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.