We’re often told that ‘fashion’ and ‘fantasy’ are closely linked, but sometimes the only fantasy in a fashion collection is that of actually owning anything on the catwalk. At the end of the day, designers have to please the buyers – and who can blame them really. Even if a collection is a hit with the press, if nobody wants to buy it, then they’re sunk. It’s easy to see how such pressure could stifle a designer’s creative impulses, in spite of their best intentions.
Kinder Aggugini’s dark and mystical collection added a healthy sprinkle of fairydust to London Fashion Week. Looking at the notes before the show I was intrigued – citing the Cottingley Fairies hoax as the designer’s main inspiration, I couldn’t wait to see what he would come up with. In 1917, two young girls from Yorkshire, Elsie and Frances, created photographs that seemed to prove the existence of fairies. They caused a sensation – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was one of their biggest champions, and many people generally believed that the photographs were evidence of supernatural creatures. The beautiful, haunting images they created and the hype they generated are certainly an amazing feat considering they lived in a pre-PhotoShop/Mail Online/Social Media age. And rich pickings for a fashion collection…
I wasn’t sure what to expect really, but the collection seemed to interpret the unusual inspiration cited in the show notes in even more unexpected ways. Aggugini variously interpreted the ethereal images themselves, which were echoed in prints. The designer is well-known for his use of pattern and for autumn/winter 13, his images of ghost-like fairies in an imaginary forest were hand-drawn on floor-sweeping frocks and simple patchwork silk dresses. Quirky patterns ranged from delicate Art Nouveau-style fairy prints to a gargantuan, tongue-in-cheek mushroom pattern.
The collection also played with different vintage styles, including Edwardian influences, given a distinctly modern twist. Buttoned-up maxi dresses, generously-proportioned bell sleeves and delicate lace evoked a contemporary take on early 20th century styles.
The designer’s dark humour shone through too. A pattern of ‘escaping moths’ (as Aggugini described them) was embroidered on top of shredded organza, creating the impression that the dress had been living in a dusty trunk for decades. Black bugle beads contoured the embroidery – catching the light, these added a sense of movement as if the moths were escaping from the tattered remnants of the dress.
Evidence of Aggugini’s Savile Row tenure could be seen in the collection’s beautifully tailored outerwear and constructed silhouettes – from a dramatic, midnight velvet cape, to a black tartan cocoon coat with tail trims and a stunning Italian wool ‘kilt-coat’. Vintage elements could be detected here too; a stunning soft yellow knife-pleat coat (first image in this post) was one of my favourite looks.
The shoes were by cult clog makers Swedish Hasbeens and offered just the right level of chunkyness and insouciance to the delicate dresses and girly matching socks by Purdey. In all, I loved it – I couldn’t help feeling like I wanted just a little bit more, because of the endless possibilities of the collection’s starting point – but the collection was ladylike and polished with a hint of punk, fit for a modern day fairy tale.
It was all in the little touches too – a polka dot print decorated the catwalk in the beautifully lit room of the ME Hotel. Surrounded by views of the London skyline, a Hansel and Gretel-style trail of polka dots lead us through an otherworldly collection.