Tomorrow Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris will open an exhibition that surveys Hussein Chalayan's practice over the last 16 years; from his iconic remote controlled dress to a wooden skirt he made that can also be constructed into a coffee table.
In 1993 Hussein Chalayan debuted his graduate collection from Central Saint Martins. It was entitled Tangent Flows and consisted of oxidised garments that he buried in his garden for three months and then dug up. This work marked the beginning of his fascination with unconventional materials and shortly after he founded the Chalayan brand. Tomorrow Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris will open an exhibition that surveys the designer's practice over the last 16 years: from his iconic remote controlled dress to a wooden skirt he made that can also be constructed into a coffee table. Throughout his career Chalayan has explored how technology could create new possibilities in fashion and the show will examine the innovative use of video and installations within his runway shows. To coincide with the retrospective, Rizzoli have published a monograph of Chalayan’s work, which will include contributions by AnOther Fashion Features Director Susannah Frankel and Sarah Mower. AnOther spoke to Hussein Chalayan before the opening to discuss the exhibition and his ongoing curiosity.
How does it feel looking back at the work in this exhibition?
This exhibition is an edit of works from the last 16 years. Many of the pieces have already been show at Groninger Museum, Wolfsburg Museum, Design Museum, Tokyo Museum of Modern Art and Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. The installations are shown in connection to the subject matter of each collection. There are also films and other installations which are still part of the Chalayan world but which were commissioned as art pieces by art organisations.
Does it bring back any specific memories?
All of the hard work and dedication that has been given to make the collections and shows.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
That my company is still around.
How involved were you with the retrospective?
I was very involved. The exhibition is curated chronologically into sections, which helped to create chapters. This also reflects the book, which comes out at the same time as the show.
Even from your graduate collection at Central Saint Martins, you began using unconventional methods to construct your work. Why did you first decide to work in that way?
It wasn’t a decision. As I am a curious person and an ideas person, everything I do is imbued with my curiosity and my love of exploring ideas.
Throughout your career you have experimented with your runway presentations by toying with different elements of architecture and design. What has been your favourite runway show and why?
My favourite shows are Between (spring/summer 1998), Afterwords (2000), Medea (spring/summer 2002), Blindscape (spring/summer 2005), Airborne (autumn/winter 2007) and Sakoku (spring/summer 2011). They were all challenging and timeless. They still look relevant now.
Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
The launch of my new perfume Airborne that has been developed with Comme des Garçons perfumes. I am also working on the spring/summer 2012 collection.
Hussein Chalayan will exhibit from July 5 – November 21, 2011 at Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris. The book Hussein Chalayan will be published by Rizzoli.
Text by Isabella Burley