Hussein Chalayan

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Dissolving Coat PFW
Image source: Hussein Chalayan

With the Paris shows coming to a close this week, Fashion Month is now over. But what did Paris Fashion Week bring to the table in terms of tech? From light-up sandals to dissolvable dresses and bags that can showcase your favourite films, it seems that Paris loves its wearables. Here are just five of our top tech moments from the French capital.

Hussein Chalayan’s Dissolvable Dresses

“If you don’t take risks in the fashion world, you stay static,” says Hussein Chalayan. A perfectly valid reason, then, to make two of his designs dissolve on his SS16 runway. At the end of Chalayan’s show, two models stood calmly under a running shower and slowly – magically – their white, water-soluble shirt dresses broke down to reveal beautiful Swarovski-embellished gowns underneath.

As well as being yet another tech-meets-design triumph for Chalayan, who has a reputation for bringing a performance art element to his shows, this particular fashion moment went viral online.

Anrealage’s Light Show

Japanese designer Kunihiko Morinaga, the brains behind young brand Anrealage, challenged his audience to change the way they see clothes on the runway. Show attendees were invited to use the flash on their cameras when photographing the clothes, which were constructed using photosensitive fabric. Under harsh, bright flashlight, the colour of the clothes transformed. Putting the fun element aside, however, was this perhaps a bit too gimmicky to translate anywhere away from the runway?

Tom Ford & Lady Gaga Join Forces

Tom Ford shunned a generic runway presentation this season, instead opting to showcase his latest wares through the medium of video – music video, to be precise. Guest-starring Lady Gaga, who also provided the short film’s soundtrack, the video showcases Ford’s gaudy eveningwear in an engaging way, showing a ‘fun’ side of fashion that isn’t often seen at Paris Fashion Week. “Having a runway show has become so much about the creation of imagery for online and social media,” Ford explained. “I wanted to think about how to present a collection in a cinematic way.”

Diana Broussard’s Customisable Video Bag

Despite hailing from New York, accessories designer Diana Broussard decided to wait until Paris Fashion Week to showcase her latest design: a Plexiglas shoulder bag with an LCD video screen. The dbChronicle bag, which will retail for $1,950, can either play a video of the consumer’s choice, or a generic, so-called “aspirational” video created by Broussard and her team. Recharging the bag is as simple as plugging it into your laptop via a USB cable.

Old-School Wearables at Chanel

Even if live streaming didn’t exist, Chanel shows would still become trending topics on Twitter. The brand hardly pushes boundaries with its approach to tech, but it probably doesn’t need to – the ever extravagant, themed, expensive sets are a spectacle in themselves that never fail to hit Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat feeds all over the world.

Similarly, the celebrity hype surrounding the brand – both on the front row with Lily-Rose Depp and on the catwalk with Kendall Jenner – speaks for itself. However, Lagerfeld did bring some more tech into the mix for SS16 in the form of light-up Teva-style sandals, bringing back memories of 90s trainers with flashing soles.

Join us at our Milan Summit on November 17-18 to see how luxury brands are pushing tech to enhance their brand offering. Book your ticket here.

Reported by Grace Howard

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Speaking candidly on day one of the 2015 Decoded Fashion London Summit, Hussein Chalayan explored technology’s ability to connect brands with consumers in more meaningful ways, the effect of FOMO (fear of missing out) on fashion consumption, and the growth of slow fashion.

During his keynote speech yesterday at Decoded’s fashion and technology conference, the influential British designer noted how, thanks to social media and the immediacy of digital technology, designers can reach wide audiences faster and in more meaningful ways than previously thought possible.

“Technology is actually an ideal form of communication for fashion designers, who often, and understandably, prefer to communicate non-verbally,” he said. “In the traditional sense, many fashion designers are not that articulate.”

Chalayan, who is known for his creative use of tech in his fashion collections, sees technology as the key driver for true innovation in the industry. “Fashion is a regurgitation of before,” he said. “You are judged on how you combine and curate elements and how you present them. I think of technology as the only tool you have to truly do new things.”

The designer also spoke of social media’s role in fostering the connection between consumers and celebrities – noting that the upcoming collaboration between Swedish high-street retailer H&M and French fashion house Balmain has as much to do with creative director Olivier Rousteing’s 1.1 million Instagram followers as it does with the label’s clout. “It’s a unifying force,” he said. “It’s about knowing and feeling the same as other people.”

Chalayan also discussed his belief that there is likely to be a backlash against the pressure caused by FOMO in fashion. “If people don’t have the latest thing that retailers tell them they need, they feel like they miss out,” said Chalayan. Katie Baron, head of Retail at Stylus, also discussed the topic of FOMO (a phenomenon catalysed by social media) and how shrewd luxury brands are deliberately tapping it to drip-feed information to consumers. This states their need for constant information, but without the inherent damage of speeding up production times. For more on this, see Virtual Added Value.

As part of that backlash against the need for instant fashion gratification, Chalayan sees himself as a producer of slow fashion. “Definitely like ‘slow food’, it’s happening – this is the way it needs to go,” he said, before elaborating on his desire for passion and craftsmanship, and a consumer who is educated and considered about their purchases.

Guest post by Lisa Payne