Short, sexy, and body-consciousyou would imagine the intellectual Hussein Chalayan would rather die than have those three adjectives attached to his clothes. Yet they are the only words to describe his latest collection, from the scrolled curves of the white skirtsuit that opened the show to the multistrap bra-topped dresses that ended it.
Cleaned-up and pared-down are two of the emerging buzz phrases of the season, and Chalayan's radar has clearly tuned in to that frequency. But his intelligence has also locked on to the fact that today's minimalism can't be a rehash of the nineties. Instead, he's working out a curvilinear, sculptural, sometimes 3-D alternative, one that happens to make an excellent foil for a great body.
A white cut-out dress, bare at the waist and embroidered and embossed with vine leaves, was one example. Others were the dresses that suspended scarflike prints from heavy-duty black bras. Something in all this triggered memories of early Versacea source many young designers are beginning to ransack in London, where Chalayan lives. That burst of inspiration has put him on a new track and, apparently, in a new, lightened-up mood. At the end of his show, he kindly provided anyone worried about where these clothes would be worn with a visual clue: a short blue dress with nightclub ropes bound into it.