Kiko Kostadinov: Menswear AW23

Kiko Kostadinov strived to make something new this season. Something that could simultaneously be turbulent, unsettled and vying for release, whilst also thriving inside the restrictive citadel of “menswear”. Chiselling away at its edges, Kostadinov applied a revisionist slant to four forgotten figures of the avant-garde Italian womenswear design canon. The unsung influences of French-born designer Anne-Marie Beretta (who designed Max Mara’s distinctive 101801 camel coat), Milanese titan (by the late Mariuccia Mandelli), the American costume designer Irene Lentz and the Roman couturier sisters Sorelle Fontana, mingled with gestures from the graduate collection of Laura and Deanna Fanning – Kostadinov’s closest collaborators – who design the brand’s womenswear line. 

The garments were hybrid and modular. Suits were stripped of all structure and reassembled again; asymmetric jackets manipulated and cut to v-line hems at hip-height; detachable padded overcoats became boleros and belted skirts. Voluminous fluid trousers were irregularly patchworked and tucked into highwayman boots or flowing over lace-up derbies and wave-sole scratch trainers.

Fragments of figurative canine forms and abstract colour fields by London-based Estonian painter Mariann Metsis were applied as digital prints to intarsia knitwear and sculptural hardware, implemented in the same way Krizia incorporated animalia into her own collections. Elsewhere, the recurring blanket scarf and hooded garments echoed the opus of Beretta. 

With an almost folkloric elegance, KK clad models walked by us with their tangerine hair and natural dreads, intermittently dropping a chichi hip and pose. Childlike flowers and little handlebar moustaches were doodled around their eyes and mouths. On their clothes, prints of naïve découpage crafts by Kostadinov’s maternal grandmother cropped up. It all felt very youthful, fun and free, mischievously intertwining binary codes so that men’s silhouettes were corrupted and conventional distinctions became blurred as the show came to a whimsical and wonderful close. 

Photography courtesy of Kiko Kostadinov.

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