This season, Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs plays host to the Cypriot designer Hussein Chayalan’s exhibition Récits de Mode. Ordered thematically, the collections showed snapshots of a man preoccupied with far more than clothing, but with the boundaries of art and fashion, an intellectual dissection of dress rather than trendsetting or megabucks. Presenting his collections to date, it was a fabulous exposé of one of a living genius. Starting with a piece from his 1995 graduation collection, Buried Dresses, a metallic garment exposed to oxidization underground represents Chalayan’s debut project that fused both scientific muses and traditional Eastern stories. In Afterwords (AW 2000), explored notions of refugees and flight, informed by the history of ethnic cleansing Turkish Cypriots faced pre-1974. Models entered a living-room set, dismantling it one piece at a time, before finally the chair-covers became dresses, the chairs suitcases and the table a sculptural wooden skirt. Most visually stunning of all, One Hundred and Eleven (SS 2007) showed six dresses that morphed with hidden electrodes into different dresses of twentieth-century decades; Victorian became Flapper, and beyond. The effect was electric. Challenging the stereotypes of fashion and it’s function, Chayalan’s work in itself is a challenge to fashion itself to represent society, history and more.
Hussein Chayalan: Récits de Mode runs until 13th November, 2012 at Les Arts Décoratifs – Mode et Textile, 107 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris