In a season when celebrity-packed front rows are ten-a-penny, and the battle for buzz feels more frenetic than ever, it’s refreshing to attend a show like the one Kiko Kostadinov staged in the gymnasium of the Lycée Henri IV in Paris’s Latin Quarter. The brand generates its fair share of likes on social media, but it also has that rarest of patronages: a cult following.
You can chart it in the angular Trivia shoulder bags and the chunky sneaker-soled ballet slipper-boots (both Bella Hadid-approved, FYI), the cropped sweaters in sickly-sweet colors and the convertible paneled blouses that have been easy to spot around Fashion Week. And it was pleasing to clock the genuine fan girls at the brand’s fall show, out to support twin-sister duo Laura and Deanna Fanning in their bubble-hem skirts and cargo pants mixed in with pieces from their wardrobes. To use that most overused of fashionable adjectives, their looks felt authentic.
There was lots for the Kiko girl to like here. In their sophomore season in Paris, the designers used antique lingerie as a springboard for a collection that played with construction and concealment. The first looks explored cloaking, cut-outs and compartments, with draped T-shirt dresses worn nonchalantly over layered pants segueing into halter-neck cotton tops and zippered jackets with necklines cut to peel off the body. Then came the deftly shaped trousers for which they’re known, and the striped knit maxi dresses in jolie-laide shades. They also embraced the use of tulle for the first time, subverting the characteristically princessy fabric by adding tulle ruffles to boyish paneled trousers and splicing it with jersey to hem body-skimming dresses and skirts. “We had two words for this collection, bold but still quite delicate,” Deanna said backstage, by way of summary. If at times the effect was a little homemade, well, you forgave them: the pieces still had a sportswear edge which made them look offbeat in a good way.
Then there’s the new hybrid accessory: the Lella shoe, which blends a driving shoe, a ballet slipper and a bowling brogue, and is named after the Italian race car driver Lella Lombardi, the only female driver to score points in Formula One. “We view the collection as a hybrid between lingerie and outerwear, so with the shoe we wanted something that showed action,” said Laura. Futuristic and nostalgic at the same time, it hit upon the girls’ magic formula. You can bet Bella Hadid will be wearing them soon, and not because her stylist told her to.