Don’t Call it a Comeback: Hussein Chalayan Tapped to Design Vionnet’s Demi-Couture Collection

Here’s a new designer appointment I’m really excited about: Hussein Chalayan, avant-garde fashion hero of the late-90s and early-00s, has just been appointed the demi-couture designer for legendary label Vionnet’s demi-couture collection. He’ll make his debut for Vionnet January 21st at Paris’ Haute Couture Fashion Week.


An iconic Chalayan dress from spring 2000.

“I’m extremely happy about this collaboration because I think that Hussein is a super-talented, forward-thinking designer,” Vionnet Chairman and Creative Director Goga Ashkenazi said. “He is a true artist, very conceptual; he thinks out of the box and has a strong architectural approach. He represents what Madeleine Vionnet represented in her era.”

Since graduating from the MA Fashion program at London’s Central Saint Martins—alma mater of Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Phoebe Philo, Christopher Kane, and more—Chalayan has made his mark on the fashion world as one of the most successful more-conceptual, cerebral designers around.

His graduate collection showcased pieces that he’d buried underground and let deteriorate for several weeks—before presenting them on the runway.


A look from Chalayan’s fall 2007 collection.

At his shows, tables can turn into skirts (fall 2000):

And trampolines, balloons, confessional boxes, and even electric guitars make prop appearances in presentations and shows that toe the line between fashion runway and performance art.

“I like taking ideas from the past and putting them into contemporary garments,” Chalayan told Hilary Alexander. And, according to hangtags that accompanied garments in later collections,
the designer often tapped into his own personal sense of cultural displacement for inspiration.

“I come from such a mixed geography,” he told HintMag in 2009. “It’s really a soup. My genetic pool consists of so many different cultures. Because nation states are always trying to create a homogenous culture, I have always been interested in finding out what we really consist of. Everyone knows us as merely Turkish Cypriot or Greek Cypriot, but actually it is an island that was conquered by so many people. That’s what creates this quest.”


A sculptural silhouette from spring 2009.

In addition to his own labels, Chalayan has previously designed for TSE, Puma, and Asprey. In 2006 he was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II and has twice won Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards.

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