Chalayan S/S 2020 London Fashion Week Men’s
Scene setting: Chalayan has hosted his intimate menswear presentations for a number of seasons in his Mayfair store. The crisp white space, with its dark wooden boat-shaped counter and sloping black steel rails, puts his precise clothes at ease. But for his 25th anniversary year, Chalayan staged S/S20 alfresco, with guests lined up in a nearby mews. The models each carried a mini ghetto blaster blaring out different songs, yet it was in the silence that one could understand Chalayan’s clarity of thought as the sun beat down on the cut of his tailoring. His process is one of layering concepts, just as his stripe trousers had shorts overlaid – and on top of shirting, sheer panels were fixed to the torso.
Mood board: Entitled ‘Post-Colonial Body,’ the collection began as a study of indigenous dance and movements that have been appropriated by the West. This translated into paper cotton outerwear that traps the air and wool tailoring embellished with ropes, evoking exercises for physical discipline and rigour. Chalayan said, ‘I looked at South America initially and how the colonial forces affected the dance culture. I also looked at rituals of Japan and how the country was influenced socially, economically and culturally by the Americans between 1945-1952.’ He wanted to visualise how the body has been re-punctuated by external, almost alien forces. Jackets and trousers had channels through which hiking sticks were slotted; the print on a silk shirt depicted folkloric Japanese rituals fused with step instructions for Tango.
Sound bite: After 25 years in the business, the opening of the Mayfair store four years ago transformed how the label worked. ‘Our shop has changed our lives – we have met our clients and understood what they need. It’s a response mechanism,’ Chalayan said. ‘I’ve met really nice people through my work that I would not have met otherwise. The best thing about my 25 years? Just to have survived is enough.’ §