Can you imagine wearing a coffee table as a skirt? It seems impossible but British fashion designer Hussein Chalayan created such a thing for his Fall/Winter 2000-01 collection. The highlights of the show were the last few pieces that worked as both clothing and furniture. The chair covers were used as dresses while the chairs themselves were folded into suitcases, but the final piece that won the loudest applause from the audience was the table that was lifted and turned into a skirt.
This collection remains to be one of the best examples of innovation in the field of design 17 years later. To create something that’s stylish and multifunctional at the same time requires talent in both aesthetic and functional product design, and Hussein Chalayan is an exceptional fashion designer who excels in both.
Multipurpose products are useful for anybody living in a limited amount of space, especially for those in crowded urban areas.
Chalayan’s collection was lauded by critics and was considered to be one of the two highlights of the season in London Fashion Week. “Without Mr. Chalayan and Alexander McQueen here to deliver such jolts, the British spring 2001 collections would be as inconsequential as a baby’s burp,” wrote Cathy Horyn for the New York Times. Her positive response was echoed by fellow critics; Suzy Menkes called it “a stellar performance” and Plum Sykes called it “magic.”
Despite the magic of the collection, Chalayan’s inspiration came from a harrowing place. The concept was inspired by the plight of war refugees who have no choice but to carry their personal belongings and flee their homes. Born in Nicosia, Cyprus, in 1970, his family was force to flee to London in 1978 after the Turkish military invasion in the early 70’s. Experiencing this struggle firsthand, he sought to create a collection that fulfilled the need of versatility and mobility.
Fast-forward to the present day and many kinds of multipurpose inventions already exist. A very common example would be Apple products that can surf the net, take photos, call people, save music, and contain games despite being relatively small and lightweight. These are the kinds of products people both want and need nowadays.
At the turn of the century, Chalayan already envisioned the kind of products that are necessary in a fast-paced 21st century world.