It must be looking bleak outside - at least, it must to the Paris design establishment. Barely three days into the Paris fashion week schedule and we're being encouraged to wrap up tight and warm, battening our sartorial hatches for a fight for survival. Keep calm and carry on spending? Makes a difference to fashion's usual head-in-the-sand edict of cheer up, it may never happen.
Hussein Chalayan has always had that survival instinct. His work has been subject to more challenges than most, after all. In his second show following a two-season hiatus from the catwalk, Chalayan evoked elements of survival, of shielding and of covering-up. The silver fabric fragments he pieced into skin-tight trousers and little dresses were halfway between tatters of bacofoil space blankets and armour. There was real metal in there too, palladium pieced into bodices in techie cut-out shapes, halfway between jewellery and embroidery.
The collection veered towards sportswear - zip-fronted jackets layered, knee-length dresses gathered at the waist and long, simple evening dresses like elongate silk t-shirts skimming the floor in scarlet, emerald and a bright egg-yolk yellow alongside navy and black. Easy to wear, and easy to extrapolate from the show setting and imagine on someone's back in the street. Of course that doesn't mean it can't question, provoke and excite. Chalayan cut windows out of his garments, like cross-sections allowing you to examine what's going on beneath.
But maybe they weren't windows, but doors like the one Chalayan printed on his invite, inviting you not just to look but to step inside and explore for yourself. The collection was titled 'Domisilent', a pun on domicile? There was an architectural feel, not only in the arching over-dresses of stiff, foam-like tailoring and final structured trio of dresses, but in the odd combination of colours reminiscent of electrical circuitry, and a mottle print that resembled nothing less than hyper-luxe loft insulation (more protection then). But what are dresses if not domiciles for the body? There'll be a housing demand for Chalayan's come winter.