The story behind Kinder Aggugini's Spring collection was a not-so-dark Heart of Darkness. The designer came across a book on the nineteenth-century Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who became so obsessed with Africa, he simply disappeared there. The biography lent a romantic structure to the merger of the Savile Row alum's talent for tailoring with the colorful and graphic codes of African dress.
Aggugini began his journey into the continent slowly. The first look out was a double-buckled kilt and white blouse that opened to reveal a vaguely tribal black neckpiece. He segued from there into safari tailoring and a beautiful softly constructed chesterfield coat that looked as if it were made from all black mud cloth. When it came to brightly saturated printed dresses, Aggugini's goal was to cut them to look like a single piece of cloth knotted by the wearer. That's an idea that could easily fall flat, but these were more elegant than literal, with cowled necks, nipped waists, and knotting here and there.
The best parts of the show had a wonderful push-pull between the two worlds. That tension was best embodied in the hats that Aggugini asked Stephen Jones to make as if an African tribe—well before the Internet age—happened to find his lookbook and re-create it. Jones did them up from used cardboard boxes and other detritus. A jaunty little top hat finished a black draped tweed vest and lean black silk skirt that revealed a sliver of tie-dyed color. Its fine mix of eras and cultures was totally chic here and now.