It takes a lot to get noticed in the London fashion scene these days. With competition like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, one may have to scream -- or better yet whisper. It is this latter tactic that Hussein Chalayan has... [more]
It takes a lot to get noticed in the London fashion scene these days. With competition like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, one may have to scream -- or better yet whisper. It is this latter tactic that Hussein Chalayan has chosen. Sure, he's buried iron-studded dresses in the yard to get them rusty; he's made garments from paper, enclosed them in envelopes, and flown them as kites; but for the most part, Chalayan is pretty low-key. Described as fashion's "quiet maverick," he has established himself as one of London's most important experimental designers.
Chalayan was born in the Turkish community of Nicosia, Cyprus, in 1970. The island was no place for a future fashion star, so he moved to London to study design. There he quickly distinguished himself, capturing the prestigious Absolut design award in 1995, which secured him enough capital to produce a full collection later that year. Chalayan quickly became London's hot new property.
Before long he was hired to design for TSE Cashmere, the international purveyor of sweaters and knits. Chalayan's first TSE collection, shown in December 1998, caught critics off guard. He displayed garments with erratic seams that opened and closed, web-like collars that covered the mouth, and necklines that could be worn bound or unbound. These intricate, innovative pieces clashed with the traditionally commercial and conservative TSE image, causing speculation that Chalayan would not stay at the house long. But he has continued there, all the while refining his own label and contributing to Top Shop as well.
All this industry has paid off: Chalayan was named 1999's British Designer of the Year. The striking show he mounted for Spring/Summer 2000 suggests that he was worthy of the award. Robotic models in plastic skullcaps and tutus spun around a whitewashed room in a warped ballet, while dresses were rigged to inflate through the use of offstage controls.
Critics eagerly await Chalayan's next move. Rumors suggest he may relocate to Paris, but he doesn't seem to be in any hurry. London, after all, is giving him all the attention he needs. [show less]