While Hussein Chalayan was describing the thought process that shaped his Pre-Fall collection—the endeavor to abstract the physicality of a journey from one point to another into clothing—an image of Marcel Duchamp compressing dimensions into his revolutionary painting Nude Descending a Staircase sprang irresistibly to mind. Chalayan is tireless in his efforts to make fashion express the creative fury in his head, to turn fabric into philosophy. The fact that he succeeds as often as he does is testament more to his skill as a designer than his ability as a communicator. He acknowledged as much when he admitted, "The theories are for me, to help me simplify ideas for clothes so I can make a more inspired collection."
Here, for example, he was talking about the journey beginning indoors, in a cozy domestic space, a notion that translated into an incredible Shar Pei-like cocoon of fake fur. The outside world asserted itself in a coat of angora, mohair, and wool, collaged like a distressed urban wall. "Architectural layers," Chalayan called them. And, in something of a conceptual leap, the designer visualized makeup as a layer for the body, in a print made up of a jumble of cosmetic palettes. It was beautiful.
That's always the thing with Chalayan. All the arcane personal theorizing is capable of producing clothes that make a direct, graphic, seductive appeal to the senses. He knows how to add just the right amount of flattering structure to slouchy, sexy clothes. Here they were. There's always time for a second look.