Talk about a feel-good project. For his spring 2022 collection film for KidSuper, Colm Dillane set up a street booth in New York City and asked 300 people: “What do you want to do before you die?”
Answers ranged from skydiving to falling in love, winning an Oscar or riding a motorbike across Asia. Dillane picked 20 people and helped to fulfill their fantasies — enlisting them as models for his collection in the process.
The designer has embraced the virtual fashion show format. “It finally puts everyone on the same playing field because it’s not a competition of budget anymore, it’s more a competition of ideas, and feeling and execution,” he said. “Storytelling and art are two things that I think KidSuper always wins at.”
The outfits were de facto canvases for his paintings, including a mosaic that juxtaposed famous faces like Frida Kahlo with portraits based on photos submitted by fans of the brand — another clever way to engage his audience.
Brushstrokes and lively colors gave his suits and silk shirts a one-of-a-kind feel. The portraits translated well to other formats, too, especially an intarsia knit vest and a green corduroy suit with patchwork appliqués.
Dillane joined a skydiving expedition, sent a mother and son on a trip to Paris and played Cupid for a couple — even serving up the wine for their rooftop blind date. In what would have been a comic epitaph to a colorful career, he and his friends hit trouble after setting sail for the Statue of Liberty on a homemade raft.
“It was like a Titanic moment,” he recalled with obvious delight. “We hit as many roadblocks as you can. If COVID-19 didn’t exist, we would have really been able to do some crazy stuff, I think.”
Dillane’s manic energy has propelled his label into the finals of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers, but it can also work against him. He missed his slot on the Paris Fashion Week calendar by 12 hours after running into technical and legal hurdles while editing his film. “I’m the most last-minute human being of all time,” he confessed.
Still, he’s feeling confident ahead of the LVMH Prize final in September. “I’ve been called the outlier, the dark horse,” he said. “But I think what’s good about KidSuper is that it really stands for something. There’s a real brand here to build upon.” As the slogan says, impossible is nothing.