The saying "I've become part of the furniture" sprang to mind at Hussein Chalayan's show. Not that it meant you could be overlooked while wearing his clothes: How could you be, in a jacket whose rolled, stuffed-leather collar was a chunk of padding, lifted directly from a gentlemen's club armchair? This opening image, however, turned out not to be an overture to a presentation of disconcerting conceptualism: Chalayan has grown out of that. His collection still showed its intellectual roots, but it was full of things that a smart woman will want to wear this fall.
Chalayan aficionados know that he's incorporated parts of fighter-plane seats, wooden coffee tables, and carpets into clothes before. This time, however, he abstracted his comfortable upholstery componentsand the polished surfaces of Victorian sideboardsinto beautiful clothes that don't demand too much cerebral heavy lifting. Those exaggerated collars, for a start, happen to interlock neatly with the season's obsession with swathed, built-up necklines; the short, waisted coats below them are also sharply in step with fashion. Add to that Chalayan's double-wedge boots (whose soles suggested the rubber stops of a computer desk) and his use of plush velvet quilting and nail-head studding: all personal interpretations of current trends.
In the end, what matters is that Chalayan's methodology can produce such right-on silhouettes as a leather-collared tweed blouson with a pleated mini-kilt, or his light-handed, pretty dress made of paneled, wood-grain-printed silk. Definitely not designed for women who want to blend into the domestic background.