Word of the day, courtesy of Chalayan’s press notes – pretension. But what might have a negative connotation in the minds of the general public, Hussein Chalayan turns into a positive outlook on life. According to his show notes, pretense adds “richness to the monotony of our lives.” However vague that might sound, the abstraction of pretense effortlessly transformed into reality inside the designer’s Mayfair flagship store today. His AW19 menswear collection was presented in the intimate setting of the store, but instead of the backstage, Chalayan was putting finishing touches on the models outside on the street, the “pretense” open to the public eye. It felt like a performance within itself and a true privilege to see it.
A legend at work, in that peak moment of adrenaline as his imagination, unravels. That imagination still successfully excites, decades of experience on. Cocoon-shapes against angular wrap cuts, quilted textiles layered over heavy wools – the outerwear was in focus. But instead of feeling like ‘decor’ or being there just for the sake of looks, the layering of elements felt utilitarian, almost necessary for survival. Brand’s own Wellington boots with tailored trousers tucked inside and splashes of neon yellows and pinks, brightening up the scales of greys, black and navies. Despite being decidedly quiet, in no way was this your regular menswear show. If anything, the modesty of it is what made it feel quite extraordinary. Yet it all felt oh, so natural. Such is the power of Chalayan.
by Natalie Dembinska