A good designer is like an attentive waiter: he is there to serve his guests and quietly depart. Fashion, as Cristobal Balenciaga famously and sourly observed at the end of his career, is a dog’s life. Ah, but if only he had known Hussein Chalayan, he might have at least savored the human comedy.
Mr. Chalayan is fashion’s Marathon Man. He has done so much to make fashion interesting and alive. And while still at a young age he has realized that what fashion needs, more than ever, is wit and simplicity. “I wanted to do craft in a minimal way,” he said backstage, retying his apron strings as people crowded round. “Yeah, I was quite pleased. It was all about showing clothes.”
They were deceptively simple, with a well-balanced trouser suit in white followed by a long, open-back white column with a sheer panel of fabric flowing from the shoulders and looping at the hem. A trio of sleeveless tops or tunics in sorbet colors were cut away in the back and shown with gathered cotton skirts.
There were surprises everywhere: a summery white shift with a front panel of dark tapestry roses; prints in a brushy pattern of horses and flowers; and cool shorts in a reflective, papery silver fabric.
Mr. Chalayan might not buy it, but “Sip,” as the show was called, offered just the right amount of style for next spring.