To celebrate Hibiscus, KitchenAid’s fifth annual color of the year, the appliance manufacturer will host a fashion presentation to kick off New York Fashion Week.
In collaboration with Marta Del Rio, global creative director and designer, the event will introduce a capsule collection of 12 one-of-a-kind, avant-garde designs inspired by KitchenAid’s Artisan Stand Mixer ($299.99) and K400 Blender ($499) — in Hibiscus, a vivid fuchsia with a matte finish inspired by the beauty of the hibiscus flower in a garden.
Del Rio has invited a selection of New York’s emerging and vanguard design talent to each create a full look inspired by Hibiscus and KitchenAid’s design heritage. The roster of guest designers includes Jackson Wiederhoeft, Tara Babylon, Tia Adeola, Bach Mai and Man Made Skins, along with Del Rio’s designs. The show takes place Thursday at 7 p.m. at IRON23 and will feature music by deejay Alex Chapman.
“We’ve been tracking the evolution of the color pink since 2017,” said Brittni Pertijs, lead color, material and finish designer, KitchenAid. “Beginning with Millennial Pink and advancing to deeper hues as of late, pink is bringing boldness to life in its color and energy. We took that as the spark to create Hibiscus. Hibiscus is a color that draws us to something exciting.”
“When a hibiscus flower blooms, it attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and dragonflies thanks to its nectar,” said Doug Searles, general manager of KitchenAid. “A shared interest can truly bring together all walks of life. This phenomenon inspired the energetic 2023 Color of the Year, Hibiscus. Hibiscus exemplifies the creative exchanges that we see between makers across the world, every day, around their passion for experimentation in the kitchen.”
Del Rio was hired by KitchenAid to spearhead the project and put the team together. She has worked with some of the leading icons in pop culture, such as Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish, Dove Cameron and Paris Hilton, as well as brands such as Apple, Fendi, Vogue and Estée Lauder.
“KitchenAid is a brand with an instantly recognizable design language, which made celebrating the new Hibiscus color a natural fit as we toast vanguard talent at New York Fashion Week,” said Del Rio.
“I’ve designed a capsule collection that merges industrial and organic references with nods to the iconic lines and curves of the appliances that everyone knows coupled with classical fashion silhouettes. It was a pleasure to be able to invite five New York-based fashion labels to expand this core collection; each of their custom editions for this project showcases their design hallmarks and celebrates KitchenAid’s Color of the Year, Hibiscus,” she added.
Del Rio, who was born in Spain, called KitchenAid an iconic American brand and “The Ford of Kitchen.” She said people who own KitchenAid never put the appliances away and display them on the counter.
When KitchenAid first presented her with the plan, she said she was surprised. “You don’t think of a kitchen appliance going into fashion. But that’s not what they’re doing. They wanted to celebrate that intersection of color and design, and they decided to use fashion as the medium,” she said.
“I love unconventional challenges,” she continued. “It’s super exciting what materials will be inspired by this, what shapes, what forms; it almost felt like something no one had ever done,” she said. She said hibiscus as a color is “really relevant right now…we’ve seen a lot of pink. It’s within the world of fashion right now.”
Del Rio said she found expert metal welders in Las Vegas, rubber latex experts in California, and pattern makers in New York to create her seven looks. Overall, 12 looks will be shown on the runway, and each guest designer developed one look. Everything is made in the U.S.
“We almost created an atelier. It looks like we had 12 people working in one space, but it was actually all around America,” she said.
Her looks are all in the Hibiscus color with touches of chrome and brushed metal, which are also part of the machine. It’s that juxtaposition of soft and hard and shiny and matte, she explained.
Del Rio said she has worked with most of the five designers before. “Even though they’re young, they have a distinct language within their brand. You know a KitchenAid product when you see it. You know a Jackson Wiederhoeft when you see it, you know a Man Made Skins when you see it. I thought it was super important for them to be inspired by the color, the flower, as much as they could, the product. It was very important that they still maintain their core value. It needed to be in their language and very quintessentially them.”
She said she approached the designers in early January about the project and were on a tight time frame. She had a Zoom with everyone and talked through the designs and they submitted different sketches, giving them feedback here and there. “Even with being such a bizarre matchup, they all kind of got it, and was very excited and were smiling through it. I feel it’s been a very joyful project.”
“It’s really spectacular to see KitchenAid activating in the fashion space and supporting so many New York talents with this project,” said Wiederhoeft. “I can honestly say that I never would have expected this collaboration, and I think that’s part of what makes it so iconic…it was perfect having Marta collaborate with KitchenAid to empower the designers to go for it and create something with a lot of design integrity. I hope that our KitchenAid look can inspire people to wear corsets in the kitchen! Or at least to think about architectural parallels between garments and KitchenAid hardware.”
“Recently I was discussing just how iconic KitchenAid is with a friend. They said the only reason they’d ever want to get married is so that they can put a KitchenAid mixer on the registry. It’s simply an iconic product, and with this look we really wanted to nod to the product’s beautiful, iconic form. It’s something that’s utilitarian but incredibly designed. We also took the Hibiscus literally by embroidering oversized flowers onto the skirt and sleeves in white sequins,” said Wiederhoeft.
His look is a corset in a “wasp” shape that features detailed architecture and steel boning, with additional corset hardware and straps on the sleeves and skirt, including a lace-up back. There’s also a robust bow, and each sequin on the skirt was hand-embroidered to create a pixelated effect. “We included the tulle gloves and hood, signature pieces for us that lift the look into a really theatrical piece,” said Wiederhoeft.
Turning to whether the looks are wearable, Del Rio said, “There’s a bit of everything. The five designers are a little more ready-to-wear, mine were meant to be a little more over the top. They’re still wearable and walkable,” she said.
The clothing won’t be for sale. “We’re still discussing what will happen with the clothing. We’re still in conversations with KitchenAid where the final living space will be. As of now, they’re just for this pop-up event that we’re doing and the photo shoots we’ve done with an editorial campaign approach,” said Del Rio.
The audience for the show will comprise people from the fashion, tech, music, entertainment and art world.
Asked whether she feels this fashion show will help raise awareness of KitchenAid and sell more products, Del Rio said, “It might do that. To me what was important is KitchenAid is about design and color. Different industries can overlap with artists and creatives.”