Nothing is ever quite as it seems in a Hussein Chalayan collection. Creations ranging from the table that transformed into a skirt to a dress that literally changes shape mark the Cyprus-born, British-raised Chalayan as a visionary who focuses on how the human body interacts with science, technology and nature. The dichotomy in Chalayan's aesthetic is that his conceptual pieces are counterbalanced by sleek, architectural designs that are surprisingly wearable.
Chalayan first drew the fashion industry's attention with his graduate collection, which featured silk dresses that had been buried in his backyard and subsequently dug up, giving them an authentically aged, fragile look. Later innovations included a knit dress with an attached walking stick, and a cocoon dress that immobilizes most of the torso.
The designer has also explored social issues, most notably in a collection featuring traditional Muslim chadors cut to various lengths. The models wore nothing under them, making a powerful point about what lies beneath the veil of women in Islamic society. Transformative and heady, Chalayan's fashions are not content to simply look pretty but aim to challenge the intellect as well.