Hussein Chalayan welcomes collaboration with open arms. He combines his role as creative director of Puma with his own namesake brand, through which his thought-provoking work has established Chalayan as a fiercely intellectual and technically innovative fashion force. Vionnet demi-couture bears his signature since S/S 2014 and when the Paris-based luxury leather brand VSP knocked on his door too, he gladly accepted.
'It was interesting because I thought: "I’m going to propose ideas and see how they react"', says Chalayan, showing a hint of his rebellious streak. But he was confident in the freedom VSP would give him, a necessary ingredient to any successful partnership. 'I think it’s important for all designers to do collaborations because you grow', he explains. 'In my opinion it opens your mind to other ways of thinking. It’s healthy because you make a new product that you would never do on your own.'
In the case of VSP, a Vespucci Group company that manufactures leather goods, collaboration is equally vital to remaining relevant. VSP creative director Kadri Soygul notes that working with a strong designer like Chalayan gives dynamism to the brand, also adding the importance of the architect he commissioned to create the brand's new two-floor retail space.
Housed within a historical Marais building with an arched entry and a glass façade, Istanbul-based architect Han Tümertekin's new boutique marries both parties’ visions. 'It was big collaboration of contemporary minds', says Soygul, for whom it was important that the two levels felt as one. Tümertekin achieved this challenging task through a semi-reflective stainless steel spiral staircase that unifies the two concrete spaces. Its rounded corners and sculptural quality soften the industrial feel of the space, as does the non-commercial sitting area and book corner on the lower ground.
These same elements of transformation and interaction are the cornerstones of Chalayan’s S/S 2015 collection for the brand. He said he 'wanted it to be sort of like a 3D form where there will be a sense of an infinite approach to the garments: you wouldn’t know where it starts and where it ends.' This fluidity was accentuated by zips that wrapped diagonally around the body, allowing the fabrics and leathers to become either more fitting or more generous.
'Of course, I’d like to take it further and explore new things,' he offers - an indirect promise that bodes well for what’s to come of this multi-season collaboration.