Kiko Kostadinov AW21 is a wardrobe to be seen on the streets in
Laura and Deanna Fanning served up 29 looks of government-sanctioned-daily-walk chic.
Photography Haydon Perrior. Images courtesy of Kiko Kostadinov
Long before it became a pandemic trend, Laura and Deanna Fanning were staunch advocates of the meandering urban stroll. In an ironic twist of fate, though, while the rest of us have been discovering the vigour-giving benefits of a good, long walk over the past year, the twin sisters at the helm of Kiko Kostadinov womenswear have hardly had any time for one themselves. “It’s something we’ve really missed!” Deanna sighs, “To be honest, we're kind of workaholics, so the past six months, or year even, hasn't really offered us too many opportunities to get out of our working environment. We really miss watching people and seeing things that keep you going and inspire you and remind you why you're doing fashion.” “And also why you live in a big city!” Laura adds.
In many respects, they echo the spirit of the flâneur -- that brooding archetype of early modernity, immortalised by Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin, who sauntered Paris’ arcades and boulevards, tapping into the creative energy that pulsed through the living city’s heart. It’s an ethos and energy that they placed at the heart of their AW21 collection, a body of work that both celebrates, and anticipates the return of, the noble art of flânerie… albeit with a twist.
“Flâneur is a word in the French dictionary but flâneuse” -- its grammatical feminine counterpart -- "is not. It's a concept that's never been afforded to women,” notes Deanna. “We wanted to look at it from a purely female perspective,” she continues, to reimagine and create a wardrobe for the contemporary flâneuse.
Naturally, there’s a focus on comfort and movement. Square necked tops, dresses and an abbreviated jumpsuit are fashioned in bright, micro-cable knit stripes, engineered to allow for uninhibited stretch. And swathes of radiating polka-dot satin are sensuously draped to create trailing skirts that hitch up into halter neck dresses, sashes that snake through belt loops on the jigsaw panelled boiler suits, and collared dresses with flamboyant, flared sleeves.
These ocular patterns reference prints worn by the stylish subjects snapped in STREET magazine, the Japanese chronicle of the ‘80s and ‘90s street fashion scenes in major cities across the world. “We specifically looked at images from London and Paris,” Laura says, “because they’re the places we were missing the most.” These images of attendees lingering outside fashion show venues and people simply passing by then became the fuel for some of the collection’s bolder silhouettes. The waisted wool felt coats with warped pocket flaps, for example, hark back to “an image of a woman wearing a military jacket walking down the street; she really looks like she's claiming the space, strutting to somewhere she needs to be,” says Laura. That sense of uncompromising presence is also conveyed through cropped jackets and evening coats collaged from wool and eco-faux fur -- a fabric the sisters first began working with in AW20 -- while duchess satin trousers with skirt overlays inserted into darts running down the leg swish and rustle when walked in. “It's a sound that's quite glamorous is a way,” Laura says, “it's so particular and you're instantly drawn to looking at a person. It really makes you notice someone walking through a space.”
Indeed, these are clothes that create statements, though not blaring ‘look-at-me!’ kind. Rather, they ooze a quietly assured, off-kilter poise; an impeccable, magnetic weirdness. The most concrete token of that is, without doubt, the first-ever Kiko Kostadinov handbag, a warped baguette in a sturdy polished leather. Modelled on cultish mini-bags from the nineties and early aughts, the sisters developed it with the intention of creating something with the same collector’s item appeal, albeit with a slightly tougher edge. “With the small bags we love from that era, you have to be really precious with them,” Deanna says, “we often find ourselves wishing that they were a bit more industrial.” Indeed, preciousness is one thing you won’t find much of here. For all this season’s aesthetic panache, it’s a collection made to be worn. Come September, when our cities’ streets throng with life once again, these will be the clothes to walk, and to be seen walking, in.