Wednesday, February 21st
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Avant garde designer and exhibitionist, Hussein Chalayan is considered one of the most original designers to come out of Britain. Born in Nicosia, Cyprus, Chalayan and his family moved to London when he was twelve. As a child he was unsure about his career path and changed his mind often from hairdresser to pilot to actor to architect before settling on fashion designer. Once he graduated from boarding school, he enrolled at St. Martins College of Art and Design. A few years later, in 1993, for his graduate collection, Chalayan created a line of decomposed silk, which he had buried with iron fillings and later exhumed. His pioneering collection caused such a sensation that it was not only bought by the London retailer Browns, but ended up in their storefront windows. Hussein Chalayan’s collection embodied everything he is now known for; an innovative use of materials, meticulous pattern cutting, and a progressive attitude toward new technology. In 1994, at London’s spring of ’95 Fashion week, he debuted his first womenswear line under his newly formed eponymous label.
During the late nineties, Hussein Chalayan’s rise to stardom continued to grow. He soon began branching out of the fashion world and started collaborating on several art exhibitions at places like the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Kyoto Costume Institute, the Louvre and the Museum of Modern Art. He then tried his hand at costume design, designing for numerous operas and dance performances. Even with all his outside projects, Chalayan simultaneously produced a new collection each season with designs combining architecture, philosophy, anthropology, science and technology. Chalayan often abandoned the traditional catwalk in favor of a moving art show, encompassing fashion, performance art and social commentary.
In 2001, thanks to his ingenious designs, Hussein Chalayan was hired on as Creative Director of Asprey, a British luxury goods company. All the while, he continued to design for his label and in 2002 launched his first ever menswear line during London’s spring of ’03 fashion week. In 2005, after four successful years he stepped down from his post at Asprey to focus on his own label. A year later, in 2006, for his service to the fashion industry, Chalayan was presented with the Member of the Order of the British Empire (M.B.E). Two years later in 2008, he became the first designer to head a major sports brand when he signed on as the first Creative Director of Puma (who in turn helped the designer out when they purchased a majority of stake in his company). In 2009, Chalayan unveiled a footwear line under his label and announced an ongoing collaboration with JBrand Denim to design a line of jeans.
Hussein Chalayan’s most famous collection, ‘After Words’ incorporating tables and chairs that turned into garments, was presented at the ’02 Autumn/Winter Fashion Week. Among his many achievements are the short films he directed including “Temporal Meditations”, “Place to Passage”, “Anaesthetics” and “Absent Presence” starring Tilda Swinton, which he showed at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005 while representing Turkey. Chalayan’s many awards include: Absolute Creation Award (1995), British Designer of the Year (1999 and 2000), Best Retail Interior for Tokyo flagship store (2004), Design Star Honor by the Fashion Group International (2007), Brit Insurance Designs of the Year Award (2008) and Outstanding Lifetime Achievement to Design from the FX International interior Design Awards (2009).