Hussein Chalayan and the concept of the veil

Hussein Chalayan is a British/Turkish Cypriot fashion designer, globally known for being an innovator. The huge success he has nowadays mainly comes from the meaningful concepts laying behind his collections and his ability to create products that are unique in the market.

Born in Nicosia in 1970, he soon moves to London and takes the British citizenship. After studying at Warwickshire School of Arts, he manages to enter the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (also graduating there).

He immediately gets noticed for his creativity and starts being rewarded with many prizes. His main inspirations are contemporary society and the two different cultures in the middle of whom he grew up. However architecture, philosophy and technology are other important stimulus.

The designer’s career is also characterized by numerous collaborations and partnerships with brands such as Yoox, Swarowsky, Puma but also celebrities like singer Lady Gaga and avant-garde artist Bjork.

Today, I want to present here one of his shows – influenced by the Turkish Cypriot heritage – which is Spring Summer 1998.
The collection is intended as a statement on the oppression of Muslim women and displays models wearing chadors of varying lengths – from fully clothed to totally nude.

On 21st April 1998, the New York Times states: “Few designers can move an audience to tears — they might bring people to their feet or bore them to distraction — but clothes are rarely so poignant that they elicit crying. Hussein Chalayan proved he possessed such power with his spring 1998 collection in England last season, a provocative exploration of Islamic women’s place in society using the chador as the fulcrum.”

To the many critics he received he replied: “It wasn’t really supposed to be offensive. It was supposed to illustrate a particular kind of position. This was about the cultural loss of self.