Everybody’s ditching Lincoln Center. Could Spring Studios be the new venue? Considering DVF and Michael Kors have supposedly hopped on board, and the space has housed a few fashion events previously, including Calvin Klein’s 10 year anniversary show.
While some designers prefer to focus on designing for the nostalgic set (and don’t get me wrong; I love a good throwback), there are a handful of innovators out there who enjoy pushing the envelope in new and exciting ways. Last month, BlackBook favorite Asher Levine stole the show at New York Fashion Week with his unisex techy threads that offered two-way capabilities through embedded microchips. Just a few days ago, Hussein Chalayan shocked the Paris Fashion Week set with his ingenious collection of transformative, two-in-one dresses. This, my friends, is what I’m talking about.
"A software specifically developed by Phone Halo for Asher Levine, TrackR app, uses an audible alarm and a hot and cold proximity indicator to make it easy to find a lost item, including smartphones," says the brand. "It also can send out a separation reminder notification to let the user know an item has been left behind. A lost and found mapping feature records an item’s last known location and can send out GPS coordinates to any phone, email, or social media." Levine’s handy invention even got love from CNN.
Though not as technologically advanced, Chalayan offered an equally useful service by created bang-for-your-buck garments. Thanks to a release-ready flap embedded into the famed designer’s luxe fabric, vibrantly patterned and textured dresses had the ability to turn into solid-hued styles at the wearer’s whim. Behold the transformation (at 2:37, 3:10 and 3:50) below.
Through his designs, Hussein Chalayan tells wondrous, fantastical stories—even if few people can decipher them. “As with great art and films, whose concepts can be obscure but still appreciated, my designs don’t need to be understood in order to be enjoyed as garments,” says the 41-year-old British designer. “If the end result of my work is a range of nice dresses, I don’t really mind if the consumer understands it or not.”
In his self-titled monograph, which is out this month via Rizzoli and features the sartorial daredevil’s complete body of work, Chalayan groups together collections from di erent periods throughout his career (beginning with his senior collection in 1993 for Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design) under esoteric umbrellas such as Transcendence, Disembodiment, and Metamorphosis. Of his own evolution, he says, “I don’t mean this in an arrogant or self-important way, but I’ve finally come around to thinking of myself as an artist who happens to use clothes as my main medium.” Chalayan, who’s also a photographer and video-installation artist, has dressed over-the-top style pioneers like Lady Gaga (the pop icon’s bubble dress and the pod in which she arrived at the 2011 Grammy Awards) and Björk (for the album cover to 1995’s Post). “I would totally agree that less is more, but in my own work people often only look at the monumental pieces and don’t even notice the minimal pieces,” he says. “But they’re always included in the collections.” Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, especially when those trees are made into paper dresses that fold into airmail envelopes and can be sent across the ocean.
As we recently noted, Puma has been making a concerted push for 21st-century relevance with a roster of partnerships and collaborations worthy of Opening Ceremony. First up, Puma is continuing its unlikely alliance with Alexander McQueen, and the next batch of kicks from this team-up promises fashionable offerings in blues and grays, rounded out by McQueen’s signature eye for shape. One rather impressive model is a high top sneaker with cut-up and twisted suede side-paneling. Awesome. Puma also has a longstanding line with young Japanese menswear and footwear designer Mihara Yasuhiro.
For Puma’s next season, Yasuhiro addressed global warming with a wiggly, melted-on-the-sidewalk sole detail. Yasuhiro’s conceptualism ties into another of Puma’s joint efforts, this one with Hussein Chalayan. Chalayan is an avant-gardist, and takes, for example, a Repetto-esque oxford and adds a plasticized, sculpted sole.
Perhaps the most sellable line is Puma’s fledgling alliance with Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man. The Bolt collection features clean-lined apparel, silhouetted with the runner’s signature lightning-bolt victory pose. Now in its second installment, Bolt’s influence has also inspired the new “Faas” (which means “fast” in Jamaican patois) trio of performance running shoes, featuring three different weights, depending on the race you’re running. Check out Puma Online to shop, and if nothing suits your fancy, you can always go nuts at their Mongolian Shoe BBQ.
Designer Hussein Chalayan is getting his feet wet with denim thanks to a collaboration with J. Brand. But the partnership is by no means Chalayan’s first. The designer, whose fashion I’ll call cerebral as opposed to avant-garde (since Chalayan hates being described as the latter), is responsible for a critically acclaimed namesake line as well as creative directorship of Puma. Plus, he’s creating a fragrance with the help of Comme des Garcons. WWD has an interesting interview with Chalayan in light of the collaboration, but what’s perhaps most intriguing is the designer’s aversion to other partnerships existing in the biz.
First off, Chalayan divulges that he chose to partner with Puma as a result of “the fact that it doesn’t conflict with his own collection,” adding, “it’s not like doing Givenchy or something.” (The latter WWD takes to be “a swipe at two other well-known British designers, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen” who have assumed positions at high-profile fashion houses that parallel their own eponymous lines). But rather then harp on other designers, it’s really the mannequins turning designers phenomenon that has Chalayan “weirded out.” After all, this is the designer that called Kate Moss for Topshop “insulting.” Just don’t tell Amber.
● Class act Aubrey O’Day is hoping to be the godmother to BFFs Jenna Jameson’s sons; after all, O’Day was the first one to know the ex-porn-star was pregnant. [OKMagazine] ● Lady Gaga’s bubble-ball dress she wears on her “Fame Ball” tour is making fashionistas do a double-take, as it’s almost identical to a Hussein Chalayan piece from his S/S 2007 collection. [NYTblog] ● Ever wonder what Thom Yorke looks like without a shirt on? Here’s your “chance” to find out for real. [JustJared]
● If Katy Perry could kiss another girl, she says it would be Twilight star Kristen Stewart. Sounds like material for her follow-up album. [Celebuzz] ● Marilyn Manson now wants ex-wife Dita Von Teese back; thankfully the feeling isn’t mutual. Guess Manson got tired of Dita rip-offs and wanted the original again. [Dlisted] ● Nicole Richie has launched her own website; in it, you can read her diary, where she discusses her design philosophy. (which actually isn’t a philosophy). [NicoleRichie]
J. Brand continues to embrace its inner Anglophile. The Los Angeles denim brand has announced it will team up with Brit designer Hussein Chalayan for a capsule collection that will hit stores in the beginning of autumn, says Elle UK. The collaboration comes after J. Brand’s partnering last year with London retail behemoth Topshop. As for the denim styles themselves, we’ll have to wait and see — though knowing Chalayan’s avant-garde tendencies, don’t expect straightforward five-pockets or simple washes.
It’s been a big year for Chalayan already. His Fall 2009 collection for Paris Fashion Week received a warm critical response. Plus, the designer is currently being honored by London’s Design Museum with an exhibition entitled “From Fashion and Back,” on view through May 17.