Chalayan: Menswear SS20
It’s a year of big celebrations at Chalayan. For the past 25 years, Hussein Chalayan has been designing clothes that weren’t just part of a bigger conversation but was the catalyst for change. A rare member of the old guard on this season’s London Fashion Week Men’s schedule, Chalayan proved all that experience represents the knowledge and understanding of clothing as objects, away from the hype and drama. Showcased in the courtyard facing the brand’s London flagship store, his SS20 menswear collection will be added to the long list as one of his best, with the excitement of emerging names but the refinement that can only come with a quarter of a century of practice.
Titled “post-colonial body,” the show started off with an exploration of ways “colonial forces affected dance culture in South America,” as the designer explained backstage. With activewear and tailoring in dialogue, these clothes oozed with freshness and elan, benefiting from a childlike approach to dressing. No reference was direct or literal – specific cultural codes were buried deep in the silhouettes, representative of a harmonious global ideology. As they walked out, models carried their own boomboxes, developing a complex soundtrack. While there was a cacophony of sounds, there was also harmony in visuals. Workwear influences elevated through layering, with slashes revealing more elaborate elements underneath. A shirt printed with imagery of a straw man dancing the tango was a prime example of this multi-culti approach, while the walking sticks attached to the clothes showed how the bodies were affected by the “alien forces” of colonialism.
When asked backstage about the years to come, Chalayan didn’t give a subtle, throwaway answer. “More stores, more product categories,” he confidently stated. Here’s to the next 25!
Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans