CHALAYAN AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR PARIS FASHION WEEK
“Has it occurred to you that there are many clues in this room?” The answer to that question—as posed by Albert Finney’s Hercule Poirot in Sidney Lumet’s 1974 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express—was today, sadly, a no. For despite Hussein Chalayan’s hints, none of the resident runway sleuths gathered backstage with him afterward detected that his collection was an ode to Christie’s mystery. As with all well-crafted whodunits, however, once that crucial fact was revealed, each previously confounding detail fell neatly into logical place. So then—let us examine the evidence.
Exhibit A: Suspense and implied violence—Christie’s murder was a vicious stabbing—were suggested via the chopped-at shoulders of an opening faux-fur shawl jacket and the slashes at the back of a black turtleneck shawl. Cloche and dagger had met at the cut left ear of Chalayan’s hats.
Exhibit B: Two jacquards—of mountains and of snow spotted on tartan—pointed to the snowstorm that stopped the train on the night Christie’s victim was bloodily dispatched. Another jacquard, of half-linked circles and diagonal blocks, was directly inspired by a pattern worn by Hildegarde Schmidt, the stonily suspicious cook from the film. And the embroidered figures on Hussein’s halter-neck dresses were mug shots of Poirot’s suspects.
Exhibit C: Strangeness on a compartmentalized train was communicated via the skirts and dresses with detachable pleated “curtains” that looped under the knee. The utilitarian wear—leather dungarees, combats, monkey boots—was Chalayan’s nod to the stokers and boilers that Christie herself pretty much ignored in the original story. Although seemingly slight, Chalayan’s Orient Express conceit was an admirable vehicle for his own fabric-borne brand of mystery—which was, in its way, every bit as polished and ingenious as Christie’s. A killer collection.