At just 26, Kathleen Kye of KYE has been featured in W Korea, Vogue Italia, Complex magazine, and innumerable others. She launched her collection in 2011 at 23 after graduating from London’s renowned Central Saint Martins School for Art and Design, and since then has collaborated with Adidas HK, had her clothes worn by Rihanna and, this year, is one of three winners of Korea’s prestigious Samsung Fashion and Design Fund, which aims to improve “the fashion status of Korea by supporting global design talents.”
Backstage and in the show rehearsal, I only knew what I saw, which was beautifully tailored contemporary sportswear with a wacky but not tacky sensibility. I think these days it’s much too easy to get away with having a practically non-designed ‘athleisure’ brand—for example, putting an unusual pocket on a nylon hoodie and charging $300 for it, when you could get the same hoodie at The Sports Authority for $30 (and it might even last longer). But Kathleen Kye’s sweatshirts are just as visually interesting and detailed as her suit jackets, which for me is the entire point of the genre: to raise athletic wear to the high design standard of traditional ready-to-wear items like skirts, pants, dresses, blouses, and so on.
KYE’s collection, which included both pieces for men and women, embedded Las Vegas-style slot machine cherries and 7s on sleeves of sweatshirts, waistbands of skirts, and more. Her velvet jackets and sweatpants—which normally one might relegate to one’s elderly uncle—were pristinely tailored and, for lack of a better word, funny but in a self-conscious, ‘you’re laughing with me, not at me’ kind of way. Kye is able to get away with a lot in terms of funny too, at least with me, because the garments are so thoughtful and well-constructed. Normally I don’t know if I would be into a furry powder blue jacket (above) embedded all over with equally-spaced rhinestone chunks, but she sold it to me because of its clean collar and back detailing with a fluff of red. In fact, can I have one? I want to wear it like Rihanna with jeans.
The details really drew me to the collection overall, and this was exemplified in the show’s beauty looks as well. There was bold red lip and black cat eye by Dick Page using Shiseido cosmetics, and bold fake nails, each printed with those same aforementioned cherries and 7s, along with the KYE logo.
In the collection itself, I was especially entranced by a grey plaid pencil skirt with silver studs forming a heart on either side of a seam and a navy pinstripe jacket with what forms a heart on the elbows when you stand with your arms at your sides (below). Kye’s collection for Fall/Winter 2015 is quirky and smart, as her past collections have been—she wants us to be in on the joke with her. When you get there, it feels like a pretty great place to be.