Kinder Aggugini - The best kept secret in fashion?

Kinder talks to Dazed Digital about his London Fashion Week debut and why he doesn't like giving clothes away to celebrities.

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The ”best kept secret in fashion” is out. It slipped out on the second day of London Fashion Week, and only a few hundred people were there to witness it. Kinder Aggugini launched his first London show, and despite it being a cold February morning in a world full of doom and gloom, he draped the 35th floor of Tottenham Court Road’s Centre Point in the bright shades of red and pink floral prints. Feel the heat, people. Here, he tells Dazed Digital why…

Dazed Digital: How did the show go?
Kinder Aggugini: Good, it was like a military operation. I used people I’ve known for a long time. I trusted that they understood what I was doing, and they’re all top professionals, like make up artist Charlotte Tilbury, Malcolm Edwards, who did the hair, stylist Bill Mullen and Erin O’Connor who opened up the show. Plus I had Stephen Jones doing the hats. I felt it would be good without knowing it!

DD: You were born in Italy and have worked in both New York and Paris for years. How come you ended up showing in London?
KA: I live here now, it’s where I’m based so it made sense to me. It says Kinder Aggugini London on the label! But who’s to say I’ll always show here. Maybe it’ll be Jamaica next time around – it’s warm, hot and happy over there!

DD: What were the theme and main inspiration for your show?
KA: The collection is called Mash-Up because I was inspired by when you mix two different songs to make one. Like the collection, it’s about layering effects that might be familiar and identifiable separately, but put them together and you create something new.

DD: What does that mean in practice?
KA: I took, for example, the shape from the front of a 1920’s dress and put it together with the back of a shirt from the 50’s. The structure was then re-modelled and re-sculpted on a model.

DD: So did you play mash-up music as well then?
KA: Well, kind of, yes. We played dance hall together with chamber music and break beats together with punk rock.

DD: You were also inspired by the photographer Sarah Moon?
KA: Yes, I like her blurred photography. All you can see is silhouettes and colour blocks, so I used silhouettes as a starting point and then worked on the details. I refitted garments with pins and then gave it to a pattern cutter to put them together.

DD: What can kind of fabrics did you use to get this effect?
KA: The idea was for the imperfect to meet the perfect. I always describe my clothes as if Sid Vicious married Coco Chanel. We used beautifully embroidered fabrics and then ripped them and the polka dot print that lines most of the collection is hand made with Tipp-Ex.  

DD: There seems to be lot of tailoring in your collection, why?
KA: I did an internship at Huntsman on Savile Row when I was young. Suits can hide the body’s imperfections and it standardises silhouettes – they make you move in a certain way. My women’s collections are often sized-down menswear.

DD: Isn’t it quite colourful for an AW collection?
AK: We’re obsessed with recession and everyone has a black coat already. It’s a reaction, I suppose, to what’s going on around us. And colour stands out and makes the show a bit different.

DD: How did you get that over-dyed effect on your floral prints?
KA: I mixed acid and reactive dyes, which normally doesn’t work but it made the crisp silk look soft instead.

DD: You were picked up by Comme des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo early on, and today you share many retail outlets. Is there an aesthetic connection between the two brands?
KA: Not necessarily, but I admire her immensely, she’s a Designer’s Designer. I look at what she does in awe and ask myself  ‘how did she do that?’ .

DD: Are there any other designers you admire?
KA: I like different designers for different reasons. I’m a fan of Azzedine Alaïa and Gareth Pugh, because their fashion isn’t always commercial. I don’t always know who is going to wear their clothes but I appreciate what they do. Well done, Rock on!

DD: You’re not much for giving clothes away to celebrities and there is a bit of joke about that on your website. Why is that?
KA: I don’t understand this cult of celebrity. How can you be famous for being famous, you should have to be good at something.

DD: Is your opinion on this maybe related to the fact that you worked for over 20 years as a ‘ghost designer’ to the likes of Versace, Calvin Klein, John Galliano and Paul Smith?
AK: When you work as a ‘ghost designer’ you get known in the business for being good at what you do, but you’re not known to the public.

DD: You’ve been called the “best kept secret in fashion” but it seems like it’s about to change…
KA: Yes, it’d better. I used to make a living as a secret, but now I have to make a living by selling clothes. I’ll just have to rock on…
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