After graduating from the Royal College of Art with a Masters in Fashion Menswear in 2015, KA WA KEY has been quick to establish himself as an incredibly talented menswear designer with an eye for the intricate. Exploring romance and sensuality for his SS17 collection, KA WA KEY has developed one of the most personal design processes around. By exploring the hybridity between Eastern and Western clothing, as well as masculine and feminine representations, KA WA KEY sets himself apart as a forward-thinking, innovative menswear designer. He never fails to push the boundaries of traditional textile crafts by combining them with brand new fashion technology – he also crafts all of his fabrics in-house, is there no skill he hasn’t mastered?
In the SS17 video, KA WA KEY explores the concept of the body coming together with the machine to make the fabrics used in the collection. In pale shades of white, cornflower blue and candyfloss pink, the video is exceptionally aesthetically pleasing, and matches perfectly with KA WA KEY’s SS17 collection. Exploring intricate embroidery through his textual pieces, woven in-house, KA WA KEY utilises a variety of beautifully crafted soft silhouettes, allowing him to study Asian identities and sensuous aesthetics. The video was art directed by Pierre-Alexandre Fillaire and filmed and edited by Maria Camilla Piana Brizio (with music by Daisuke Sato) who together with KA WA KEY have created a beautifully constructed film that embodies everything that is wonderful about KA WA KEY.
Watch the KA WA KEY SS17 video here:
Exploring masculine Asian identity is one of your central preoccupations: why is this of particular interest?
I found there are many interesting and contemporary cultures and philosophies from Asia but believe since the last generation we have been gentrified so they have been lost. From an Asian perspective, we demonstrate through fashion design three key things: sensuality of the garments, the gender-neutrality and the beauty of imperfections. These ideals are ones that didn’t belong to the Western fashion or aesthetics, but I find them very contemporary and what global fashion needs now.
Talk to us about the preview video: where do the ideas come from and what was the creative process like? I assume you were very involved with the shooting and so forth?
The idea is from Ryan McGinley’s work. All the boys and girls in his work are all naked in the dreamy romantic world that he created. So sensuous, so innocent. I always want to be part of his beautiful world and create some dreamy fabrics involving that kind of hedonistic sensual aesthetics. That’s why we did this style of fashion film to tie our worlds together.
What can we expect from your SS17 collection?
The SS17 collection will be more expressive and more wearable at the same time. We are going to apply contemporary choreography to create a performance, bringing the clothing to life and create the idea of a moving artwork.
How do you go about sourcing and creating your unique fabrics?
It is like what you can perceive from the video. It is all about senses. I always look at fabrics everywhere and think of what I can do and treat them to express their senses as well. I know it sounds strange but I do think yarns and fabrics have their own mind. It’s such an Asian philosophy that we believe everything has a God and have their soul.
Do you see each season as distinct or is there a consistent thread running from collection to collection?
I think it is more a continuous personal expression of my feeling towards my surroundings.
How have things changed and progressed for you both since you graduated and since your last collection?
After I graduated I was so lucky to be nominated as one of the finalists of H&M Design Award and I had a great opportunity to showcase my designs to many fashion media at the Kensington Palace. After that I debuted my AW16 collection at LCM and I have gained confidence in starting up my own label.
Since my last collection I’ve been learning about the business side of the fashion and trying to think about how to push my ideas and aesthetics in fashion.
If you could describe this collection in just three words, what would it be?
Personal, sensuous, and love.