HEROES & VILLAINS: Hussein Chalayan on Kate Bush

The fashion designer (below) finds inspiration in a musical heroine

I FIRST heard her in the late Seventies when I was living in Cyprus. My uncle had returned from a trip to London with a video of a British documentary about Abba, and Kate Bush was the guest star. She stuck in my mind for years after, and when I came to London - at about 12 - I started to buy her records.

The first thing I bought, in the early Eighties, was the single from her Hounds of Love album, and then I started to rewind and buy all her old stuff - I think I've got everything now. Everybody just associates her with "Wuthering Heights". I'm not really into her very commercial stuff, I'm more into the songs that most people don't know about, like "The Ninth Way", which is a masterpiece, really.

I thought she was this amazing person that in some ways I could relate to. I felt that the work was such a bridge between fantasy and reality, and there was so much spirit in it. I just wanted to know everything about her work. I didn't become interested in her in that typical fan way; I didn't ever buy books about her, I was more interested in her as an artist and almost as a poet, rather than in a poppy "Oh I'm a fan, I want to put her picture up on my wall" way.

To me, she's an emotional thinker, she's somebody who made her emotions real through the music. There were so many references to emotions and to failure and to the good and the bad, your relationship to nature, and your relationship to other people and I just felt it was so much richer than most stuff that was happening at the time.

When I hear the music it makes me think that everything around me is wonderful. At times it's like almost like hearing a prayer, at other times it's like lunacy, and other times it's just incredible engineering. In my view she deserves a lot more credit, but maybe the fact that she didn't become too mainstream has made her remain more special.

And although she has a gorgeous voice what really struck me was the way she used it and the way it worked with other instruments. It animated everything else. She used these Bulgarian folk musicians on one of her albums, and then, later, I found some Bulgarian singers and used them for one of my shows, the one called "Afterwords", where I had the seats turned into suitcases, and the table into a skirt.

I listen to her music a lot when I'm working because I find that I know it so well that I don't need to think about it, but it does heighten my spirit. And yeah, of course I sing along, who doesn't? But she's not the easiest person to sing along with, so I sort of hum to it.

She's a heroine for me because she's never cared too much about public opinion. She's done her own thing and I think that in her heart she knows that she did well, up to a point. She was very experimental and before her time, and I think that can set an example for visual people like myself. I'm not saying that I based my career on her, but she inspired me to do my own thing and achieve something.

I think she was one of the first artists that made a connection between her visual work and her music. And then came Grace Jones, and then Madonna, and then Bjork. I think it became like a world, the ultimate Kate Bush world, where you heard the sound, and then you looked at the videos and the imagery that went with it. That's why I found it so convincing, because I felt like there was this genuine passion for ideas.

I'm not easily impressed. But she did with music what other people have done with writing. It's incredibly inventive and forward-thinking. I always wanted my work to have that level of openness.

I did write to her once, about 10 years ago. I was doing this project about women's roles in fairy tales. I really wanted her to get involved, although I didn't know how and I was much more audacious at that time about approaching people. I got a long message on my answering machine from her manager, saying "Oh, Kate read your letter, blah blah, but Kate already has a designer who she works with." And I thought, "Hang on a minute! I never meant to say I wanted to design for you, I wanted to involve you in the project." But, you know, I think in just writing the letter to her, it helped me articulate my ideas for myself. E

From 17 April to 4 September 2005, the Groningen Museum in the Netherlands will display the first large-scale solo exhibition of Hussein Chalayan's work.

people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Anaylst

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

    Long Term Primary Teacher - Stockport - Start ASAP

    £90 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Manchester Primary: Experienced Primary...

    Science Teacher

    £100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Science Teacher - South Es...

    NQT Secondary Teachers

    £100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is actively r...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering