Hussein Chalayan, Urgency of Movement

A visionary poet, Hussein Chalayan uses time as a living material whose cells are pulses: tick and tock, day and night, life and death.
The sensitive creations of Hussein Chalayan are intimately linked to his family history. A Cypriot, he grew up happily on a multi-ethnic island. Political events uprooted him and he moved to London. From the first, he learned sensuality; from the second, efficiency. He explains: “I am both an emotional and rational person. I really am split between the two. The ability to see things and read them comes from my mother’s side. But being able to make this into some real thing, that comes from my British education.” His cosmopolitanism and knowledge of art, architecture, anthropology and technology are the pillars of the themes that he approaches with humanity. And there are many themes: identity, immigration, fundamentalism, miscegenation, the status of women, etc.
hussein_chalayan_aw02_webAmbimorphus – Autumn/Winter 2002
The transformation of the status of women across five distinct models.
Our eyes sequence the landscapes that surround us. David Hockney, interviewed by Martin Gayford, said of this gaze that “when you move from one point to another, you pass through time. We see fragments and then we connect them to one another. In a way, it is time that creates space.” And with manipulation, time can become elastic. Many people of both artistic and scientific persuasions, have already tried this exercise. The emergence of technosciences – mechatronics, for example – have attracted ambition projects, often linked to transformation or to light. Recall Pia Myrvold in 1997 and her show “Dada Memory,” or the British Cute-Circuit and their “e-ready-to-wear” that they have marketed since 2004.
Hussein dissects time and extracts the tempo, the origin of our perception of time passing, of melancholy, of the preciousness of our thought. “I like to show the process of transformation, which is that of life itself,” he says. The photos of his shows seem frozen, reflecting his obsession with movement at different scales: one century (One Hundred and Eleven / 2007), one life (Ambimorphus / 2002), one day (Dress Transformer / 2013). His humanistic message is clear: rhythm is life, and we must urgently not forget.
hussein_chalayan_aw13_webDress Transformer – Autumn/Winter 2013
The dress takes on a new personality in an instant.
Since 1993, the rhythm in his collections has intensified. His Spring/Summer 2007 show confronts the mind with the glare of technology. While certain creators seems lost in the siren songs of technosciences with projects lacking depth, Hussein has transformed this loving parenthesis through a process of initiation. Knowing that Chalayan means “waterfall” in Turkish, the duality between continual movement and quiet strength seems obvious. His Autumn/Winter 2013 show is proof of an acquired maturity, delicately presenting new metamorphoses that are fluid, serene, peaceable. Here technology is no longer, though the wonder remains in soft, harmonious colors. The humanity of our respective histories and the fragile beauty of the moment, the essence of the passage of time, impassion and make these designs so vibrant.
When asked about his great capacity for work, he responds humorously: “It’s the weather! It seems trivial, but in London it rains a lot so inevitably you stay in your workshop and work!” A modesty equaling his appetite for life.
Cover Photo: One Hundred and Eleven – Spring/Summer 2007
Metamorphoses that illustrate the history of fashion through a century. Here from 1950 (Christian Dior) to 1960 (Paco Rabanne).
Photo Credits: Hussein Chalayan