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Hussein Chalayan’s SS16 collection was about Cuba. “Though some designers go to India and get inspired and come back and do some Indian embroidery, I try to learn from the experience,” he said backstage. This would not be an homage to Che Guevara — despite the military flavour.
Chalayan had wanted the collection to examine the evolution of cultural style within a hermetically sealed society, and his looks wavered between sharp drill tailoring, deconstructed uniforms and playful prints and dresses. He had created a cartoon character, “the Plonk”, a little dancing ant motif that played on ruffled dresses and the designer’s own cotton T-shirt. The Plonk had helped fuse the themes of colonial and tropical, and the dresses were Chalayan’s celebration of the island’s sartorial signatures. “Why should a place be validated by western styles?” he shrugged. “Cuba is a beautiful place.”
At the show’s centre stood two girls dressed in papery lab coats. At the halfway point the showers were turned on and the coats dissolved into a pulpy gloop to reveal exquisite crystal embellished gowns. This sartorial metaphor for transition was not without peril — the models skidded around on their wood-soled heels for the rest of the show. But it was worth it for the gown’s Swarovski crystal coconuts glinting underneath.
For more reports from the shows, go to our fashion weeks page on FT.com