Kinder Aggugini is hardly a household name in America; even most stateside fashion fanatics didn't know much about the man until Macy's tapped him for the store's first designer collaboration. The Kinder Aggugini for Impulse clothes are in Macy's stores now, and in a backhanded way, they inspired the excellent collection Aggugini showed today.
"It was amazing to see what they can do with mass production now," Aggugini said after his show. "Because of the volume, they can order incredible materials for very little cost; they can do great things with finishings. But going through that process made me think hard about what 'luxury' must be, to distinguish it from what is mass-produced."
What Aggugini determined—and what was plainly evident from his Fall '11 collection—is that luxury must entail handwork. Inspired by Peggy Guggenheim's eccentric style, he turned out a host of winning pieces deconstructed in seemingly naïve ways—to wit, the paneled pencil skirts with their broad topstitching, as well as raw-edged dresses and coats cut out to reveal linings. You'd never mistake this for the work of an amateur, though: The tailoring throughout was assured, and Aggugini was insanely inventive with his materials. He used only one wool—cashmere—and boiled it and bonded it and felted it and dip-dyed and spray-painted it; silk was subjected to similar processing. There was also some decidedly non-naïve technique applied to the garments' construction: Aggugini's slouchy parkas, for example, came with densely pleated collars. (The versions in yellow dip-dye and the collection's excellent floral print were standouts.) All in all, the verdict on Aggugini this season is a big thumbs-up: If Macy's hasn't made him a household name, then this collection ought to do the trick.