EACH successive season, we move closer and closer towards
identifying what is a definitive Kenneth Cole æsthetic:
clothes with minimalist, clean, graphic lines in a highly stylized
sportswear mode. After too many years of chasing trends and getting
burnt by the backlash, Mr Cole and his team of designers have finally
begun to see the way to sustained successand it can be found
in creating a signature look for yourself and educating people on
accepting it as gospel. Think Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang, Narciso
Rodriguez, Donna Karan and her seven easy pieces concept,
Ralph Lauren and his highjacking of the preppy, country gentleman's
look, and the late Gianni Versace with his emphasis on overt sexualityyou
get the picture. You have to position the brand for the long haul.
It's like the Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams: if you
build it, they will come.
And so they have to Kenneth Cole. By expanding
his usual fall palette of black, greys and browns to include vibrant
colours such as pistachio, plum, cream, bronze, coral, bright red,
gold and white, Mr Cole showed one of the best, most focused collections
of recent years, with smart city looks and understated evening looks
one can't help but appreciate.
His collection had some of the best coats and
jackets of the season. From his chocolate double breasted short
canvas trench coat with leather front flap and his bronze shrunken
boy jacket (for women) to his graphite moleskin safari
jacket and black wool double-breasted pea coat (for men), the outerwear
pieces really set the tone for the rest of the collection.
His menswear pieces, to the last one, were well-built,
sturdy designs that were stylishly masculine. I loved the monochromatic
look he achieved by pairing a navy fitted turtleneck with a black
flat front pant topped by a navy leather jacket. It was accessible
yet up-market at the same time.
He pulled off a similar look later on with his
brown turtleneck paired with chocolate felt pants and a chocolate
leather button down shirt. Another great example of his growing
expertise in designing outerwear was his graphite grey notch collar
overcoat (with its pistachio nylon jacket liner). While his suits
were well structured, nothing beats his black double breasted peak
lapel tuxedo suit with grosgrain taping. It was just a marvellous
piece of work within itself.
His womenswear designs were the best they have
ever been. His aim was to satisfy the needs of the multi-tasking
but fashion-loving modern woman who has no time to spend in front
of her closet choosing something to wear before dashing out the
door. Daytime pieces were slightly more straightforward; but he
turned up the heat with his evening designs. Stand-out pieces here
include his chocolate asymmetrical motor jacket with brass zippers,
the lovely chocolate brown leather wrap dress worn by Liya, Nakeisha
wearing his long camel colour shearling coat over a gold (deep V)
slip cocktail evening dress, his coral velvet dress with chiffon
insets, his plum coloured strappy flapper dress with beaded yoke
accents and Isabelli in a bronze geometric "burnt out"
silk dress with black yoke detailing.
Kenneth Cole and his team
of designers have begun to see the way to sustained success—creating
a signature look for yourself and educating people on accepting
it as gospel