Hussein Chalayan is a designer to cherish for his commitment to allowing matters entirely unrelated to fashion – usually seriously knotty social problems – to fuel his creative process. This season’s show was titled Périphérique after the 16-mile highway that encircles Paris and is effectively a moat between the affluent, established inner confines of the city and the banlieues, or suburbs, beyond, in which a large proportion of Paris’s immigrant population is centred.
That inspiration – the tensions that ensue from unintegrated immigration – manifested itself abstractedly. Padded coats and raincoats in black or khaki (meant to whisper of colonialism) often came with semi-encircling cloakish folds that reached around from the back of the garment. Jackets, pants, and shirts were presented semi-finished, torn away to reveal new versions of themselves pushing forth from beneath.
Ripped gold foil strips lined the shoulder of a formal black jacket. Irregular panels, adaptable to be worn every which way, were layered on top of garments below. Blanket pattern pieces in wool or cashmere were supposed to reflect North African patterns.
Along the way were plenty of pieces to pull off a rail and love less as abstract social commentary than as literally gorgeous garments, the double-face cashmere topcoats especially.
The pieces that reflected the tensions and contradictions of Chalayan’s subject of the season were, meanwhile, a typically thoughtful, wearable meditation on the concrete violence of human division.