We talk with innovative designer Ka Way Key about his confectionary-hued, hedonistic SS17 collection.
After debuting his first contemporary menswear collection at London Collections: Mens last January, Royal College of Art graduate Ka Wa Key has been making a name for himself as one of the city’s brightest up and coming menswear stars. Working tirelessly to encapsulate the beauty of the difference between East and West, Ka Wa Key uses fashion technology innovations to design and create a hybridity between cultures and adapt facets of cultural aesthetics into something unconventional, beautiful and full of emotion. Ka Wa Key’s wearable and contemporary menswear explores the identity of the modern Asian man, intertwined with feminine design elements and truly innovative in-house fabric developments.
For his SS17 collection, Ka Wa Key created a sensuous and sugary aesthetic, charged with heady hedonism, romanticism and innocence. Inspired by Ryan McGinley and “The World Of Suzie Wong”, Ka Way Key explores the differences between romantic minds in the East and West, and the parallels between them. Always questioning traditional textile crafts, Ka Wa Key’s in-house fabric developments led to a specially-designed transparent yarn, creating a whimsical, floating feeling in the garments, matched by his collaboration with luxury French lace company Sophie Hallette. Celebrating the beauty of the body, Ka Wa Key’s SS17 collection is a candy-coloured yet powerful delight.
What was the starting point for the collection?
The starting point was a story I created in my mind during having a shower after a night out with my friends. The story is about an Asian guy who painted himself like a Monet’s painting to hide himself from the guys who fetishise him just because he is an Asian. I know, it sounds a bit weird, but inspirations from my work and my craft are not always classy.
How have you combine traditional textile crafts with the latest fashion technology for this collection?
For example, traditionally devore is a textile technique used for creating burn out effect on viscose velvet or some woven fabrics, but rarely on heavy gauge knitted fabric. But we always question the traditional use of textile crafts – why can’t I use this technique in another way? For this collection we used the traditional devore technique with a different perspective, on our in-house knitted fabric with a new special-designed transparent yarn to create a romantic see-through effect like a body painting.
What new design elements have you brought in this season?
This season we have applied our textile crafts to traditional knitwear such as cable sweaters to bring a more casual look. Also we had a chance to collaborate with a prestigious French lace company Sophie Hallette as well and we are able to use their laces as materials to make fabrics.
You often explore the hybridity between Eastern and Western clothing – how have you brought that in for this collection?
The season is like a collection of Westernised old Chinese working uniform painted with Monet’s water lilies in Chinese ink. When I look for inspirations, I always look at things in both sides – how the West would interpret that and how the East would do that, or how the West interprets some Eastern aesthetics and cultures and vice versa. Sometimes I found these are more interesting than authenticity.
What did you look to for inspiration for this season?
My Ryan McGinley’s photobook and the movie “The World of Suzie Wong”. The former one is expressing the hedonism, innocence and romance from young people in a Western way and the latter one is showing the sensuous romance in an Eastern way.
What are the key features of this collection?
Definitely our in-house crafted fabrics and celebration the beauty of body.