Hussein Chalayan Shows A New Image Of The Body
[Part 2 below]
We’ve seen what avant-garde British fashion designer Hussein Chalayan can do with technology and clothing—we’ll never forget that feeling of awe and fascination when we first saw his S/S 2007 line of animatronic dresses (which zipped, flipped and reconfigured right before our eyes), or the pixelated LED dresses from F/W 2007 and the laser dresses from S/S 2008, the latter two of which were made in collaboration with Creator Moritz Waldemeyer.
Then again, perhaps it comes as no surprise that in the forward-thinking world of fashion, designers would be experimenting with technology. After all, as Chalayan says, “Technology is really the only thing through which you can do new things.”
What we hadn’t seen Chalayan explore in his shows before is how technology can be used to enhance the presentation of garments, and in this case, as a mechanism to literally “show a new image of the body.” For his S/S 2012 presentation in Paris this September, The Creators Project collaborated with the fashion mogul in order to shake things up a bit.
We caught up with the designer and his fashion show director Alex de Betak who talked us though the visual trickery that was to roll out on the runway the day of the presentation. Chalayan’s inspiration centered around the idea of self-image, so his engineer Robert Davis rigged tiny battery-powered wireless cameras with tilt switches inside champagne flutes, which when tipped 15 degrees, would light up and capture the inside of the models’ mouths.
Dressed as a waiter during the show (a move Style.com dubbed Hitchcock-esque), Chalayan passed out the camera-rigged flutes to each model as they sashayed down the runway, creating an intimate gallery-esque setting where his models appeared to be looking at art while mingling and drinking champagne. (If only seeing yourself in artwork was always this easy!). The voyeuristic audience watched the models become the focal point, in a sort of unexpected way, as their lips, teeth and throats were projected onto the canvas behind the runway in real time.
The clothing, mostly monochromatic, structured garments with curved asymmetrical silhouettes, jazzed up with a few fun prints here and there, found the happy medium between traditional and contemporary. Ruffles poured through a slit in a sheath dress, boxy cutouts accentuate (or allude to) a model’s curves, and capes and veils made a subtle comeback.
With this collection Chalayan blurred the line between art and fashion, giving us a runway presentation that could have been confused with performance art, and successfully created a new environment for showcasing the clothing. Watch the behind-the-scenes prep in Part 1 of our documentary above and witness the fashion show for yourself in Part 2 below.
View the entire Hussein Chalayan S/S 2012 Sip collection here.