Hussein Chalayan Fall 2011: Japanese Influence and a Floating Dress

PARIS--For fall 2011, Hussein Chalayan again presented a film, picking up where he left off last season, exploring Japanese culture within the DNA h
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Leah Chernikoff
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PARIS--For fall 2011, Hussein Chalayan again presented a film, picking up where he left off last season, exploring Japanese culture within the DNA h

PARIS--For fall 2011, Hussein Chalayan again presented a film, picking up where he left off last season, exploring Japanese culture within the DNA he's established over the past ten years. But it's not the kind of literal Japanese influence you might envision--no obis or kimono sleeves here. This season's film, Kaikoku, means "open country" in Japanese. "After the period of isolation Sakoku in Japan [Chalayan's fashion film for Spring 2011], the country experienced and openness to Western culture which over the years has influenced the food, fashion, art, architecture and technology while the country has still remained distinctly Japanese," his line sheets explained.

"It looks like it took two seconds, but it took forever," Chalayan said of his film at the intimate screening his sponsor, Swarovski, held at a gallery in the Marais yesterday. "Next season, hopefully will be a show." (We're keeping our fingers crossed.) While most designers still prefer to present their collection on the runway, fashion films are catching on. Chalayan has been doing fashion and art films for years. In some ways, you can see the clothes better than you can in a runway show, he explains. For example, a print in his fall collection that is meant to look like the shadow of an airplane through a window grate is made perfectly clear when, in the video, two figures hold up a grate over a spotlight on the model wearing the shadow print dress, remove the grate, and the print is still there. Of course there's plenty of Chalayan genius in his fall collection: there are tailored jackets where one side of the lapel melts into a scarf, and station pocket coats--a silhouette where, Chalayan explains, when the model puts her hands into the pockets it creates one silhouette.

What you see above, is the special museum piece called the Floating Dress that Chalayan created in collaboration with Swarovski. The technology that went into this piece--a gold spray painted shell that the model steps into--is staggering. It's remote controlled, and those little crystal pollens attached to it are all spring loaded to individually release via remote control as well. "The dress symbolizes new beginnings," Chalayan said. "It can move and go on a journey."

Chalayan can always be counted on to take his audience--whether fashion people or an art crowd--on a journey.