You cannot deconstruct unless you know how to construct. - Alexander McQueen

archive for October 6th, 2006

Shapeshifting at Hussein Chalayan

Friday, October 6th, 2006

For his s/s 2007 show presented in Paris earlier this week, Hussein Chalayan astonished the crowd with self-contained fashion retrospectives - garments that transformed themselves to represent styles from chosen eras. The magic was made possible by a collaboration between Chalayan and the team behind special effects for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, who microchipped the garments to perform to the tune of the designer’s vision.

Footage of the shapeshifting garments starts midway through this video coverage of the show.

Some stills of one of the garments:

chalayan in flux.jpg
Hussein Chalayan s/s 2007, a transforming look

chalayan fully transformed.jpg
Hussein Chalayan s/s 2007, transformed

Chalayan is the first big-name designer to inject this kind of technology into fashion, forging the inevitable path ahead. There’s really no telling which direction the industry will take with this first effort. A few considerations regarding the use of technology in garment design with a purely creative intent (apart from functional intents such as RFID chipping for monitoring inventory or theft prevention, nanotech swarms repairing fabric tears and weaving computer and communications technology into the textiles):

    1. How will the market respond?

    2. Technology of this sort will probably not escape the fickleness of patent law and its stifling of creativity.

    3. The possibilities of personalizing clothes are endless, opening up a whole new dimension for bespoke.

Mixed in with the novelty shapeshifting garments in Chalayan’s collection were wearable clothes, appropriate for the s/s season (which deserve mention later). If patent infringement nonsense doesn’t stifle the magic and hinder progress from the example he has set, there will come a day when the integration of technology in garment design will be seamless and practical, and will rightfully be defined as ready-to-wear.