Second chances are hard to come by, but Kai Kühne is getting one thanks to Markus Hoefels, the same German venture capitalist whose investment helped Proenza Schouler get on its feet. Combine that good news with a feature in The New York Times this past weekend, and what do you get? A packed house.
Happily, the show's standout piecesthe highly constructed and sophisticated dresseswere up to the attention. Kühne's strength is tailoring, and his intricate seams and darts this Spring were inspired by, of all things, the humble leek. "I'm interested in the humanification of nature," the designer said. Some of the fabricslike one featuring pleated chiffon "pebbles" used on a belt-tied coatsuggested the vegetal world, too. But nature, at least the tree-hugging kind, is not what rushes to mind when one thinks of Kühne's work, which more than one observer has described as "Germanic" (a reference to its spirit, not the designer's passport).
While there were a few awkward experiments, like the "antigravity" dresses of suspended tiers, the real distraction was the show's overly complex choreography. At any one moment three clonelike models were walking the runway, slowing the tempo. Also, casting the mannequins as automatons somewhat dehumanized the clothes, whichdespite their precise geometrywere molded to the body in celebration of the natural female form.