Collection: Blindness and the visually deprived

Hussein Chalayan

Hussein Chalayan

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If anybody else claimed that they had tried to design like a blind person we might worry, but when it comes to Hussein Chalayan, a little alternative inspiration goes a long way. Famed for making tables turn into skirts and dresses into chair covers, this Turkish-born, British based designer has not had it easy. Determinedly making an art of his design talent without bowing to the ravenous needs of a commerciality-obsessed industry, he has worked hard to remain safely at the top of the most avant garde wish lists.

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His roomy casual collection for spring/summer 2005 entitled blindscape is all about flimsy, wear-over-jeans dresses and oversized dress shirts in pale cotton that are all held together by cropped, mannish tuxedo jackets. For daytime there was an array of easy-to-wear vests, rolled up shorts and sleepwear-like baggy cotton separates that were evidential of Chalayan's unseeing point of inspiration. "The only way I could imagine what it's like [to be blind] is to think of what you see when you're asleep and dreaming," he said. That explained jumbled images on chiffon prints that he'd fashioned into dresses, some cutaway and twisted to show off slices of flesh while others featured tasseled hems or fell off one shoulder to reveal more shadowy jersey vest. "I blindfolded myself and drew at random, and then manipulated the shapes to make the dresses," went on Chalayan, dedicated as ever to his subject.

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I think this is an interesting concept and way to explore designs, but not necessarily captures the essence of blind people, but rather takes inspiration from them in the design process. Still, the blind drawings can be seen to inspire the more basic shapes and flowy, shapeless figure of the garments that seem much more free and natural in appearance.

Since I also previously conducted a similar experiment and have a series of blindfolded drawings of objects myself, it could be interesting to try and develop ideas and jewellery designs from them, just to try out...

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I am also really inspired by Chalayan's designs that often involve change or movement. In a similar way, my pieces will have to involve movement to create sound, so I need to think technically like he does in his fashion pieces... how things link, what components can allow movement, and suitable characteristics of materials...

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