How Female Bandits Inspired Kiko Kostadinov’s New Collection

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Kiko Kostadinov Autumn/Winter 2019 womenswear designers
Kiko Kostadinov Autumn/Winter 2019Photography by Paul Phung

Australian sisters Laura and Deanna Fanning share the story behind their second collection for Kiko Kostadinov

When Bulgarian designer Kiko Kostadinov decided to introduce womenswear to his brand last season, he entrusted Laura and Deanna Fanning, two fresh Central Saint Martins graduates, with the task. His label itself is young (his debut collection was shown in 2017) and the appointment of the duo, who specialise in womenswear and knitwear respectively, has seen the designer’s distinctive design language applied to women’s fashion.

The Australian twins’ first collection was Spring/Summer 2019, and for their sophomore offering, shown yesterday, the designers dealt in contrasts: of materials, colours, textures, silhouettes and of time periods. Influences came by way of 1970s Polish cinema and early 20th-century Mexican ‘bandidas’ (outlaw women), and the sisters channelled a feeling of opulent practicality into the collection, with some silhouettes and techniques recalling sportswear and others corsetry. The same idea of varying silhouettes was applied to the models’ hair and make-up too, as each had her own look, though the thread that connected them was a certain wildness: some ponytails were extra long and impossibly knotty, and colourful make-up was often smudged across the entire face.

Collaboration sits at the core of Kiko Kostadinov: having teamed up with Japanese sportswear brand ASICS for menswear previously, this season saw ASICS shoes on the womenswear runway too, as well as boots created with Camper; and the aforementioned striking hair and make-up looks were the fruits of working with the Japanese creatives Kiyoko Odo and Nami Yoshida. Styled by AnOther’s senior fashion editor Agata Belcen, the feeling was both futuristic and of the past – neatly encapsulated on the show’s invitation, which featured a computer-generated image of a fictional ancient Mayan city. Here, Laura and Deanna expand on their thinking behind the Autumn/Winter 2019 collection in their own words.

“We were thinking of a reimagined past and looking at women around the early 1900s in Mexico – these amazing portraits of ‘bandidas’ and ‘pistoleras’. Although they’re in an antique era, their clothing was really practical: big billowy trousers that had ropes and harnesses around them. There was a really beautiful contrast of clothing, in that there were these fairly practical and masculine pieces – and they were probably actually men’s clothes – and then super feminine pieces, like blouses with a lot of gathering on the sleeves. Some of the photos also have bustiers – uber-feminine – then they would be wearing really narrow flat shoes with skirts that came just below the knee. It’s such an interesting silhouette – and super practical because you can do many more things in a pleated skirt that’s three quarters.

“We were also looking at a film called On The Silver Globe, which was made in the late 1970s in Poland – and then it didn’t air till the late 1980s because it was a controversial film at the time – about astronauts trying to find another world. There were these tribal kind of settlements and the characters had such extreme looks: they would be wearing layers and layers of ratty, dishevelled clothes. Their clothing looked very ritualistic and earthy; a lot of the scenes were shot in caves and there was a sense of ceremony and ritual, something that’s quite gothic but also nomadic. We also found this in the women from the early 1900s: they looked gothic and nomadic and mobile. They looked like they could go where they wanted to go.

“We interpreted these through fabrics and incorporated it into our own design language: heavy velvets and devorés, but then mixing it in with the metallics and sports nylon that we gravitate towards. There’s a recurring element of a panelled bodice with gathering from the shoulder down to the hip, and it looks a bit antique but then the way it’s been cut is super modern because it’s done in three pieces. Even for the narrow silhouettes of the shoes: we’ve done our first collaboration for women with ASICS, so we took the silhouette of the cycling shoe and modified that to suit the collection. We’re also working with ASICS on undergarments, layering – they’re sportswear, so it’s nice to contrast that with bigger skirts and gatherings.

“Of course we find these images really romantic but we actually don’t know their struggles, we’ll never get the nuances because we weren’t there. So that’s what we found interesting building the collection because it’s not ethnographically correct – and fashion collections never will be when they’re referencing the past, but that’s what brings something new. A reinterpretation and a hybrid of elements.”