkish costume can be seen especially around the wrists, this was the penultimate dress before the final, shredded dress on the far right. This was represented in a linear fashion but you can read it any way but the origins of the image is the Turkish costume in the centre.


Geotropics S/S ’99

Film is an important element in Chalayan’s work and featured a couple of times in his exhibition. These mannequins were placed in front of an animation based on displacement and travelling. The designs were based on the idea of moving from one place to another and so subtle changes were visible between each design. The finale of this collection a garment integrated with a chair.


I just wanted to include a close up of one of the mannequins. The mannequins that Chalayan had chosen to use were incredibly lifelike. It surprised me that they were both featureless but yet seemed to have so much personality. I suppose this reflected well in the garments that were on display.


Manifest/Destiny S/S ’03

This collection looks at how clothes are viewed in the developed world, particularly this idea of liberation from the western traditions. This also plays with the idea of Intervention and the culture of disgust. Layers of material represent the layers of skin,which were all a different colour and had holes cut in different areas which represented different organs of the body. I particularly liked how each layer was actually made from ready made tops, each had different buttons, patterns and colours. Definitely sent lots of strange DIY projects rushing through my head.


Genometrics A/W ’05

This idea was based on the idea of how different individuals living in London would fit into London life depending on their DNA sequences and how they react against the London soundscape. Images made from this programme were frozen at certain points and their shapes created the basis of the design. As you can see, there are chromosome patterns on his hooded jacket. It looks super heavy doesn’t it? It looked a lot like thick, woollen carpet.

Temporal Meditations S/S ’04

Contemplating history of Cyprus history which is where Chalayan’s family are originally from. Chalayan was exploring territory and how genetic paths are used in order to justify identity. The print on the dress features Venetian Ottomans fighting near Swimming pools and Chalayan liked how the idea was completely ridiculous and represents how history is viewed in today. He thought that it would be interesting to use it like a Hawaiian print on this dress which was amazingly ruched, pleated and had that amazing collar.



Airborne A/W ’07

This collection was based on the life cycle and how it links to the seasons in that it constantly renews and recreates. These dresses were filled with air and It points to flight, to movement which reflects the cycle of both the seasons and the life cycle.

The Spring and Summer section of his collection featured this amazing LED dress which featured 15,600 LEDS which were combined with crystal displays which point to the idea of vitality and new life. I’m actually pretty pleased with how this photo turned out…

Readings S/S ’08

These dresses were spectacular. I played with the images on photoshop and It was interesting to see the patterns and angles made by the lasers. This collection was based on the idea of celebrity status/sun worship. Represented through the laser spectacle and the idea that celebrity status is not dissimilar to sun worship.



One Hundred and Eleven S/S ’07

The final part of the exhibition was a video of his full runway show from S/S ’07.
This documented his vision of the last 111yrs of fashion. The idea of Social atmosphere affecting the way we dress. This was shown in a sequential presentation from the Victorian era ending in modern day, mechanical dresses. Morphing from one era to another illustrating change. I’m sure many of us remember this collection quite well. It was a lot of fun to watch all the way through! and made so many people smile in suprise. You can still see the photos here or even better there is a short video on style.com. Definitely click it and see for yourselves and try and stop yourself from smiling in amazement at the mechanical dresses. It’s impossible- especially the one with the fringing that falls into place on one of the dresses!

I was really excited to see this exhibition and it didn’t disappoint and worth the pricy £8.50 to get in (however if you’re lucky enough to be a student it’s only a fiver) The Chalayan Exhibition is running until 17th May and nothing beats seeing every thing up close and personal. Be sure to check it out if you’re in London!

**edit. I updated the link on the video as I linked the wrong one!

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