Kai Kühne Fall 2006 – New York Fashion Week Review

“We have 20 minutes to get to Baaaay-bee Phaaaat!” a man exclaimed to his friend while darting past the line to the Bryant Park tents about 25 blocks away. “Priorities, priorities,” a couple of Kai devotees muttered with a chuckle.

Ah, neophytes who need to understand the definition of the term “fashionably late.” The shows tend to begin at least 30 to 60 minutes past the stated start time on the invitation. Fortunately the temperature was a mild 55 degrees F on the evening of the Kai Kühne, Myself show at the Altman Building, from which the line stretched down the block.

After waiting around, watching the preening, jockeying for space on the standing room floor, and undergoing the usual internal questioning as to why I waited nearly an hour to watch a spectacle that lasts a matter of minutes, the show began..

In the case of Kai’s show, you forget the lag time and remember why you waited. A photographer had told me that his debut solo collection was quite impressive, and it didn’t take long to see why. I don’t pretend to be a fashion expert – do I even know the difference between satin and silk? – but I tend to categorize the clothes I see into the following: fashion I’d wear, fashion that resembles good or bad modern art (but not exactly wearable), and something that I’d love to wear but could only do so if I was a foot taller.

This collection, which Kai describes as inspired by “the edgy chic of Tallulah Bankhead, tempered with the sweetness of a chocolate dream” (okayyyy…), fell under the first category of fashion I’d wear. The styles were amazingly understated given his background with As Four, the fashion collective that he broke off from a season ago to strike it solo (the rest of the collective became Threeasfour, and for more on the group’s insane history, read this article that appeared in New York Magazine). Twisted fabric made its way through business chic; baggy skirts added interesting dimensions to formal wear. My feet may have been killing me in the end, but I could not have cared less as I floated out after the show wanting to spice up my daily work wardrobe!

all photos by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine