Kim Shui Explores a Softer Sexy for FW20

Kim Shui Explores a Softer Sexy for FW20

The celebrated designer, a favorite of the fashionable crowd, presents a more subtle aesthetic for Fall/Winter 2020.

The celebrated designer, a favorite of the fashionable crowd, presents a more subtle aesthetic for Fall/Winter 2020.

Text: Alex Blynn

Cool girls wear Kim Shui. It’s just a fact. Gigi and Bella, Kehlani, Rico Nasty, Azealia Banks. Shui’s pieces are often body-hugging, artfully decorated pieces of art, and available in many sizes, allowing anyone to look — and feel — the kind of sexy Shui herself exudes: confidently sensual with an unmistakable air of mystique. Her creativity, expert tailoring, and personal je ne sais quoi have won Shui accolades everywhere, from boardrooms to dance halls, and is why so many women feel both empowered and seductive in a Kim Shui creation. 

This season, Shui introduced her FW2020 collection to a lively crowd of New York’s chicest, who were clapping and shouting before the first model had even stepped foot on the catwalk. Keeping true to her culturally diverse upbringing — Shui is of Chinese descent and was raised in Europe and the U.S. — the line’s models were as diverse, body-positive, and beautiful as ever (and included trans model, Jovel). 

“I feel like Kim predicts so much in fashion,” model Liz Harlan tells V (Harlan is a Shui muse who’s walked for the line and attends every runway show). “She's able to tap into what 21st century women want. Her clothes are always a celebration of culture. She chooses to show visibility through her castings and her runways, and you can tell they feel great in the clothes during the show. Kim is inclusive of everyone, regardless of size, age, race, gender, sexuality. I’m always proud of her, and this season is no different!”

For Shui, “this season was really about looking at transformations and life cycles,” she tells V. “Dressing sexy but in a different way.”

And it certainly was that. Shui’s normally revealing tops and bottoms were replaced with more modest cuts, yet retained their signature high-quality materials and distinctive Asian-inspired patterns. FW20 presents a softer side to Shui sexiness (it’s still very sexy, though!), a shift into more layered, longer looks with more subtle details. Silk trousers that ballooned from mid-thigh to bottom had gorgeous natural flow, and were paired with smartly tailored pinstripe blazers for a sexy business aesthetic. Zip-up tops with butterfly brocade patterned pants. And as this is fall, after all, Shui took a dive back into her work in outerwear (an old specialty of hers), with wooly, floor-length coats and belted jackets. There was a feeling of maturation, of the Kim Shui line coming into its own, and moving steadily into the new decade.

Isabelle Chaput, one half of celebrated fashion duo the Young Emperors along with her partner Nelson Tiberghien, is a longtime supporter of the brand and sat in the front row with her beau. “Kim has this incredible talent of being able to mix bold patterns, textures, and colors together into a look that is sexy, cool, and always chic,” she tells V. “And those amazing Chinatown studded headscarves were just the cherries on top this season!”

“I was looking at Justin Morin's fabric sculptures,” Shui explains of her process. “I was paying attention to how they become like draped paintings. And of course I reference ancient Chinese Empress dresses, and I looked at a lot of traditional brocades and silk patterns. But I think because I grew up in Rome and being of Chinese background and then moving to New York, I haven't been putting enough New York energy into my collections. So I also played a little bit more with that; for example, the headscarves we did, we cut up t-shirts we found in Chinatown. We made oversized reading glasses and clipped on chains with jade pieces falling off from them. We reworked classic Adidas sneakers into stiletto heels. So it was a collaborative, DIY vibe. I tried to make it look like you might have gotten one of my pieces from Chinatown for $10, but it also could be expensive at the same time. I love that dichotomy!”

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