Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
PARIS--“I was really intrigued by this period of Japanese history called Sakoku. It was during the two centuries in the Edo period when the shogun closed the country to outsiders. This isolation enhances the notion of abstraction. The collection was not inspired or based on Japanese clothing, rather I was fascinated by the idea of abstract isolationism. These are silhouettes I have worked on for a long time,” designer Hussein Chalayan said after showing the 12 minutes film he made for his spring collection, titled "Sakoku."
Mr. Chalayan has directed several films over the last decade, even a conceptual film with little clothes for Tribe Art Commission in late 2003 that was sponsored by the Honda Formula Racing team. That film featured an old female racer going through London and Istanbul in an aerodynamic pod.
Screened against the white walls of a small art gallery tucked away in the 3rd arrondissement, the color film was shot against a black background. A single spotlight shone on model Juju, who wore the 37 looks in various poses: walking, standing, coming in and out of frames. At one point, three ninjas played with the silk pieces attached to her floral bustier dress. Divided into seven sections, each focused on a particular element of design. The "Sakoku" section was composed of black wool tailored drop shouldered jackets and wide legs pants, with the model's face veiled. "Decentered" included white cotton voile coming out of a black jacket and a pleated skirt under a short sleeveless dress. "Wrapping in Transition" revealed a white broderie anglaise wrapped around a light grey sheath dress, slicing the dress at different sections. "Immence of Water" showed the draping effects of bonded chiffon on a dress, resembling water flowing on a body. "Haiku" showed the beauty of the movement of a floral silk dress.
But what the film really showed was Mr. Chalayan’s skillful techniques and specific design approach for each individual garment. The clothes corresponding to the section "Floating Body," for example, included a soft lime jacket with satin short sleeves, with the illusion that the jacket was floating above the fuschia crepe pants it was paired with. A fuschia crepe dress, cut with armholes extending to the hip bones and a cut-out patent leather piece sown in at the waist, seemed to float away from the body when the model moved.
The film conveyed both Mr. Chalayan’s aesthetics as well as the feeling of the collection. Looking at the outfits, arranged by order of passages in the film on two racks at the gallery, reinforced what was portrayed. Somehow, in a quiet moment at an art gallery tucked between two small side streets where I had to wait for the concierge to finish splashing the water on the black pavement to chase off the last bits of soaps to the drainage, the prevailing high brow discourses on the notion of a film replacing a fashion show seemed so remote and frankly, obsolete. Mr. Chalayan presentation rendered that discussion moot.