January 10, 2013 London
So far, so ethereal. And so very in keeping with Chalayan's longtime reputation for impenetrability. But that was scarcely the whole story here, because Hussein Chalayan has undergone a sea change. "I was more textbook in the old days," he agrees, "but now my communication with my customer is more straightforward. People understand my particular talent for precision tailoring." In other words, disembodied spirits and butterfly wings, beautiful though they may have been, took a backseat to Chalayan's ability to create elegantly body-conscious dresses, jackets, and coats. His sinuous, almost hourglass seaming was one giveaway. "Luxury mixed with an urban element"—Chalayan's own description—seemed appropriate for a three-quarter-sleeve black jacket whose curving volumes suggested haute couture. But it simultaneously had the sloppy ease of a tracksuit top. The designer's version of a leather biker jacket mastered the same surreal straddle between salon and street.