When a designer claims an influence like Madame Récamier, arch-saloniste of Napoleonic Paris, you might anticipate the historicism of a Galliano or a Westwood. And given that those two are certified fashion visionaries, you might feel nervous for the tyro prepared to take on such an excavation of the past. But Kinder Aggugini is no tyro—he's actually worked for Galliano and Westwood—and besides, he was feeling Récamier as a defiant punk of her time. It was hard edge, not historical romance, that determined the tone of a collection that should, if there is any fashion justice, be Aggugini's breakthrough.
The Napoleonic connection gave the designer the chance to do what he does best. The first outfit said it all: military-precise cut, high collar, army green with red trim but opening up to reveal the flirtiness of Kinder's signature dot lining. In other words, strict but sexy. Another topper combined the same ingredients, but it was caped, like a general's coat. There was a little drummer boy's jacket in Napoleonic red and a spectacularly sleek black coat with slash pockets lined in the same eye-catching shade. The skinny pants beneath, also red, were more Juliette Lewis than Juliette Récamier, an indication that the romance in this collection was driven by rock 'n' roll. Hence the biker jackets in black leather and velvet; the sleeveless Lurex coat over skinny pants; or the big, fuzzy bad-girl sweaters (the bold and the beautiful might brave them as dresses).
Still, Récamier's name wasn't on the invitation for nothing. Kinder's flowing jersey eveningwear was shaped by the Empire line of her era. Maybe the elegantly draped navy dresses were, too. The designer also showed muslin shirtdresses (paired here with swag-backed mohair-alpaca knits). Women back then would soak the muslin to formfitting effect, and promptly catch their death of cold. Superstar set designer Michael Howells was keen to re-create the trend for today's show, but good old health and safety said "No!" to suffering in the name of Napoleonic style.