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Design Museum Spotlights Hussein Chalayan


And speaking of Puma, the company’s creative director for sport fashion, Hussein Chalayan, is the subject of an exhibition that opened today at London’s Design Museum. Known for such fashion-meets-technology creations as LED-studded dresses and a wooden table that memorably metamorphosized, mid-runway, into a tiered skirt, Chalayan is fashion’s mad scientist (sans the crazy hair typically required for the role). Last fall in Paris, the Central St. Martins grad showed a spring 2009 collection that featured draped silk silhouettes in a crashed car print, molded latex dresses, and a pop of practicality in the form of striped jersey pieces (now available for pre-order on

On view through May 17, “Hussein Chalayan: From Fashion and Back” at the Design Museum spans 15 years of exploration and experimentation. The “Afterwords” section of the exhibit tackles Chalayan’s notion of “wearable, portable architecture” (e.g., that table/skirt), while “Readings” includes a dress comprised of over 200 moving lasers. And things really get sparkly in “Airborne,” which includes a dress made of 15,000 LEDs and a liberal sprinkling of Swarovski crystals. The show also includes some of Chalayan’s art projects, including the 2005 film Absent Presence. Starring Tilda Swinton as a sartorially minded molecular biologist, it was exhibited at the 51st Venice Biennale, where Cyprus-born Chalayan represented Turkey.

Having earned his reputation as a king of avant-garde fashion, Chalayan is now looking for, well, customers. “I need more visibility,” he told Vanessa Friedman of the Financial Times earlier this month. “I’m not interested in doing all this work for an exclusive audience. We spend hours making our clothes, and I want them to be worn. Sometimes people say they come to my fashion shows to get inspiration. That’s like the kiss of death for me. They need to buy. I think the monumental pieces have overshadowed the clothes. But I don’t want that image. It’s a waste of my time.”

Previously on UnBeige:

  • Hussein Chalayan Appointed Creative Director of Puma
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