Sunday, March 16, 2008

Holding Pattern

Hussein Chalayan

Hussein Chalayan Hussein Chalayan Hussein Chalayan

Hussein Chalayan (English, born Cyprus, 1970). “Remote Control Dress,” spring/summer 2000 (edition from 2005). Pink fiberglass; pink nylon tulle. Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2006 (2006.251a–c).

Hussein Chalayan’s collections are an articulation of his immediate conceptual and philosophical preoccupations as well as his fascination with materials and techniques as they might be applied to his métier. Chalayan is an artist whose extraordinary intellectual rigor is supported by an equally vigorous pursuit of perfected technique. Engaged by issues of gender, politics, science, nature, and history, Chalayan informs his presentations with designs that are often less apparel than they are sculptures; on other occasions, an iconic dress form is an actor, as in his meditation and commentary on the burka, and what is ordinarily a commercial presentation is transformed into a performance piece or installation art.

This dress is a later edition of one that was first shown in Chalayan’s spring/summer 2000 collection. Like the original, it is made out of a composite material created from fiberglass and resin cast in a specially designed mold. Also like the original, it has side and rear flaps that open to reveal a mass of frothy pink tulle. While these flaps are operated manually in this model, in the original they were operated mechanically by remote control. The prototype was, itself, a permutation of two earlier models in which Chalayan explored ideas about the relation between nature, culture, and technology. Chalayan’s description of all three models as “monuments,” not because of their rigid form but because they are “monuments to ideas,” is as much a comment about his process as his practice of design.

The concept for this spring/summer 2000 collection focused on the relation between mankind, technology, and nature, and the designs in the collection represent those various forces. The “Remote Control” Dress was operated by a boy who came onto the catwalk with a remote control. His electronic instructions opened up the panels of the dress to reveal the soft tulle inside.

The idea of directing living beings with a simple remote-control system was a lighthearted hint at the human tendency to want to control life as well as our sometimes exaggerated expectations of technology.

—Hussein Chalayan

Comments (44)

  1. Lexi Says:

    I fell in love with this dress. It gives off the vibe of a very futuristic, but magical world. To put it into words is very difficult, but I find the phrase, “Cyber fairy” somehow fitting.

  2. missylin Says:

    i like it!!! the contrast of cold metal and soft lace…..

  3. Justin Says:

    For me personally I enjoy his work more when I haven’t read his thoughts on the collection. They’re usually overwhelming and come off as extremely pretentious. Of course, this is only my opinion, but when an explanation completely overshadows the clothes, it’s a problem to me.

    That said, his use of technology not only here, but in his more recent collections as well, is extremely admirable and creates amazing pieces that no doubt will be observed for years to come.

    At the end though I’m usually left unimpressed with his actual ready-to-wear garments, and that’s unfortunate since he is first and foremost a fashion designer.

  4. elizabeth Says:

    this dress looks like a moden cyber fairy dresss. i love it

  5. Lulu Says:

    That is just scary!

  6. Cruzita Says:

    Hussein Chalayan is an architect a designer and a a fashion engineer all in one his collections hide an amazing previous work. I love the sobriety of of shapes.

  7. Laurie Aron Says:

    Performance art, installation art, ideas, process…whatever. I personally think this dress is silly.

  8. Simone Says:

    When I saw this dress I fell in love with it instantly. Being a fan of the color pink, corests, technology, and a little thing called Japanese Baby Doll Lolita, I felt that this peice managed to incorporate everything I hold near and dear to me. The smooth plastic lines, the silver spindle things on the side of the dress, every detail to me was covered. I would wear this dress to Prom any day.

  9. Riley Says:

    Is this a hat or wires? How can you tell?????

  10. Riley Says:

    I mean dress. Sorry!!!!

  11. Jacqueline Says:

    I love this dress at first sight! It is futuristic! I have drawings of this kind of dress all over my notebooks! I really like that is it remote controlled.

  12. caleb Says:


  13. joanna Says:

    I love this dress…. the combination of unexpected materials

  14. Arodi Says:

    Es impresionante como el autor de este vestido mezcla la tecnologia con la moda…!!

  15. meimi1995529 Says:

    i really like the shape of this dress. i dont know if wearing it would be to comfortable but as an artform it ranks at the top! :)

  16. Kat :-) Says:

    This Dress just looks PAINFULL! Who would want to wear it. I mean really. And wouldn’t people make fun of you on the streets! This dress doesn’t even come close to even the smallest bit Fierce! :-(

  17. margsie Says:

    It is pure scuplture to me n I could live with it.

  18. Sue Says:

    I fail to see the artistry. It’s just plain silly, as are so many other “high fashion” designs.

  19. Pituca Says:

    Just wonder who’s gonna handle the remote!

  20. Megan Larson Says:

    This dress is extremely interesting. I agree that is futuristic looking. It would be impossible to wear and is not at all conventional. However, I appreciate the combination of fashion and technology. The designer is not only combining the mediums of fashion and art, but of technology too. It is truely innovative.

  21. Matthew Says:

    Very plain, but nice design.

  22. Krysta Says:

    WOW!!! ROBOT MUCH??? I would probably fall over roll down a hil into a dumster and then I would probably get picked up by E.T. thinking I was from his mother ship.

  23. Alex Says:

    When I was looking at this I just couldn’t figure out what it was! I t looks like a plain dress form

  24. jane Says:

    I think this dress is awesome!!!!!! If i even tried something like that it would fall apart in 2 seconds!!!!!!!!!!! I think i would never wear it but i would defently admire it.

  25. Abigail Says:

    I think the dress is rather amazing to be honest .. the concept of the design is beautiful and the electronics must of takern a very long time. i give it a definate thumbs up :)

    abz xxx uk xxx

  26. michaela Says:

    omg! i thought this was a corset when u first saw it! ooooops = p

  27. Morgan Says:

    goodness this dress is so interesting. Of course not quite of the runway attire but an interesting concept. I wish i could of seen the show! I bet it was a blast!

  28. Christina Says:

    Very cool to look at….but not sure where you might wear it and how comfortable it would be. I loved the contrast between the very futuristic remote control led panels and the soft pink frills underneath. I am sure that it created quite a stir when it was presented on the runway! I loved this entire exhibit and incorporating the use of a blog! What a great way to encourage participation from the public in an exhibit. Great idea!

  29. Ericka Syhre Says:

    I didn’t realize this was wearable until reading about the designer. I just couldn’t imagine wearing something like this ever, for anything. Sure it’s a good piece of art, at best, but defiantly not wearable.

  30. Eily Anderson Says:

    This dress is poppin’ and rockin’! Whoever designed this is AWESOME!!!!!

  31. Nancy Rogers Says:

    ALL of these dreeses are georgous and so fashionable. They would all rock any women that would wear them. All you designers ROCK!!!!!! You did a nice job of expressing yourselves in these dresses!!! All you designers R.I.P. You rock my world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU’RE #1 IN ANYONE’S BOOK WHO SEES THIS!!!

  32. morgan Says:

    This dress is poppin’ and rockin’! ..can’t explain it better myself if i was a robot. i’m thinking about getting metal legs to go with it, it’s a risky operation..but i think it’ll be worth it. hahhah how could anybody consider this back brace a dress. it looks liek something you’d wear if you had a really severe case of scoliosis.

  33. andy Says:

    i can’t wait until PINK FIBERGLASS becomes the new “Jersey” but it needs a remote…and a built in bidet!

  34. emma Says:

    i think that this is the weirdest dress that i have ever seen
    who would want to wear a dress made of metal! how uncomfortable!!!

  35. Ugly Dress Says:


  36. Lena Says:

    Three words: Space Odessey:2001

  37. Lilia Says:

    it is an interesting dress. personally, i wouldn’t want to wear it, cause i like comfy loose clothes and the dress might be heavy because it is made out of metal.

  38. Reilly Says:

    How would you sit down??

  39. Susan Gordan Says:

    As usual in these exhibitions there is a lot of great information that is so low to the ground that only short people can easily read it. I understand the artistic purpose of showing the clothes and not the text, but the text is so good why put it so that it is uncomfortable to read? Education should not be phyisically painful.
    Please decide on your photography rule–either photography is allowed or not. The sign at the top of the stairs said no photography. A group of college students were popping shots all over the gallery while one female guard looked down at the floor until I said something. Later another said it was fine as long as there was no flash. Which is it? The flash photography in the darkened gallery was very annoying. And I don’t need to remind you also bad for the garments.
    The clothes throughout the gallery were interesting and the juxtapositions were also interesting. I searched and was unable to find a generic blog on which to post this comment, thus I added it to this one. Sorry it if isn’t in the correct space, but I did look. It is nice to have this opportunity to share an opinion about the work you are doing.
    All in all it was very nice to find an exhibition of fascinating fashion open here at the Met today.

  40. Kevin Says:

    Is this the fashion of the future? If so, why is it so tied to the past? Although the mechanical, cold exterior frightens & interests one, it is the hidden “undergarment” that is warm & inviting. Are we to think that the future will only be cold & harsh & mechanical? Is the only way that the future will be conforting is by referring back to a soft, billowing past? What is the artist trying to tell me?

  41. carlos rodriguez Says:

    how do yo do your necessities???????

  42. Mary Says:

    Does no one see the hidden mysogyny in this dress? A woman encased in hard plastic is controlled by a remote held by a boy… It is remarkable for its construction, wit, etc, etc, which only serves to disguise the underlying objectification of women. If this was a commentary about woman as a powerless robot it would be different.

  43. Sam Says:

    I am suprised that no one has commented on the fetish nature of this dress. A little boy controled which portions of the soft interior (which very much resembles a balarina’s liatard) to reveal. Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but the stiff exterior, the remote control it self, all screams control over the woman who presumabley chose to wear the dress.

  44. tygrtygr Says:

    …and is as totally confining, in its Western high-tech way, as a burka.

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