For his debut collection as artistic director of The Kooples, Tom Van Dorpe thought he would channel the brand’s elegant rebel aesthetic through very graphic styles, with an emphasis on black. But then came the coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns and darkness.
“It was such a hard time for everyone, so I thought ‘Let’s layer this idea a little bit and think about it differently,’” he said, speaking at the Paris headquarters.
He opted instead to focus on on floral prints, a brand staple and introduce a range of pastels: lavender for the metal-edged Emily bag, a men’s suit or a sweat pants ensemble; yellow for an open-backed dress in a small floral print for her and a shirt in the same material for him.
Van Dorpe, who studied art and business in Belgium and has extensive styling experience with fashion labels and magazines, is marking a new direction for the brand. He brought the men’s and women’s collections even closer together with shared prints — new ones were drawn up, including an interesting, stylized iris motif — and sneakers. He further modernized things with a nudge toward minimalism — dresses were more sophisticated, thanks to elongated cuts: less flouncy, less fussy.
Style-wise, he mined the Nineties, sneaking The Kooples onto a Nirvana-style concert T-shirt, offering workwear shirts and and chunky shoes, while keeping the range broad, and office-to-evening friendly — while phasing out the sportswear category. Focused and modern, this collection points the label in a promising direction. It was purchased by Lacoste-owner MF Brands Group last year, and placed under the direction of Romain Guinier.