Well-adored Bulgarian designer Kiko Kostadinov has continually expressed his ability to innovate, refine, and amalgamate various aesthetics. This new collection breaks away from what his fans have known for the past 5 years and ultimately tests whether his cult following will stay true to their support for him.
Known for his unique textile and fabric usage, and his work-wear/uniform referencing. Kostadinov has made a name for himself in intricate construction and utilitarian wear. Kiko is renowned for his forward-thinking and occasionally dystopian looks. On the contrary, aspects of this new collection have the aim to look towards the past. A new mindset, new ethos, and a new method of presentation have each characterised this collection.
This collection was presented digitally, due to the dire circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. His password protected show was prefaced by a film that saw models intimately talking to the camera. Robi Rodriguez’s film direction entailed controversial and retrospective statements carried out within a new rendition of England’s Strawberry Hill House. Dressed as though models were of great privilege and wealth, each cited and chanted sayings referencing consumerism and consumer behaviour. Kiko has espoused his pessimistic thoughts surrounding the show. Such statements glorified the past and cynically disavowed the future.
“Everything’s already happened. Nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again.”
The film, combined with Kiko’s brief aphorisms, set the tone for Kiko’s reinterpretation of aristocratic and Victorian court styling.
Kiko has painted his narrative of his fear that the future will be boring, well-before even carrying out his runway. Potentially, this new ethos could drive away his die-hard fans, those who have coined him godly among menswear designers. Yet it is only timely, due to COVID-19, that someone’s introspection is translated to their work, for better or worse. Kostadinov himself deliberated that he will not give further explanation to the film nor the runway. This show speaks for itself, looking to the past while riling up the devoted supporters to Kiko’s usual collection manner.
S/S 2021 saw the first-ever example of Kiko’s very-own shoe silhouette production, instead of another collaboration with Asics. Having teased this shoe model and the existence of his very-own footwear for a long time, this shoe was highly anticipated. Averse to his sneaker-laden past, he prepared sharp, bold, and powerful square-toed boots. These boots are the most easily appreciated element of the collection, sporting well-thought-out colours of purple, green and blue. Emblazoned with flowers and marquetry, these boots are a call-back to the ‘Rococo’ style 18th Century flair. Famously, the Rococo art style once encompassed decorative arts, architecture, painting, and even sculpture. A Victorian-Esque rooting of the collection’s theme was unexpected (to say the least) from a man of Kiko’s brief yet distinct history.
Progressing beyond the footwear, other collection rudiments did manage to retain some of Kostadinov’s signature components to his garments. Within the pants, were undeniable signature pointed cuffing and distinct hemlines on darted pants reminiscent of 18th Century breeches. Some might say that the ‘slashed elements’ of the collection call back to historical work of Vivienne Westwood, or the more-recent endeavours of Kiko’s CSM graduate alumni Stefan Cooke. Despite this, Kiko’s expert patterning and usage of materials still highlight his progressive thought system, while mirroring the past more than ever before.
The atypical silhouettes of certain outerwear pieces mirror that of Yohji Yamamoto’s drapes. In a way, Kostadinov is indebted to learning silhouette manipulation from Yohji. Kiko has even admitted to being a considerable fan of Yohji’s, once stating in an interview “I don’t wear anything else”.
He has amassed around 30 Yohji suits and over 150 Yohji pieces. Shaped by wrinkles, pleats, and wraps, the outerwear of the show was born of bright colours, bold patterns, akin to jester/renaissance-wear. Kostadinov fools around with symmetry, two-tone looks, and bizarre combinations that trick the admirer’s eye.
Conclusively, the obscure nature of this collection left viewers wondering how some of these pieces would officially be labelled. Beyond his reformed ethos, Kiko has again blurred the perspective of fans with an amalgamation of complex and periodic facets in these new garments. Both the metamorphic and static properties of this collection will ultimately tear Kiko admirers apart, just as they have torn apart conventions of the Royal Victorian Era.
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