In the Chalayan’s autumn/winter 2000 show, he transformed chair covers and a coffee table into four dresses and a wooden skirt – and all in front of a live audience. The show was inspired by refugees of war, people forced to flee their homes, carrying their worldly possessions on their backs. Futurism and minimalism are tropes that have marked Chalayan’s approach to fashion design, and this collection was no exception. In order to explore the definition of home, the collection included garments made from household items: armchair covers, the armchair itself and coffee table.
Where most designers may take one era as inspiration for a collection, Chalayan subsumes them all. In fact, the metamorphosis of fashion over the last century was the subject of his Spring / Summer collection 2007 consisting of 6 pieces that magically evolve through two decades from 1900 to 2007.
Despite the dramatic time span covered in a just a few minutes, the transformation of each piece is incredibly subtle. They twitch, ravel or unravel, zip up or split open with fluid movements, enhancing the sensation that one is watching magic happen. Each piece seems alive, gently unfolding like the petals of a flower: a high necked Victorian gown reconfigures itself of its own accord, the top splitting open and the hemline retreating until, as if by miracle, she is left wearing a crystal embellished flapper dress.