One of the great things about working in fashion is that designers are constantly introducing you to their obscure or offbeat references. Cult films you've never heard of, art you've never seen, the handicraft traditions in far-flung locations, etc. In that vein, Kinder Aggugini is owed thanks for bringing the Cottingley Fairies hoax to the fashion public's attention. Back in 1917, it seems, two girls in Yorkshire created photographs that appeared to prove the existence of fairies; a surprising number of people bought into the shots, and their loudest champion was none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Who knew?
Not this reviewer. And as inspiration for a collection goes, the Cottingley Fairies hoax makes for rich material. It's a shame Aggugini didn't do better by it. There were some very nice, rather simple dresses in patchworked, Art Nouveau-esque fairy prints, and Aggugini was on to something interesting with his buttoned-up maxi dresses and knife-pleated coats. The latter looks conjured a vintage sensibility without quoting any specific look or era verbatim. Aggugini's pattern of "escaping moths," in his phrase, was not only beautiful but also extraordinarily invested and witty; the moths were embroidered onto shredded organza that had been layered onto silk. You got the sense of a dusty trunk being opened for the first time in decades and the moths flying out all at once, leaving the tattered remains of a feast of dresses behind. That is storytelling in clothes. And here again, Aggugini's story got at vintage indirectly, and from a new angle.
Why the disappointment, then? Frankly, the collection just seemed halfhearted, as though the designer had exhausted himself in its conceptual development and couldn't muster the energy to execute with sufficient polish or coherence. Aggugini likes his clothes to look a bit raw, generally, and that's fine; here, however, there were too many pieces that came off slapped together or just unfinished. And in the meantime, there were too many silhouettes and construction ideas to make a clear proposition; Aggugini should have spent more time elaborating his interesting pleated coats, for instance, and his dresses' long, cocoon-ish sleeves. And there were more than a few outlying looks that should have been edited out completely. There were too many good ideas here not to appreciate this collection, but as a whole, it never lived up to its own potential.