Thursday, 22 October 2015

Hussein Chalayan’s Gravity Fatigue sells out in advance of world premiere at Sadler’s Wells next week

Rehearsing for Hussein Chalayan's new dance theatre show Gravity Fatigue.     Photo: Manuel Vason

Tickets for all four shows of Hussein Chalayan’s new dance theatre production Gravity Fatigue have sold out. The show premieres at Sadler’s Wells – the world’s leading dance space – next Wednesday.

Chalayan, 45, returns to the venue that hosted his iconic Afterwords collection back in 2000, when a sitting room was transferred into fashion pieces: armchair covers became stunning dresses the models picked up and put on. A model stepped into the centre of a round coffee table that she hitched around her waist, cascading into a telescopic wooden skirt as she did so. Chairs were folded into suitcases and carried off by the models.

Chalayan's coffee-table skirt
Sadler’s Wells’ artistic director Alistair Spalding watched the “amazing” Afterwords show and instantly fell in love with the Chalayan’s theatrical style. After years of trying to create a dance project with him, he has finally succeeded.

Gravity Fatigue set to be ground-breaking
Two years in the making, Gravity Fatigue marks an important experiment for both Sadler’s Wells and the internationally renowned artist-cum-fashion designer. Normally dance productions are led by the choreographer with others invited to collaborate. Chalayan did not want to play second fiddle, so Spalding found a formula to allow the designer’s ideas and costume creations to shape the show’s concept, which is being performed by 13 dancers and is choreographed by award-winning Belgian Damien Jalet (Babel).

Lacking a dance background, Chalayan auditioned for the dancers in 2014 and has been working with them ever since. Unlike models, he has to cater for a wider range of body shapes: the costumes have to fit, look good on and also enable movement.

Supported by Spalding and Jalet, and music by Parisian outfit Mode-F, the fluid collaborative process has allowed Chalayan’s visual artistry to come alive through the medium of contemporary dance, which he describes as: “Design, movement – it’s almost like art in action.”

Like his fashion collections, this theatrical show will also be elegantly stripped bare: 'I don’t want this to be too dancey – too choreographed or busy,” he told the Telegraph.

The show takes its cue from displacement, identity and invisibility – themes which have figured prominently throughout Chalayan’s career. Originally from Lefkoşa to Turkish Cypriot parents, he has first-hand experience of life in divided Cyprus, where the Turkish side lacks political recognition and so remains non-existent in the eyes of the international community, and where both communities fear transition.

How this plays out on the stage remains to be seen, but as with his past creative endeavours, it is sure to be nothing less than ground-breaking.

Hussein Chalayan at full stretch with his dancers.    Photo: Wallpaper, September 2015

About Hussein Chalayan MBE
Refusing to be pigeon-holed and regarded by his peers and media alike as a creative genius, Hussein Chalayan’s innovative work blurs the boundaries between fashion, art and design.

Born in Lefkoşa in 1970, he attended one the TRNC’s top state schools, Türk Maarif Koleji, before moving to London where he studied Fashion at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

Bjork in Chalayan's Airnail jacket on her album cover
For his debut collection, The Tangent Flows in 1993, he buried iron fillings with his garments in a friend’s garden for three months so they could oxidise and decay, before being dug up and presented at his graduation show that was themed around burial and resurrection. The entire collection was bought by luxury boutique Browns and displayed in their central London store windows, ensuring the buzz about Chalayan continued way beyond fashion circles.

While totally unconventional, his aim is not to shock or rebel, but to explore and present new ideas. Each piece of work has its own narrative and his experimental, cerebral style often involves manipulating new technology and materials that are usually overlooked in the world of fashion.

One of his most renowned creations is the Airmail dress. Inspired by durable envelope paper, this one-size-fits-all garment was both washable and wearable. You could personalise it, and then fold it up and post like an airmail envelope. Chalayan produced a whole series of similar garments made of Tyvex-coated paper, including a jacket that avant-garde pop star Bjork wore on the cover of her 1995 album Post

A partnership with Swarovski that started in 2006 resulted in conceptual art installations for their Swarovski Crystal Palace, and produced some of the most ground-breaking showpieces in recent fashion history. Chalayan’s experiments with crystal led to the creation of the LED Dress in his 2007 Autumn/Winter Collection, which featured 15,600 LEDs layered behind the Swarovski crystal components and the extraordinary Lazer Dress for his Spring/Summer 2008 Collection.

Another pop star to seek out Chalayan’s talent was Lady Gaga. She turned up at the Grammy Awards in 2011 in a futuristic womb that he had designed for her. The singer was carried down the red carpet in her translucent ‘Egg’ where she incubated until it was time for her to perform Born This Way.

A long-time admirer of the Turkish Cypriot designer, Gaga was inspired by the womb-like futuristic pod that featured in his short film Place to Passage. The pod, travelling at speed across different landscapes, reflected Chalayan’s interests in technology, displacement and finding comfort in the nurturing environment of a womb.

Lady Gaga arrives at the Grammys in an 'egg' designed by Hussein Chalayan
In 1999 and again in 2000, he was crowned British Designer of the Year, and in 2006, the Queen awarded him an MBE. He has received numerous other awards and his work exhibited in several major solo shows, including Fashion Narratives at Les Arts Decoratifs in Paris in 2011, 1994-2010 at the Istanbul Modern, and From Fashion and Back which was exhibited in both London and Tokyo.

Production: Gravity Fatigue
Show dates:  Wednesday 28 to Saturday 31 October 2015
Venue: Sadler's Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4TN
Show starts: 7.30pm
Tickets: £12-£38 (returns only, or seats with restricted view)
More info:   the box office on 020 7863 8000 or visit 
                   Hussein Chalayan: 

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