Dissolvable dresses from Hussein Chalayan's spring 2016 collection.

Hussein Chalayan’s disappearing dress

How can we apply new materials and new techniques to make high fashion more sustainable? Hussein Chalayan is the master of transformative design in Paris, and he challenges our perception of what a garment can be.

Hussein Chalayan is known for his unconventional methods in fashion design, combining traditional tailoring with advanced technologies to challenge our perception of what a garment is, or can become.

Amongst his previous innovations are the coffee-table skirt, the transformer dresses with designs changing throughout the length of the catwalk. His memorable graduate project from Central Saint Martins, oxidized silk dresses that had been buried in Chalayan’s friend’s garden for months was snapped up by the prestigious buyer house Browns instantly after the presentation.

Fast-forward to his Spring/Summer 2016 collection where Chalayan created water-soluble coats, garments that dissolve in water.

« Chalayan challenges our perceptions of what a garment is by giving it multiple functions, extending its life-cycle, dissolving it or making it into something new »

What first appeared to be modest lab-coat-like pieces were then subject to a surprising transformation with the addition of a shower of water. As the coats melted, the audience were treated to the reveal of elegant cocktail dresses, studded with Swarovski crystals. The disappearance of the coats left the viewer with important questions regarding the life cycle of a garment. This has somewhat become Hussein Chalayan’s trademark through his experimental and intellectual approach to fashion; raising questions and causing debate on topics regarding the functions of a garment and sustainability.

Hussein Chalayan surpasses the runway with his transformative fashion, and it is perhaps the possibilities of conjoining the technology with ready-to-wear that enthuses the most. The designer himself proclaims that the showpieces serves an important function, but that the process of turning them into wearable clothes is the actual challenge and focus.

Chalayan remains true to his unconventional methods, consistently finding new materials and new ways of producing clothes. He challenges our perceptions of what a garment is by giving it multiple functions, extending its life-cycle, dissolving it or making it into something new. His futuristic approach and groundbreaking ideas are important, not only as a pathfinder but also as a bridge between the luxury and sustainability sectors.

Visit Hussein Chalayan here

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