Entering Mecca disciples leave all their materialistic belongings behind and enter in identical white robes, an act that symbolically means they are viewed as equals in the eyes of God. In this sacred uniform, a man who has saved all his life to visit Mecca could be praying next to a billionaire.
I started going round to his for dinner at the end of autumn, when the leaves were on the point of falling, when the runners started wearing fleecy swathes of cotton bonded to their ears and hands. He avoided corn, and gluten, also dairy – foods that he decided made him ‘fatally apocalyptic.’ He strained his own nut milk using a mesh pouch which he had bought online, and stored batches of red quinoa and adzuki beans in his fridge.
Hussein Chalayan became known as a ‘conceptual designer’ in the 1990s and it’s been bugging him ever since. Rather than getting attention for his more extraordinary designs (there have been dresses made of giant plastic bubbles, a table turning into a skirt, LED lights and lasers incorporated into garments as well as black chadors either covering or exposing the naked bodies of his models), he would like the focus to be on his wearable clothes, the stuff that people actually buy.
In writing of experience or beauty, a cloth emerges as if made
from a twin existence. It’s July
4: air is full of mistaken stars & the wiggly half-zeroes stripes
make when folded into fabric meant
But she dared not look in the glass. She could not face the whole horror – the pale yellow, idiotically old-fashioned silk dress with its long skirt and its high sleeves and its waist and all the things that looked so charming in the fashion book, but not on her, not among all these ordinary people. She felt like a dressmaker’s dummy standing there, for young people to stick pins into.
Some days she flicks through the clothes hangers but finds nothing to wear. She doesn’t find it because she does not know what she is looking for. She picks out a silky shirt and dark trousers. The garments feel all wrong. Clothes that don’t quite match, trousers that don’t quite fit. Short of time, she leaves to meet the day, meet him. He says she’s beautiful. His words are ill fitting too.
In 2009 FIDM Museum in Los Angeles, exhibited Betsy Bloomingdale’s vast collection of haute couture, donated to the museum over some forty years. The wardrobe, amassed between 1961 and 1996, includes pieces from Marc Bohan for Dior, Oscar De La Renta, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and André Courrèges, among others. For Vestoj’s inaugural issue, On Material Memories, the collector is interviewed by Kevin Jones, Curator and Christina Johnson, Collections Manager at the museum.