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fashion week round ups: chalayan 

Sam Fitzgibbon 

On Saturday Hussein Chalayan showed a womenswear collection in London for the first time in sixteen years. The decision to return home from Paris (the designer is a graduate of the Saint Martin’s MA course and showed in London until 2000) was typically irreverent; while a recent criticism of the London shows has been the haemorrhaging of designers to Paris, Pitti and elsewhere, Chalayan remains calmly tenacious.

The collection, as always, showed the same quality – recent trends (think saturated colours and ultra boxy cuts) were disregarded. The early pieces comprised rich earth tones on bulbous, cocooned silhouettes. The stiffness of some materials, carefully tailored into peaks and slopes, combined with the delicate drapery of others added dimensionality to the minimalist collection. Later pieces demonstrated the influence of Regency era men’s travel-wear in the form of re-imagined tricorn hats, cropped capes and padded breeches. Entirely in black, the next run of looks found an improbable yet beautiful intersection between bicycle courier, ninja and matador. Further still into the 42-piece collection, delicate satins, miraculously shaped into the same sloping silhouettes thanks to Chalayan’s masterful tailoring, took the place of the heavy felts.

Retaining that shape, the flatly coloured fabrics gave way to a stark black and white triangular jacquard. At the show’s conclusive and, given the location, fittingly theatrical climax these were torn open by the models, spilling streams of tinsel, feathers and coins. The designer’s fame and importance in the industry were proven by the presence of current fashion students, who having been allotted 300 free tickets queued from 6am to get into the venue.

Images, Vogue:

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