Hussein Chalayan – 111 – Robotic Dresses

Hussein Chalayan robotic dress 1940s

Hussein Chalayan robotic dress 1940s configuration


Where most designers may take one era as inspiration for a collection, Chalayan subsumes them all. In fact,  the metamorphosis of fashion over the last century was the subject of his Spring / Summer collection 2007 consisting of 6 pieces that magically evolve through two decades from 1900 to 2007. Despite the dramatic time span covered in a just a few minutes, the transformation of each piece is incredibly subtle. They twitch, ravel or unravel, zip up or split open with fluid movements, enhancing the sensation that one is watching magic happen. Each piece seems alive, gently unfolding like the petals of a flower: a high necked Victorian gown reconfigures itself of its own accord, the top splitting open and the hemline retreating until, as if by miracle, she is left wearing a crystal embellished flapper dress.

Twice named “British Designer of the Year”, Hussein Chalayan is an internationally regarded fashion designer renowned for his architectural tailoring and progressive use of technology. His spring 2007 collection took his integration of new technology to an entirely new level, made possible by Waldemeyer’s engineering genius.

The different effects in the show were achieved through six months of experimenting with servo-driven motors, pulleys and wires that are fed through hollow tubes sewn into the dresses. The real challenge lay in keeping the integrated technology lightweight yet strong enough to manoeuvre different fabrics and materials.

We get a great sense of Chalayan’s playful irony at the end of the show where a sheer white dress winds itself into a hat, leaving the model completely nude.

Hussein Chalayan - robotic dress 1950s configuration

Hussein Chalayan – robotic dress 1950s configuration

Hussein Chalayan - robotic dress 1960s

Hussein Chalayan – robotic dress 1960s configuration

Hussein Chalayan's 111 show in Tokyo

Hussein Chalayan’s 111 show in Tokyo


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