Kwaidan Editions proves potential with Paris runway show
today Oct 2, 2019
Showing on the last day of the Paris Fashion Week, Kwaidan Editions turned out to be a pleasant surprise. On Tuesday, this emerging London-based label, founded in 2016 by French designer Léa Dickely and American-Vietnamese designer Hung La, a finalist at the LVMH Prize 2018, unveiled a high-quality, very consistent and very marketable collection. The clean, cool silhouettes of Kwaidan Editions are strongly reminiscent of Céline under Phoebe Philo, a younger, more contemporary version of it.
All the more so since Kwaidan Editions has positioned itself as a high-end label, produced in Italy “in the same factories used by Balenciaga and Celine,” with prices on par with the top names in fashion: its trousers sell for between $900 and $1,200, jackets between $1,900 and $2,500 and overcoats between $3,000 and $4,000.
Kwaidan Editions’s minimalist, almost classical clothes have an extremely contemporary, alluring feel, enhanced by directional twists to do with proportions, materials and colours. For example, the apple green models and the scattered flashes of day-glo colours which spark up the collection, or the harmonious lines of dresses which hug the figure softly. Like the knitted jersey trousers or the monochrome knitted dresses whose sleeves drop down to cover the hands, leaving only the fingers visible.
An oversize beige trench coat (also shown in poppy and cement colour) with delicately flared sleeves is cinched at the waist by a metal chain. The flowing high-waisted trousers flare out at the ankle. They are matched with pale yellow blouses or see-through knitted tops in the same hues, so evanescent they seem like a sheer filter which turns a darker colour as it overlays the trousers. Military-style camouflage takes on a chic allure in a precious jacquard dress.
Many of the collection's items are made of latex, from shirt dresses to strap dresses and flowing trousers. Latex also features on a denim jacket seemingly immersed in pastel-pink glue, and especially in the handbags that mimic the shape of plastic bags, in plain smooth rubber, bound to be ultra-popular next summer.
Kwaidan Editions’s young designers are partners in work and life. They met at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and their career confirms a degree of elective affinity with luxury fashion in general, and Céline in particular. Dickely began at Balenciaga, then worked for a Parisian embroidery atelier before collaborating with Balmain, then Rick Owens and Alexander McQueen. Hung La spent a longer time at Balenciaga, where he worked alongside Nicolas Ghesquière, then joined Alexander Wang, before a two-year stint at Céline with Phoebe Philo.
“We love simplicity, and straightforward, easily understood things. At the same time, in our clothes there's always a quirky touch, a little something which doesn’t show on the surface. It’s all very polished, and also a little odd,” said Dickely backstage.
“In contrast with last winter, when we told a sharper, very nocturnal story, this season we decided to let the collection blossom spontaneously, going for flexibility and lightness, using materials like jersey, knitted fabrics and fluorescent latex,” added Dickely.
After five collections (the Spring/Summer 2020 one which showed on Tuesday is the sixth), Kwaidan Editions has already won over 70 directional multibrand retailers worldwide, like the Dover Street Market branches in London and New York, and Galeries Lafayette and The Broken Arm in Paris. Kwaidan Editions employs 15 people, between stylists and sales staff, and has a strong presence in the USA, where it is growing fast, and in Asia.