Hussein Chalayan's reputation as fashion's brooding conceptualist has been belied for some time by the lightness and charm of the clothes he actually designs. And charmas in "lucky"was indeed the operative word for his spring 2006 menswear collection.
Chalayan called it "Touch Wood," and rounded up a global grab-bag of motifs relating to good luck and fortune-telling. A shirt was embellished with tiny fabric knots recalling the Japanese practice of omijuku (you literally tie your wish into a curtain in a temple); a swallow print echoed the Chinese belief that the flight of that bird brings good news; the pocket on another shirt had a tiny square of wood attached, with an embroidered invitation to touch it (as in the English and German tradition of wishing for good luck). And a track suit came with four-leaf clover embroidery.
Backgammon and chessboard prints not only extended the riffing on chance, but also reflected another of Chalayan's frequent themes, that of movement (a shirt that turns into a travel chessboardnow there's a blend of form and function). The dusty colors and vintage feel of the clothes were part of the conceptthey were supposed to look handed down, in the same way that superstitions are handed down from generation to generation. Chalayan also continued his signature experiments with form and fabric: denims featured twisted seams and irregular pockets to de-emphasize their mass-produced origins; lapels were stitched down like origami; and a touch of iron in suiting fabric created an intriguingly tough, crinkled effect. All put together, it worked likewhat else?a charm.