Something about Kiko Kostadinov’s design has a sinister undertone to it, it feels aloof and a little removed. That's certainly not a negative attribute, one feels a desire to possess that genuinely achingly cool nonchalance that all Kostadinov admirers and wearers have. It's not an obnoxious ambience either, it's an untappable, seemingly indescribable mood that comes with Kostadinov and his garments.
Stepping around the meditating individuals and the calming hum of the Buddha boxes in Chinatown and into the Chinese Exchange where Kostadinov was showing, that light, the supercilious mood was in full force. A soft bubbling water noise played overhead, the title 'Interviews by the River' starting to unravel. Kostadinov had been looking to Martin Kippenberger's 'The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s Amerika' installation for colours, selecting primrose, pale lavender, high-vis tangerine, pear green and navy blue from Kippenberger's assortment of items. The primrose pulled from Kippenberger's piece was best seen on a sheer Asics drawstring jacket - it had a delicate feminine feel that is sometimes inexplicit in Kostadinov’s work. A refreshingly unusual sportswear attribute. Kostadinov’s work is often rich with cinematic influences, and here he had been looking at two Indian films; Stayajit Ray’s The Apu Trilogy and Jean Renoir’s The River, which was reflected throughout in the tunic shapes, coiled headpieces by the Katsuya Kamo and the casting. The oversized chambray shirts and loose, breezy trousers took us to the moist climes of Bengal while military cotton Meshka bags harked to Kostadinov’s Bulgarian heritage. It was a mishmash of texture, influence and colour - much like Kippenberger's installation - yet it was simultaneously seamless. The utilitarian shapes one associates with Kostadinov were still present too: Nehru collars (a shape Kostadinov uses often), boxy shapes, open vents and darts. The Asics collaboration - now his third - was an additional brilliant odd pang of clashing colour as the models walked.
It’s a show that will perhaps divide opinion. It felt slightly more ostentatious than previous collections, which some might shy away from, but this was still authentically in keeping with Kostadinov and his codes. It was calm yet colourful, excitingly new but also familiar. Topped and tailed by the calming chant of the Chinatown buddha boxes, the collection was somehow soothing in its chaos.