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Hussein Chalayan

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REFINED SUBTLETY

After collections featuring wooden tables that morph into dresses and garments engineered to look like the model was traveling at warp speed, one has come to expect the extreme at a Hussein Chalayan show. The season, however, the designer turned a corner and presented a surprisingly wearable collection that channeled his proclivity for innovation on a much more subtle level. Chalayan played with the classics, placing an asymmetric placket on a white woven tee and hacking off the sleeves of a blazer and elongating it to skim the thigh. Blue and white striped pieces looked bound for the French Riviera, as in a puff-sleeved bodysuit topped with a button-up denim pencil skirt. In a surrealist flourish, he sent out a series of white jersey dresses (and one blazer) that were embellished with white 3-D hands that seemed to be actively shaping the fabric — perhaps these represented the designer’s connection to his work, or a reminder that the garments that land in shops are first created and molded by the human touch. His techie tendencies were given a down-to-earth direction with a body-hugging dress whose shape and print imitated flowing black sand dunes. While Chalayan is a great provocateur, his new subtlety suited him well and made taken-for-granted basics newly inspiring.

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