It felt like Hussein Chalayan was getting impatient with the bombardment of questions coming at him after his show. "Did you enjoy it?" he asked one journalist. "That's the main thing." But when a man admits to creating a print inspired by "bacteria and ship parts" he's going to get grilled. And when he offers a presentation that is not particularly clear in its conceptuality, enquiring minds will quite obviously hound him to the grave.
A backdrop of abstract photographic images and cryptic texts created a series of scenarios into which Chalayan dropped his new collection. Take the first one: "No Dark No Light," read the text, against which he paraded strong, linear clothes with a color intensity sufficient to light the darkness. There was also an illuminating holographic accent. And right there, the pattern of the show was established.
In Chalayan's mind, the subsequent seemingly random texts and visuals underscored the fact that his collection had no theme. For the audience, untroubled by such considerations, it quickly became simply about the clothes. And one of the most fascinating things about Chalayan is that, for all his cerebral convolution, he is actually a designer who makes clothes that provocatively acknowledge the physical and the sensual. Here, there was one fawn shift, cut out to reveal a sinuous inner skin of holographic stretch, that was utterly simple but equally striking. Chalayan used palladium, an ore that is both strong and light, to create a neckpiece on a long-sleeve cocktail dress. Again, the creative impulse was cerebral, but the result was a graphically appealing, modern take on jewelry.
"I've been doing this for so long; a lot of it is instinctive," Chalayan said. On the runway, that translated as ease, confidence, and subtle strength. This from the man who made furniture walk!