Blurring the Physical and Digital, Kim Shui Shines at New York Fashion Week
The NYC-based creative speaks to V on her dynamic Fall/Winter ‘22 collection, foray into the Metaverse, and revitalized aesthetic direction.
“How do you create something sexy that isn’t just about showing skin? How do we give the effect of sexy in a different way?” For Kim Shui, this ever-present debate was at the forefront of the designer’s high-octane, Y2K-infused Fall/Winter 2022 runway show.
Shui—whose slinky, pastel body-con dresses are a forever go-to for the likes of Kylie Jenner, Bella Hadid, Cardi B, and more—has repackaged her signature sex-fueled aesthetic this season through a thoughtful focus on outerwear and party-ready silhouettes. First garnering the industry’s attention in 2016, Shui has steadily become a much anticipated mainstay on the NYFW calendar—and this season was no different. “It’s flirty this season, like a wink. Even if you’re covered and the dress is not sheer, it’s still going to come off as ‘wow, that’s really sexy,’” the designer explained to V.
Fashion-wise, the collection revamped the unbridled sex appeal Shui has come to master, albeit more subtly than previous seasons. Kitschy fur coats, vegan leather mini skirts, and reimagined tweeds proved that Shui’s design know-how spans well beyond the realm of extra-tight separates and into the world of quiet femininity. While sheer tops with dragon embroidery and lace-up trousers are tried and true silhouettes for the brand, new design ventures included exposed seam detailing and fur-trimmed tweeds that certainly proved the playful versatility of the age-old fabric.
Veering from the skin-baring silhouettes that have dominated the designer’s prior showings, Shui deepened the narrative around the woman she designs for and proved that layering can be sexy—especially when lace up bustiers and ultra-cropped blazers are sartorial focal points.
Coarse textures like brushed vegan leathers and the aforementioned tweeds are a nod to the designer’s first collections and explore femininity through a fresh, multi-dimensional lens. “There’s a pillar of the brand that I felt wasn’t further refined and I wanted to bring some of those elements back and introduce them to the girl today,” Shui explained in an interview with V. “There’s some sheer, but we plug in a lot of different textures [like] vegan fur. There’s something about fur that is a fetish, too. There’s always an element of fetish in there.”
Coinciding with the brand’s energetic ready-to-wear and pastel-hued separates, Shui unveiled an NFT initiative which she coined ‘Serenity Keys.’ The three one-of-a-kind digital jade keys were crafted by the designer and are an interactive way for followers of the brand to further immerse themselves in the Kim Shui world. “I’m seeing more female-led projects and initiatives in the [NFT] space, but it was something that I felt there was a lot of opportunity in,” the Chinese-American designer said.
Not only venturing into the Metaverse, Shui also incorporated a tangible element to the digital NFTs: purchasers received a physical version of the dress of their choice as well as two invitations to the brand’s Fall/Winter 2022 runway show. “If I’m going to get a dress and a show ticket, I would want to buy an NFT,” Shui noted. “If I were already buying the dress, why not buy the dress and an NFT? It’s a way to encourage more women to participate.”
Kim Shui’s Fashion Week shows are always a must-see. You are sure to catch the stylish front row donning the label’s signature colorful mesh dresses while the collection’s thumping music—which this year included a mashup of Mariah Carey’s ‘Obsessed’ and Destiny’s Child’s ‘Jumpin Jumpin’—is sure to have attendees tapping their feet and humming along. With a handful of brands opting for fully digital presentations this season, Shui proved the value of blending in-person spectacle with community-based digital experience.
According to Shui, fashion hasn’t gone fully virtual just yet, and merging elements of tangible experience with technology-based initiatives is an assured future for the buzzy brand and the industry as a whole. “The future of fashion is going to have a lot of ties into the digital and physical, so it’s a pretty interesting space [and] it is something that we will definitely be exploring a lot in the future.”