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Hussein Chalayan, the hi-tech haute couturier

By Laura Allsop for CNN
  • A retrospective of British/Turkish fashion designer and artist Hussein Chalayan has arrived in Istanbul
  • It is the largest and most comprehensive show of his work to date in Turkey
  • The exhibition is one of the events celebrating Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture
  • it will also coincide with Istanbul Fashion Week

London, England (CNN) -- In one of his first fashion shows, designer Hussein Chalayan sent models down the runway in decomposed silk dresses that he had buried and dug up again.

The dresses, which he showed as part of his graduate degree show at world-renowned art school Central St. Martins in London, caused a sensation and gave the world a taste of avant-garde designs to come.

That was 1993, and since then Chalayan has become known for his innovative use of materials, flawless pattern cutting and openness to new technology.

Twice crowned British Designer of the Year, he presides over his own label and has collaborated with musicians like Lady Gaga and Bjork.

Now, the British-Turkish Cypriot fashion designer, artist and filmmaker is being honored in Turkey, with a retrospective of his work at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art.

Hussein Chalayan: 1994-2010 first opened at the Design Museum in London in 2009, before moving to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, and then on to Istanbul.

The exhibition is part of events organized for Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture. On display until October, the exhibition will also coincide with the recently launched Istanbul Fashion Week in August.

Works on display include a dress containing LED lasers and wooden furniture that transforms into clothing.

The exhibition will also include installation work and films, such as "Absent Presence," starring Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton.

It was first screened at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005, when Chalayan was chosen to represent Turkey.

The innovative designer, artist and filmmaker was born in Cyprus and later moved to London to study fashion. He launched his own label in 1994 and has since been awarded an MBE, a British award of excellence.

Inspired by subjects such as migration and displacement, and an innovative user of cutting-edge technology in his designs, Chalayan routinely pushes at the bounds of fashion.

His experiences of traveling between London and Cyprus in his youth informs many of his collections, which often address ideas of cultural identity.

A love of air travel can also be seen in his work: On display at Istanbul Modern is a dress made of battery-driven glass fiber and resin panels that imitate the motions of an airplane taking off.

Hussein Chalayan: 1994-2010 will run until October 24th.