Textiles Designers Take Note
If you are in Paris for Maison & Objet don't miss the retrospective of fashion icon Hussein Chalayan at the Musee des Arts et Decoratifs, a branch of the Louvre on Rue Rivoli.
Seems that every September, the Musee - which assimilated the previously separate Textile Museum - surprises with a special show highlighting one of fashion's greats, always an eye opener demonstrating ground-breaking ideas and techniques that have become the stuff of legend.
Right on the heels of the blockbuster exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York reprising Alexander McQueen comes this presentation of another kind of genius who is as fluent in the
vocabularies of anthropology, philosophy, science, architecture, sculpture, furniture design, music and technology - all playing an important role in Hussein Chalaya's innovative runway productions, which are more art performance than fashion shows.
Hussein Chalayan was born in Cyprus, where he studied textile and fashion design before moving to London to earn his college degree. What propelled him into the limelight of High Fashion was his graduation collection of "Buried Dresses," a series of garments he buried in his garden, where they metamorphosed through oxidation.
That's the kind of thinking which can change the dynamics of textile design.
This early theme still continues to reverberate in his work as he delves deeply into the roots of multi-cultural and ethnic design.
His fashion shows are multi-sensory experiences, which he intertwines into a unifying theme for his collections. He also proves himself a master of technology, which he uses to dramatic effect transporting his audience into a never-before experience.
On a less esoteric level, weavers and rug designers could profit from looking at the current windows at Hermes - in this case, its old location on the Rue Faubourg St. Honore - where the colorful backdrops this week consist of hand-woven Tunisian straw carpets that could inspire a
whole new creative approach to sisal rugs.
They bond perfectly with beautifully exotic wicker furniture, some of it eccentrically Victorian. Overall, the settiings are projecting luxury of the Colonies. So, don't write this style off - just yet.
That's not the only news at Hermes. It has in fact started a repro collection of furniture pieces originally designed by Jean Michel Frank in the 1930s.This iconic designer is still looked at as one of the great innovators in the modern movement and is especially celebrated for his use of highly unusual materials on furniture.
Shagreen, parchment and goat skin are just a few of the textural surfaces he liked to use on his furniture pieces, adding a very special quality and luxury treatment to his very simple designs. Another favorite way to decorate his simple furniture was with often fan shaped marquetry, which gave his pieces a three-dimensional quality and artistic pedigree.
Tables and chairs tend to be spare in line and executed in either natural wood or black. Upholstery on the other hand tends to be quite large in scale and overwhelmingly comfortable, especially when covered in off-white poodle cloth you wish you could wear.
What I hope to convey by reporting on these extraordinary but off-beat style statements on the eve of Maison & Objet, is that there is so much more to see and "feel" here in the City of Light than just the show.
Without taking one iota away from its importance as a decorative guiding indicator, it's worthwhile to allocate at least one extra day to Paris to allow you to take in some of the sights and experiences this city offers to all who come to look for beauty and ideas.