Fashion’s usual expression of the future is tethered to sci-fi movies, but in fact, gender-fluidity and sustainability loom larger than the biggest space station.
Hun Kim, design director of Karl Lagerfeld, had these cultural movements in mind when he designed the fall 2022 collection, and collaborated with Cara Delevingne on a capsule slated for September delivery. Both were on display in the brand’s Paris showroom, and reflected Hun’s convictions that “fashion’s future is more free” than ever, and that “gender-neutral doesn’t mean masculine.”
Nor does it necessarily mean feminine, as his dartless double-breasted jackets suggested.
The main Lagerfeld collection for fall broke down additional barriers as Kim conscripted functional fabrics usually reserved for activewear for more everyday clothes, as in a thermo-regulating jersey for a sleek turtleneck, or reflective fabrics for his or hers shirt jackets. Likewise, nylon puffer jackets bear a repeating KL logo that approximates a houndstooth when viewed in showroom light, but as an iridescent grid when photographed with a smartphone.
Kim also added transformable features to many garments, so the sleeves zipped off those nylon puffers, and a glossy eco shearling could be worn long, or cropped.
There were winks to things Lagerfeld loved — orchids, his fetish flower, as a print for romantic blouses and dresses — and things he didn’t love so much: pink, used instead of black satin on the lapels and outseams of a tuxedo. “Karl liked to say, ‘Think pink, but don’t wear it,'” Kim said with a laugh.
He also reprised one of Lagerfeld’s deeper quotes on a black sweater that seemed to sum up the collection: “Embrace the present and invent the future.”
The Cara Loves Karl capsule took a more anthropological approach to gender fluidity. Kim related that Delevingne, who segued from modeling to acting, singing, writing and activism, has had Hollywood wizards transform her with makeup and costumes into a man to discover firsthand how the opposite sex is treated, with clothes a potent trigger. This narrative fed Kim’s “Victor/Victoria” designs wherein shirts, blazers and jeans jackets were split into two halves that button together, so a shirt could be half striped/half solid; regular length, cropped or partially unbuttoned to expose some tummy, for example.
Kim said Delevingne spent hours “playing with the clothes” and sharing feedback that Kim incorporated into the final designs. “We had so much fun,” he said, grabbing a black nylon bomber jacket off the rack that reverses to a silky faux fur in a baby blue color. “She’s not just putting her name on it, she really created the story.”
He noted that Delevingne insisted on strong eco-credentials, so all of the items incorporate recycled, rejuvenated or organic materials.
There were a few winks to the past in the handbag department, including a top-handle style cinched with metal bars from a 1980 collection, and a fold-over tote with a handle shaped like sunglasses from 2009. Kim said most of the archive has been digitized, and offers more than enough inspiration to take the brand far, far into the future.