Kiko Kostadinov: Personal salvation through fashion
Whatever way Britain leaves, or doesn’t, the European Union this winter, it was refreshing to see that the opening show of the capital’s latest menswear runway season on a wet Friday evening was by a Bulgaria-born designer.
Kiko Kostadinov, a quirky and all-round energetic figure, displayed all of the talent for which he is noted in the first catwalk show of the season, known here as London Fashion Week Men’s.
It was one of some four score of brands, which will stage shows or presentations over three-and-a-half days in London.
Kostadinov unveiled his collection in Barbican, the capital of that uniquely British architectural movement – New Brutalism. But the location turned out to be the Great Hall of the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers of London, a hyper stucco room with oil paintings of London mayors. And an ideal setting for Kostadinov, who has moved on from his former yen for work-wear and uniforms to a newer opulent stage in his oeuvre.
Instead, we got an assemblage of racing checks, fluid tailoring, posh athleticism, colourful country Wellington boots and some great Restoration wigs. Could have been a complete mess, but was, in fact, a charmed fashion moment.
“I’d been watching this Netflix documentary on the Kentucky Derby, and what struck me is the way we complain about working hard for six months to do a 15-minute show, while those jockeys bust their gut for a year for just a chance to ride in a two-minute race,” smiled Kostadinov backstage.
Hence, plaid checks and harlequin pattern silks were the key fabrics, used in bold party shirts, dandy redingotes and marvellously fluid suits. His clothes were attention-seeking, beseeching even, but isn’t that why one comes to shows in London?
“My team and these models like to dress up and look good,” noted Kostadinov.
He also showed the latest sneakers in his collaborative partnership with Asics, notably some punchy green and white lattice versions. That said, his best footwear was a series of rubber boots with a difference - made with constructive patterns and in sherbet hues - ideal for an editorial shoot. Gone indeed was the dark, utilitarian ethos of earlier Kostadinov collections.
“I think each season, even if you always include some signature looks, you have to set out to create something really new. And to do that you have to begin with a blank white page,” smiled the designer.
Even though he is still barely out of college, Kostadinov is already an acclaimed name. He was a semi-finalist in this year’s LVMH Prize. In 2017, he had already showed in Paris – introducing 'Mackintosh 0003', a cool futurist collection for the UK rainwear brand he designed.
An MA graduate of Central Saint Martins, Kostadinov was the first menswear student to be awarded the New Gen Men British Fashion Council Support directly after graduating. His debut collection was presented at London Collections: Men in June 2016. Kostadinov also creates in-store installations for Dover Street Market London, Ginza and New York.
Some guests leaving the event retired to a nearby pub, the Lord Raglan, famed in fashion for inventing the mutton chop sleeve.
Others wandered into a nearby church in Aldersgate, which commemorates John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and the site where he first developed the doctrine of personal salvation by faith; which surely mimics the philosophy of the young audience at this telling Kostadinov show, and their doctrine of personal salvation through fashion.
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