As they unveil their Autumn/Winter 2022 womenswear collection for Kiko Kostadinov, Laura and Deanna Fanning discuss old Hollywood glamour and things that are so cute you have to look away
Despite glitching in and out like a mirage over Zoom from their studio in Wood Green, London – “the WiFi has a witching hour every day” – identical twin sisters Laura and Deanna Fanning are showing me how to collapse a bag from their new Kiko Kostadinov Autumn/Winter 2022 womenswear collection. The pair, who hail from Melbourne, are in sync in more ways than one; they have silken, brunette hair and ponder their answers thoughtfully, before speaking in an almost uniform Australian drawl. Beyond appearances, the Fanning sisters are united in their aesthetic sensibilities too; the pair each did a BA in womenswear (Deanna at Central Saint Martins, Laura at university in Melbourne), and then linked up together for a joint MA at CSM. This is where they first met Kiko – the softly spoken Bulgarian designer, who has become something of a cult classic with his workwear-inspired menswear.
A year after he launched his eponymous brand in 2017, Kiko expressed a desire to expand into womenswear – and decided the twins would be the perfect fit. “It was really right place, right time,” Laura says. “We really liked his work and it made sense. We’re very lucky.” But still, people sometimes think that Laura and Deanna are the same person, not two – or worse, that they don’t exist at all. “It’s one brand, but two creative visions,” says Laura, while Deanna describes it as like “a design school of thought”. More specifically, the twins say that they share an appreciation for garment construction, hybrid footwear, tactile textures, and a healthy level of self-critique (instilled by their time at CSM) with Kiko.
The duo’s new womenswear collection, which was unveiled digitally over the weekend, looked to “sickly cute” girls – “things that are so cute you have to look away because of how disturbing it is” – Art Deco, and old Hollywood glamour, which played out in the barely there, razor-sharp glittering eyebrows. “We wanted to mix these two pathways to build our own sense of this woman that feels elegant, girly but kind of twisted and dark,” explains Laura. If the inspiration behind the collection was sickeningly saccharine, the pastel colours of the clothes – just like always – are so sweet you can almost taste them; the trivia bag, updated here in a glittering green, has a hint of candied apple to it, while the sparkly opera gloves with dipped fingers would be well-suited to Christmas evening festivities.
This element of sweetness, however, can betray the seriousness and complexity of the Fanning twins’ approach to design. The Kiko woman is playful, sure, but she is also sophisticated – and at times, androgynous. Laura talks about the horror of being forced to wear a skirt at school for 18 years – “the first chance you don't have to wear a skirt, you’re like ‘I’m going to find the coolest trousers. I want to wear trousers forever,’” she says. Hence the duo’s exquisitely constructed, panelled, darted and draped trousers. “A big market [in womenswear] is getting those girls that want to go to parties,” laments Deanna. “Many discussions we have with big online retailers is: ‘so where are your frocks?’ and we’ve got a whole collection that’s just not about dresses. We always poke fun at that.” Therein lies this collection’s over-the-top, late-night glamour – here, the Fanning twins have created clothing that would look great on a night out, but simultaneously provokes and humours those who can see beyond its surface.