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July 29 2014

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29 posts tagged "Hussein Chalayan"

On Our Radar: Steven Tai

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Steven Tai Spring '14

You may remember Steven Tai from Spring ’14′s VFiles show, where the 29-year-old Central Saint Martins graduate presented his crisp range of sporty, silkscreened looks. But winning a spot in the fashion platform’s debut runway event isn’t Tai’s only claim to fame. In fact, the talent, who’s based in London by way of Macao, had been making the rounds in Europe and Canada for over a year before the VFiles romp. In 2012, his visually simple but technically mind-boggling designs won the Chloe award at the prestigious Hyeres festival; he’s been invited to show everywhere from Berlin to Toronto; and he’s already amassed a healthy crop of international stockists, VFiles, Canada’s Holt Renfrew, and London’s 125 Brick Lane among them. Tai now seems poised for fashion stardom, so it’s somewhat ironic that he spent most of his childhood trying to escape the garment game.

“My family did manufacturing for very technical sportswear, like bicycle gear for triathlons,” Tai told Style.com by phone from Hong Kong, where he was researching techniques and textiles. “I grew up around seamstresses and, as a kid, clothing was like the last thing I wanted to do.” However, while earning his business degree in Canada, Tai had a revelation. “I realized that I wanted to do something creative, and at the same time, a friend actually introduced me to Style.com, and the archive just opened up this whole new world for me.”

Steven Tai Pre-Fall

He enrolled in London’s competitive Saint Martins’ BA program and, when the designer wasn’t in classroom, he did stints at Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Hussein Chalayan, and Damir Doma.

It’s easy to see that his mentors taught him well. Tai’s work is impeccably crafted using various, unexpected processes. For example, Spring ’14 incorporated laser cutting, silk screening, bonding, and puff paint accents, as well as a fractured pastoral motif. The latter was derived from photographs of a British bio-dome that were abstracted by artist Lola Dupré. “I’m always quite nostalgic for the past, so I wanted to start with something very traditional, and combine it with something technical and futuristic,” Tai explained of the lineup, which was inspired by cross-stitching and glitch art. As for his pared-down cuts, Tai offered, “At Saint Martins, nothing you can do is crazy enough. I learned from that, but it’s important to have a balance. Technology and textiles are the crazy parts of my collection. It’s all about these insane, complicated procedures, and the silhouette stays simple—otherwise, it gets a bit overwhelming.”

Fall ’14 will mark Tai’s first time presenting his wares in a Somerset House showroom at London fashion week. “The collection is a lot more deconstructed than last season,” he hinted. “The inspiration is shredded papers.” To tide fans over between the Spring and Fall drops, Tai has once again teamed up with Dupré, this time to create a range of Pre-Fall sweatshirts that will be available at select retailers and on Tai’s Web site this April. Priced between $296 and $740, the graphic, Swarovski crystal-embellished scuba jersey jumpers debut above, exclusively on Style.com.

Photos: Courtesy of Steven Tai

Isabella Blow: Beyond the Eccentric

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2. Isabella Blow, 2002 (c) Diego UchitelCurator Alistair O’Neill only met the late Isabella Blow once. He was at an art opening with designer Julien Macdonald, one of the late, great Blow’s charges, whom he studied with at the Royal College of Art. “Isabella was wearing a famous Philip Treacy hat, which is in the exhibition. It had feathers around the eyes, which covered her nose and her mouth and her forehead,” he recalled. “I spent the evening talking to her and was completely fascinated. But all that I could concentrate on were her eyes, because I couldn’t really see her mouth. I could only just about listen to what she was saying, and I was just mesmerized by this image of these eyes being framed by the feathers. The combination of her intelligence and her laughing was really intoxicating,” he continued. “I’ve never forgotten that.”

On November 20, O’Neill, along with Shonagh Marshall and Central Saint Martins, will aim to bring the editor, patron, and muse’s work and wardrobe to life with the opening of Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at the Somerset House in London. Before her tragic suicide, in 2007, Blow was a pillar of London’s emerging fashion community. Having worked everywhere—from British and American Vogue to The Sunday Times to Tatler—Blow is credited with discovering such designers as Alexander McQueen (as the story goes, she bought his entire graduate collection after it walked down the Central Saint Martins Runway in 1992), milliner Philip Treacy, Jeremy Scott, and Hussein Chalayan, as well as models Sophie Dahl (whom she once described as a “blow-up doll with brains”) and Stella Tennant.

Alexander McQueen and Isabella blow

Aside from being a steadfast supporter of young talents (Treacy and McQueen both lived with her at one point, and she not only gave the designers financial and editorial support but also fed them ideas from her wealth of historical knowledge—fashion and otherwise), Blow, who came from a complicated aristocratic background, was known as a great eccentric—both in her behavior and her dress. Her infamous wardrobe comprised the most extreme pieces by all of the conceptual up-and-comers she helped along the way. And, of course, Treacy’s hats were her screaming signature. Following her death, her sartorial collection was to be sold at Christie’s to settle her estate, but Blow’s friend Daphne Guinness swooped in at the last minute and purchased every piece, because that’s how Isabella—or Issy, as she was known—would have wanted it.

O’Neill, however, did not want to simply paint Blow as an eccentric. “I thought it was important to distance Isabella from those literary ideas of the English eccentric, because they’re often quite tragic,” he explained. “And I’m not sure Isabella was fully tragic—she was quite brave, and very funny. She had a very bored and black humor.” Furthermore, Blow always wore her outfits—whether it be a metallic McQueen corset or an ensemble crafted from brightly hued garbage bags—in a deeply considered manner. “Isabella used her clothes, her hats, and her accessories as a means to modify and transform herself,” said O’Neill. “She had a great eye for silhouette, and her hats were almost a means of plastic surgery for her face, without going under the knife,” added Marshall. “She said they can lift you, they can make you look different, and I think that was something that she really indulged in.” Continue Reading “Isabella Blow: Beyond the Eccentric” »

Rethinking Fabric With Bradley Quinn

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A look from Stretchable CircuitsThree central themes form the crux of Bradley Quinn’s new book Textile Visionaries: technology, sustainability, and innovation. The tome chronicles the work of thirty-six designers from disparate places around the world, each of whom shares a common interest in pushing the boundaries of textile design—and, subsequently, fashion and interiors—forward.

“For fashion to survive in the future, it has got to marry itself to other cultural forms,” Quinn told Style.com. One example is techno-fashion, which he calls a “dream collaboration” that speeds up the way technology can be applied, packaged, or sold. It’s a subject Quinn has been researching since the nineties, a time when designers like Hussein Chalayan would go to tech fairs to see what scientific devices he could make wearable.

“Since then, a dialogue has formed in which people who are designing the techy stuff now have objectives to make technology wearable, so their products will become seamlessly integrated into our lives,” Quinn explains. Below, the author highlights the top five textile visionaries of today, all of which he cites in Textile Visionaries, set to hit shelves on August 27. Continue Reading “Rethinking Fabric With Bradley Quinn” »

Christie’s Hosts Old Queens and New

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Alexander McQueenIn the age of Middleton mania, there’s no shortage of mythology (or obsession) surrounding what it means to be a queen.

On June 4, Christie’s will unveil a preview of new exhibition, A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion, and Chess, which, opening in October at the World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis, examines the principal monarch from a freshly cerebral perspective.

“It all started with the chess museum in Saint Louis,” relayed Swedish curator Sofia Hedman of the impending preview. “The idea is that each piece on the chessboard can be seen as a different personality, and the queen incorporates the different personalities a woman can have—the enchantress, the explorer, the ruler, the mother, and others.”

Rare pieces—Hussein Chalayan’s iconic bubble dress from Spring 2007, Maison Martin Margiela’s Spring 2001 vest made entirely from baseball gloves, and more than a few ornately embroidered gowns by Alexander McQueen (left)—are placed among lesser-known new works from “very, very unpredictable and very experimental” designers, like Charlie Le Mindu and Jordan Askill. Each touches on a different element of the regal persona, with plenty of reference to royal Dutch portraiture from the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Continue Reading “Christie’s Hosts Old Queens and New” »

Turkish Delight: Chalayan/Mavi’s Denim Capsule

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Hussein Chalayan is the consummate thinking girl’s designer. Last year, Turkish denim brand Mavi announced it was teaming with the cerebral clothier, who is of Turkish Cypriot heritage, for its first designer collaboration. “Jeans hold an important place in my life. They are like my second skin,” Chalayan told Style.com. “The collaboration was a chance to work with denim specialists—it wasn’t just about the fabric itself but also learning about the construction methods and machinery. And Mavi being Turkish was an added bonus.” Arriving in stores tomorrow, the twenty-one-piece capsule features dark-wash, high-stretch denim. Details such as mesh panels, elastic bands, and bonded tape give the ultra-slim stovepipes, hot shorts, and sheath dresses a decidedly sporty look (as creative director of Puma since 2008, Chalayan knows a thing or two about athletic apparel). “Mavi understood my ideas and worked hard to turn them into reality,” said Chalayan.

The Chalayan/Mavi collection ($160 to $200) will be available at Mavi stores and select retailers, including Brooklyn Industries, starting tomorrow.

Photos: Courtesy of Mavi