#SuzyLFW When The Cut Counts: Chalayan And Roksanda

Chalayan: A complex simplicity

Superficially – meaning as a straightforward fashion show – Hussein Chalayan’s collection was a masterpiece of movement: Dresses in airy fabrics with hand-drawn patterns, or the apparently simple striped dresses that, in motion, revealed inserts going every which way.

Rather like the deep thoughts that the designer offers in his programme notes, the clothes are never quite as innocent as they appear. Only espadrilles with metallic spikes seemed to send a single message: Watch it!

Chalayan’s talent is to remain one of fashion’s big thinkers, yet at the same time to make his collections desirable. It is a rare combination.

I looked at the impressive cut of the clothes and intriguing patterns, before I read the show notes. They were titled “Pendulum” – a smart name for a collection that swung from complex to simple. But then Chalayan explained the complexity of his process: “… fabrics and prints developed to portray pivotal events and differences in attitudes on the respective continents”. That meant wrapped material from the Far East; jackets inspired by the abduction of the Sabine women in Ancient Rome; and pure hedonism symbolising the Southern Hemisphere.

Chalayan was searching for the still centre of this turning world. To put all that into a show was a triumph of imagination and also of skill, producing desirable and wearable clothes that appeared to be so deceptively low key.

Roksanda: Shaping a collection

The “two Cs” – cut and colour – created the story from Roksanda, who has mastered the technique of making her long-line dresses follow the body shape.

With sunlight peaking through the woven walls of the Serpentine pavillion, designed by Mexican artist Frida Escobedo, the designer’s customary strong palette looked the essence of artistic.

Yellow, orange and sand were particularly strong, but blots or stripes of many colours showed the designer playing with both set-square and compass. Roksanda is a fine tailor and her sense of elongated lines made strong, modern jackets and coats, while dresses were deliberately simple, often made to hang from black straps.

Her shades – and especially the range of tones – seem unique to her vision: Juicy bursts of orange, melon, strawberry red and sky blue. Add to that palette the varieties of fabric, from linen to satin, which added texture to the streamlined collection.

In a city where nostalgia for an English country garden is so often the summer story, here is a designer, originally from Serbia, who drains the sweetness but keeps a painterly effect.