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A foretaste of the impressing parisian retrospective exhibition of the Cyprus creator

The Arts Décoratifs Museum hosts until November 13, 2011 an impressing retrospective exhibition of Hussein Chalayan. An essential must-see at this back-to-school time of the year.

Based on a complex set design, carefully orchestrated on two thematic floors (the 1st one underlines the question raised by cultural, political, religious, geographical boundaries, while the 2nd one dives into movement, body, speed, time and space...) this exhibition showcases how diverse the Cyprus creator's works are. Enabling to decipher his distinctive process, often perceived as too complex and experimental.

Born in 1970, trained and established in London, Hussein Chalayan is one of the most innovative and creative fashion designers of our time. His work, recognized yet rarely understood, keeps on extending fashion's boundaries further. By questioning the world that surrounds us (interactions between man/Nature, tradition/modernity, cultural identities, immigration...), his works stand on the frontier of fashion, architecture and design, characterized by research and collaborations with scientists, musicians, anthropologists or engineers.

Going further than the attempt to make Hussein Chalayan's rich, conceptual exploration accessible without denaturing it, the exhibition pays a tribute to the creator's talent for storytelling, and his true drama genius, demonstrated in his spectacular and unexpected staging of collections. Some true fashion stories shaped as cultural happenings, far from other studios' worn-out parades. ''Art total''to be savored like reading a book or watching a movie. Here's a short selection.

AFTERWORDS, autumn-winter 2000 

Inspired by the fleeing of refugees and the horrors of war displacements, Afterwords refers to the ethnic cleansing suffered by the Turks in Cyprus right before the Island was divided in 1974. With this collection, Chalayan explores the reactions of people faced with war, uprooting, the need to hide their goods or carry them along their exodus.

First, in white minimalist space, set up as a living room: four chairs, one table, one flatscreen, one drawer full of objects. Then comes a family, mother, father, grandmother and two daughters.

photos © www.husseinchalayan.com

Models come then forward, by the back door, dressed in apparently simple clothes. They start handling, one after the other, the objects present in the room, putting them back in their specifically designed pockets.

photos © www.husseinchalayan.com

Then models dressed in grey dresses come in, taking off the chair's covers to wear them.

photos © www.husseinchalayan.com

One last model penetrates a wooden table into its center, unfolding it around her legs and waist into a skirt. Armchairs folded become suitcases, models leave the stage. The white room is left empty and lifeless...

photos © www.husseinchalayan.com


ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN, spring-summer 2007

For this collection, in collaboration with Swarowski who then celebrated its 111 years (hence the collection's name), Chalayan drew inspiration from world events, including wars, revolutions, political and social changes, and the way they have shaped fashion during almost a century.

With One hundred and eleven, Chalayan takes the morphing concept further (concept started with the Mapreading autumn-winter 2001 collection). He creates a series of mechanical dresses, that transform themselves in a strobe into a typical style, from one era to another. 

photos © www.husseinchalayan.com

All-in-one clothes, like living fashion history demonstrating the various movements that shaped the 20th century...

photos © www.husseinchalayan.com