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Things Hussein Chalayan Dislikes: Models-Turned-Designers and the Term "Avant-Garde"

Things Hussein Chalayan Dislikes: Models-Turned-Designers and the Term "Avant-Garde"

>> Hussein Chalayan admits that he's a "designer's designer," which is probably why he told WWD he's "weirded out by" models-turned-designers. This isn't anything new — in February of last year, he informed the Independent UK that he found Kate Moss designing "kind of insulting . . . because it's like saying — and I don't mean this personally — 'I can sell more clothes off my name, off my brand, than you can, even though you're a better designer.' "  

He seems to have lightened his feelings on Kate specifically, and now says he views her Topshop line as credible, but he's still not totally convinced: “I don’t think it represented her, and I didn’t think she worked hard enough. I even told her to her face.” Her response, as he recalls, was: "‘Oh, I’m just trying to do a light thing; I’m not trying to do anything serious.' But I said, ‘That’s not the point.’”

Don't call him "avant-garde" »

As for other model designers, he stands by last February's statement:

"If you have a really strong sense of style and people want to aspire to being like you, I can understand that. But if you really are doing it just because you think of yourself as a brand and you haven’t had the training and you know nothing about clothes, it kind of demeans all the training that designers have had. 

Models-turned-designers aren't the only issue that tickles Chalayan's ire: he "hate[s]" the term avant-garde. "It’s a real hindrance because I don’t think it expresses what we’re about. It makes it sound like we can’t appeal to people or something, and it’s absolutely rubbish.”

Chalayan was in New York last night to celebrate his new denim collaboration with J Brand, another notch in his new, more commercial-focused philosophy (which is helped along by the fact that PPR took a majority stake in his label in February 2008 when he signed with them to be creative director at Puma). He launched his first ad campaign this season, and now sees the importance of a balance between creativity and commerce: “It’s like a ball and chain. I don’t feel they’re separate."

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