Hussein Chalayan

Is fashion art? This is a very difficult question, which everyone involved in fashion will answer in a different way. But what I have tried to show on this blog very often is how fashion is interlinked with other artistic – or at least creative – disciplines, from photography to fine arts, from design to sculpture.

In the case of Turkish designer Hussein Chalayan, it is more a matter of what discipline is it really, because he is undeniably an artist. And most of his work is so innovative and conceptual that it is not meant to be worn, but is born as a creation, a blend of fashion, art and design.

As he explains in an interview with ShowStudio: ‘Of course I like to push boundaries but I’m absorbed with the idea often so I’m trying to just do what I have in mind and it does what it does. But it’s not for the sake of pushing to boundaries, it’s really an idea that forms and has its own life and just has to happen.’

And while I feel a rush of adrenaline and excitement when I watch a fashion show, I am often left a little disappointed with many fashion exhibitions which just display clothes on still mannequins. And there I think, why not go to the boutique, it is more lively and I can touch them and try them on at least.

However, I have seen a few extraordinarily curated fashion exhibitions recently, including Viktor and Rolf at the Barbican or Hussein Chalayan at the Design Museum. I will not attempt to describe the extensive diplay of his 15 years of work exhibited (including clothes but also videos and inspirations). ‘It’s very different from a fashion show, because it’s an event that is over in ten minutes. To see the clothes in a different concept and on the mannequins that are engaging with the space, it’s a whole different thing.’

From a table turning into a skirt, a dress consisting of Swarovski crystals and over 15,000 flickering lights and remote-controlled garments, it was a very interactive show more than a mere display. ‘Portable architecture and furniture’ and ‘cultural identity’ were key concepts which show the complexity of Hussein’s work and lead to a reflection on society and the actual role of garments.

Not even just art anymore, but philosophy.

Pictures: Left: Vogue UK, December O8, picture by Nick Knight. Right: Dazed and Confused, February 09, picture by Mel Bles.

Check Hussein Chalayan’s blog.

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8 Responses to “Hussein Chalayan”

  1. Can’t you just taste the passion of Hussein Chalayan to make a mark in history? I love when fashion designers consider geometry, architechture, fine art, physics… I feel that there’s more depth to the art of fashion, other than making clothes to make money.

    Hey hey everytime I go by Paul’s it reminds me of you, and I keep trying to remember what you wanted me to have and I keep forgetting ๐Ÿ˜› you better point it out next time with your purdy fingers!! I’m leaving london on the 24th, we should meet up! ๐Ÿ˜€ good lucky with essay, they generally go well after around 4am…but you should take a nap in between hehe.

  2. I definitely do think that fashion is a form of art. And history!

    Hussein Chalayn is definitely the artistic, creative genius of unconventionality – his shows always exemplify art and fashion at a common ground.

    Loooove your writing!

    Parisian love & chocolate croissants (not authentic, but close enough ;] ),
    La C.

  3. Gah, so wish I could have gone to the Design Museum exhibition. I have always thought of fashion, in terms of the shows especially, as art. The most obvious are the Couture shows – pure displays of design and art. They are to be watered down and adapted by those lucky few who can buy the pieces outright. It is the raw art of fashion, more a concept than it is clothing, indeed if is at all the latter.

    Humans have always sought to adorn their bodies, and seek out individuality. We have never clothed ourselves out of pure necessity. The earliest humans painted their bodies, or wore masks, or jewelry, admittedly most often for religious purposes, but still as a form of art.

    I like to think of a dress or garment as a piece of ‘potentially functional’ art, until someone actually wears them. Whilst on the mannequin, they give the idea of a concept, the clothing has no meaning until someone wears it and gives it one.

    I often think of fashion as a two way relationship, between the clothing and the wearer. Admittedly you can argue that there is also the silent interlocutor of the outside viewer also. Without all of the elements, the clothing is simply visual art. It has no life, no purpose and is not able to fulfil the shape it was crafted to follow.

    I love Chalayan’s work because he really does tackle fashion from all those sides. You get a feeling that the clothes are made to look stunning on the hanger, or on a flat surface. They can be looked over, held in your hands and truly appreciated. At the same time, they are also designed with a body in mind, he really does understand the subtle curves and shapes of a woman. Lastly, he also understands how it will look to others once that person wears the clothing. He shows an understanding of all three parts of the puzzle, as I like to see it.

  4. Fashion is an art, at least the way Chalayan works with it. What he does is truly amazing, inspiring and, (what can be even the most difficult thing) always surprising!

  5. Shini: Oh Gosh I made it through the deadlines, but still not sure how.. I skipped the nap though. Chalayan will leave a mark in the history of fashion, you’re right. x
    Oh and that’s the apple & almond tart you NEED to try at Paul! Hopefully we’ll have one together soon!
    La C.: I agree with you! I love this idea of chocolate croissants but it’s not actually very French (sounds like pure sin! and why are these comments more about food than fashion haha, so me!) I guess we have pain au chocolat instead, it’s enough! x
    Dapper Kid: I completely agree with you about Couture. I think Chalayan’s clothes are indeed meant to be worn, or put into a context, a story. And that’s what he did with the exhibition. Hopefully there’ll be more to come! x
    Tamara: You’re very right! It’s hard to always surprise as a designer. But I like as, how Chalayan put it, it’s not for the sake of it. Classic pieces can be inspiring too.

  6. This man is amazing. His clothes don’t just push the boundaries of fashion and art, but pure innovation and imagination.

  7. Hussein Chalayan is just crazy… and I love it! Doesn’t surprise me you’re writting an article about him ๐Ÿ˜‰ I really love his creations, he is one of the few designers who have their own approach of Fashion, mixing pure design and his love for Fashion (I fell in love with his mechanical dresses)!

    Great job baby!

  8. The Clothes Horse: Agreed. This is way more than fashion, and defies the stereotypes attached to fashion, which is great.
    Galla: I know, what a fantastic mix! And that’s for sure: he has a voice, a vision, and is not one to follow trends or be inspired by other designers, this is what a artist, a creator is all about. x

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