Past Meetup

Event is now sold out: The School of Life - Hussei Chalayan on fitting in

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Please note that this event is now sold out. If you don't have a ticket you won't be able to join the sermon.

Yes, the school's name might be a little bit pretentious! Nonetheless, there is an interesting lecture on "fitting in" by British/Turkish Cypriot fashion designer Hussein Chalayan.

I think the experience of feeling isolated, of not fitting in, creates the urge to explore.
—Hussein Chalayan

We’re social animals: we need to belong. And if we want to belong, we’d better fit in. Or at least that’s what we learn from the classroom and the office. But Hussein Chalayan wants to show us how not fitting in, despite common sense, is a creative virtue that may even expand our sense of belonging.

By his own account, Chalayan has never quite fitted in. He spent a childhood bouncing between war-torn Cyprus and the UK. Today he is known as a world-leading fashion designer. But his catwalk shows are intricate performances, and his collections extend to experimental films and gallery installations, troubling those who like to keep fashion away from philosophy and art, or prefer designers to settle into a ‘style’.

In this sermon Chalayan will share the projects that he calls his “life studies”, made to help him understand the world. One investigates how national events transform our personal identities, another changes disgust to an appreciation of beauty, and another probes the magical, inexpressible and hidden. His work is a category-defying series of provocations to question and transform what we take for reality.

So where does this exuberant curiosity and constant shape-shifting come from? Chalayan explains that the once-painful experience of not fitting in has liberated him as an adult. “My strategy for creative self-renewal,” he says, “is to be a migrant – dislocated, never settled.” He will show how this life philosophy lets us stay curious and questioning, and be much more than a fixed self. It allows us to be multiple, to be more than one thing, to transform and grow. And it frees us to belong to more than one culture, place and people at once.

About the course leader

Hussein Chalayan has twice won British Designer of the Year for an extraordinary body of experimental projects. He has made living room furniture that turns into clothes, dresses that transform by remote control, and a coat with a hidden invitation. His influences range from airport architecture to Samurai rituals to Turkish classical music to Marc Auge and Roland Barthes. His collections have included an experimental film with Tilda Swinton and a performance with Alison Lapper and Michael Clark.

You can book the ticket at the following web address (£15.00):

Please only RSPV once you got a ticket.

After the event, we'll go for drinks/lunch and a nice conversation at COCO MOMO HOLBORN (64 Theobalds Road WC1X 8SF) (

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