Kiko Kostadinov Creates Memories of the Future for AW21
A sprawling and cerebral reinterpretation of the label’s identity by the menswear innovator.
In a time like this when it’s a struggle to find structure, maybe the best way to adapt is to eschew it all together. Kiko Kostadinov must have taken that to heart when creating his AW21 collection, which combined a wide range of colors, fabrics, and shapes in a kaleidoscopic meeting of references. While his primary inspiration this season was the concept of ‘hauntology,’ a term coined by philosopher Jacques Derrida to denote the return of elements from the past, his ethos as a designer has always been to create that which doesn’t already exist in fashion, thus imbuing his collections with a futurism that was always hard to pin down. So if the elements of the brand’s past are fleeting dreams of the future, then applying a hauntological approach—deconstructing the identity and origin his design language—only reveals non-linearity and the loose, diverting threads of collections past.
Let’s pause. If this all sounds too metaphysical for pandemic reading (though, could there be a better time for that?), Kostadinov also cited inspiration from Christopher Priest’s 1977 science-fiction novel A Dream of Wessex, imaging a virtual reality future, and Patience Grey’s autobiographical cookbook Honey From a Weed depicting her culinary adventure foraging and cooking across the Mediterranean. All of these ideas came together for 30 looks which see Kostadinov offering a fresh take on the brand—pea coats and cricket sweaters were a surprising nod to traditional garments, while floral patterned pyjama silks and French tweed blousons add a delicate touch to his signature theme of utilitarianism—with the familiar: jackets with asymmetrical fastenings, detached aprons hanging off the waist, contrasting panels on blazers with matching trousers, and sporty footwear reimagined.
That’s where the concept of hauntology returns, and the non-linearity suddenly begins to make sense. The hallmarks of the brand have been extrapolated and stretched out to create something sprawling and new, but it still feels distinctly personal, as if we’re mapping out the mind of the designer in real time. In the most tangible representation of his approach, the 30 looks were expanded to 90 looks on the brand’s website, viewable as a randomized triptych of the same pieces styled in multiple ways, creating entirely different silhouettes. That aspect of the collection may have been the most emblematic of the brand; devotees of Kostadinov pride themselves in mixing and matching pieces from different seasons, and the brand itself regularly styles online store products with past, future, or never-released items from its history. Kiko Kostadinov was never meant to be worn one way, and for AW21, that eclecticism is placed at the forefront.
This type of undertaking feels right for the time; we’re collecting ideas from every angle but have few places to exercise them. Instead we’re all looking inward, and Kostadinov responded by creating a collection that’s a deep exploration of identity. Upon first glance Kiko Kostadinov AW21 may appear as a hodgepodge of fashion corralled together—and in the best way, it is—but this is Kostadinov at his most idiosyncratic, inquisitive, and artistic self yet.