Chalayan: Body language
The writing was on the wall at the Chalayan show: a digital projection that gave the clinical white clothes a frisson of the medical. “I am feeling more nervous in your presence,” said a robotic voice. “My glasses are measuring my heartbeat and stress levels. I am trying to control my breathing...”
The sense not of menace, but of anxiety about the modern world, was an underlying strength of Hussein Chalayan’s collection. Resonating with the moment is nothing new for this thoughtful designer. But now he melds the state of the world today with clothes for today.
They all have his simplicity, at first glance, combined with complex cutting. The dresses, trousers and tops were worked in cotton poplin, linen or viscose, cut in the round as if following body contours but without ever gripping them. The show finished with outfits blown-up like giant puffer jackets that suggested protection.
But the focus of the show was wearable high-tech devices — and what they mean to all of us. In collaboration with American tech company Intel, Chalayan made stress monitors in the shape of a waist pack that any biker might wear.
But these, according to the show notes, were omnipresent devices, linked to eyeglasses recording heart rate and stress levels. Most charming were rose patterns printed on a check grid on easy clothes — except that the “rose” was also digitised and, pink petals flapping gently, “spoke” to report the results of the stress test.
Food for thought and smart clothes for a modern wardrobe — that was a fine achievement for Chalayan.
Issey Miyake: Blossoms in the microcosm
Was that bag really changing pattern before my eyes? So much was going on at the Issey Miyake show, accompanied by rhythmic music played live by the Open Reel Ensemble on a new instrument called the Jigakkyu. The musicians stood on one of the undulating hillocks that swelled from the large space in which models, their clothes touched with vivid colours, walked geometric paths.
Answer one: the bag of changing hues was electronic, developed by Sony as “fashion entertainment”. Answer two: the sporty elegance of the clothes came from yet another fabric invention of the remarkable Miyake studio — a “cut & stick” material, scissored into shape and then bonded together with heat —sometimes with a different fabric. That technique was not to be confused with “3D steam stretch” — the creases, squares and famous Miyake pleats woven into fabric that shrinks under steam.
The Miyake studio is exceptional because, for all its complex, digital-age invention, the result is for real, not wearable tech. The slices of other-worldly colour worked on to plain dresses this season may have seemed too much of a design statement.
But creative director Yoshiyuki Miyamae matched those vivid flashes with simple, sporty pieces where a colour came just from the waist or from one of those bags.
Intriguing too were the tribal patterns, a fresh example of the way the pleats can be given a visual rhythm.
The strongest message that comes from a Miyake show, from the music to the materials, is the extraordinary inventiveness — light years beyond our everyday fashion universe.