In an interview, Chalayan has stated that he's more like a fashion artist than a fashion designer and I think this exhibit displayed that well. It is definitely not just a retrospective of his past collections, but an installation of his artwork. I was especially surprised by the amount of films on display. Chalayan incorporates so many ideas and topics in his work, and I found it quite difficult to wrap my head around the underlying meaning of his films. Another reason to go to an exhibit as soon as it starts--so that there's time to go again. I wish I could go re-watch the films and try to deepen my understanding. They were very interesting and thought-provoking to say the least.
My favorites were "After Words" (Autumn/Winter 2000) and "Absent Presence" (short film, 2005). I definitely recommend watching the video for "After Words". Chalayan was "inspired by the plight of the refugee and the horror of having to leave one's home suddenly in times of war". I won't go into details here but watching the furniture transformed into clothing and ultimately leaving the room still and lifeless was an extremely powerful image.
Tilda Swinton plays a biologist in "Absent Presence", which "explores the neurosis and paranoia surrounding the issue of terrorism, inspired by the introduction of 'hard line' policies on immigration and the resulting suspicion surrounding foreign individuals". I felt that this was easier to understand than the other films and watching different scenes on five screens at once created an amazing effect. This is an extremely relevant topic to our society today and it makes you wonder if this is the kind of future that awaits us.
I felt that Chalayan is depicting conflicts and themes that are actually connected strongly to our lives. I could only be amazed at Chalayan's ability to show those conflicts and themes through fashion.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos are taken by me. I have credited the images that I did not take myself to the best of my knowledge, but please feel free to e-mail me if there is a mistake or if you want me to remove an image. Thank you.