There's a reason Helmut Newton never gets old as a point of reference for womenswear designers: The photographer was simply nonpareil at capturing the power of female sexuality, the mastery in feeling desire, and also knowing one is desired. To put Newton's trick in academic terms, his women are both subjects and objects, and for that reason, his work makes for very good source material for a designer like Kevork Kiledjian. Three seasons out, Kiledjian has developed an idiomatic sexiness; with this collection, it seems he's finally caught on to the fact that the women he's designing for want to feel in powerful in their sexuality, rather than beholden to it.
Kiledjian's starting point was a Newton portrait of Charlotte Rampling gazing languorously, yet hard-eyed, into the camera. There were echoes of the photo in the collection's pops of red, and especially in his excellent shadowy red furs; more generally, Newton hovered over the runway in the harnessing motif used in several looks. As is usual in Kiledjian's collections, the clothes were formfitting; this season, he went for a long, narrow silhouette, enunciated by tight leggings that extended over the ankle.
This time out, though, he was atypically circumspect, showing a minimum of skin. The silhouette got same-y after a while, and the silver-ball embellishment was overused, but the designer had a strong theme going with his architectural cutaways, and the jacquards and tonal color-blocking added a nice variety of color and texture. Where the collection really shone was in its outerwear: Alongside the furs, Kiledjian turned out some truly excellent motorcycle jackets, in particular the versions in cherry red and quilted black leather. All in all, a big step forward.