London-based designer Hussein Chalayan may be known for his cutting edge runway shows featuring designs of mechanical dresses and models strutting amidst LED effects, but he despises being considered avant-garde. "I hate that term," Chalayan recently noted to WWD, adding about the stylistic title, "It makes it sound like we can’t appeal to people or something, and it’s absolutely rubbish.” The designer is currently stateside due to his brand new collaboration with denim label J brand jeans, for which he's designing three styles of jeans. As creative director of Puma since last winter, Chalayan says that his newest challenge is finding the balance between creativity and commerce. “It’s like a ball and chain,” he says. “I don’t feel they’re separate.” When signing on with Puma, the designer also accepted a bid from the sportswear brand's primary investor PRR for a majority stake in his company. Chalayan had been conflicted over whether or not to accept such a corporate connection for his own label, but in the end decided it was a good move toward growth for his line. "I felt if I didn’t do this, my brand wouldn’t move on enough." He said, noting the positive effects that some business partnerships can have for independent labels.
Hussein Chalayan's futuristic fall 2009 runway show
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Another type of partnership that Chalayan expressed concern over is the growing trend of models turning to fashion design. Big runway names such as Kate Moss, Elle Macpherson, Erin Wasson, and most recently, Amber Valetta have all decided to try their hand as designer to mixed reviews by the media. Chalayan, for one, is seemingly not an advocate of the idea. “If you have a really strong sense of style and people want to aspire to being like you, I can understand that,” he says. “But if you really are doing it just because you think of yourself as a brand and you haven’t had the training and you know nothing about clothes, it kind of demeans all the training that designers have had.” Of all the model crossovers, Chalayan seems to think Kate Moss's influence is the most credible, though he criticized her line over a year ago in the publication The Independent, and still thinks it doesn't hold up as a legitimate line. “I don’t think it represented her, and I didn’t think she worked hard enough. I even told her to her face.. She said, ‘Oh, I’m just trying to do a light thing; I’m not trying to do anything serious,’” recalls Chalayan. “But I said, ‘That’s not the point.'”
Chalayan seems to have resigned himself to the fact that famous faces do sell clothes and prefers, instead to focus on upholding his own creative integrity. On his collaboration with J Brand denim, the designer eloquently noted,“It wouldn’t be exciting to me to do this and sell three pairs,” says Chalayan. “This collaboration shows that our language can be applied to things that you can really wear.”
Article and Photo Source: WWD