Drawing inspiration from the relationship between the body and the built environment as well as technological enhancements, Hussein Chalayan utilises technology to refashion the form and function of clothing.  Chalayan’s sensitive treatment of the body and use of materials are reflected in his understanding of the practical and cultural needs resolved by clothing. What sets him apart from other conceptually based designers is the ability to explore principles that are visual and intellectual, whilst still maintaining an earnest sensitivity to the female form without the need of a zealously feminist agenda. Chalayan’s work represents a congruity of ideas that allude to notions of fashion and architecture meeting at a conjunction and the normalising of technology and body as upgradeable.  Bradley Quinn’s journalistic work on Chalayan has concluded that historically, fashion has defined the human body according to social values, however technological progress is radically changing the way it is perceived (ii). One of Chalayans reoccurring themes in his practice is the idea of the human as cyborg, this is exemplified in his various garments including the Chair Dress and Remote Control Dress. Quinn discusses the relationship to the body and technology by dividing it into four categories; restorative, normalising, reconfiguring and enhancing. He further argues that in terms of mainstream fashions, the cyborg body mostly consists of enhancing and reconfiguring technologies such glasses (reading and sun protective), mobile devices and performance enhancing shoes (the sunglasses and shoes reflecting the environment).

 

By combining technology and fashion to his collection, Chalayan emphasises the direct contact of technology and the body, this is quite apparent in his Remote control dress for example. Praised for its innovation and intellectualism, the garment marries fashion to technology and technology to the body, a physical and artistic manifestation of technological ideals. The dress is constructed of resin and fibres and contains solar panels, electrical circuitry, wireless technology and automated commands. Although Chalayan does present technology as an invasive presence and despite Quinn’s reiteration of cyborg philosophies, Chalayan Maintains that any cyborgian references are an inescapable side effect (i). What is intended was not explore the relationship between technology and the body, but rather the relationship between the form of the garment and the body.

 

Quinn further discusses in his article that although Chalayan garments at first glance appear to be totally unwearable, they to be seem progressive and appealing.Furthermore that the inclusion of technology in any circumstance is natural and progressive in the evolution of the functionality of clothing (ii).

What arises from this are notions of progression and integration of something alien. This normalisation of technology refers to Quinn’s theories of techno-sexualisation of the body. For example, the Remote Control dress has the ability to reveal and conceal certain parts of the body and to change silhouette to shape the female form, this allows the wearer to conform (or deviate) to the ideal standard of beauty. Therefore the term ‘fashion’ in this circumstance is used to describe the process of shaping or creating something as opposed to the system or the garments produced.

Remote Control dress

(i)

Fashion and Power, (n.d.). Blogspot, viewed 16 August 2014,

http://fashionandpower.blogspot.com.au/2010_03_01_archive.html >

 

(ii)

Quinn, B. 2002, “Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture”, vol 6, pp. 359-368.

<http://docserver.ingentaconnect.com.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/deliver/connect/bloomsbury/1362704x/v6n4/s2.pdf?expires=1411359966&id=79239981&titleid=6312&accname=Griffith+University&checksum=5E3DF1270DF2C3B1EED198CAFB6DA459>

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