In yesterday's post we looked at a fashion exhibition revolving around the world of colours that started from one main mood and shade - black. So let's refocus for today on the power of black.
We have already analysed in a previous post the possibilities that this neutral shade can give to a designer, especially when it is used as the foundation to reinvent innovative and exciting tailoring techniques.
Noir Kei Ninomiya is a releatively young brand employing only black in its collections and shifting the attention on construction techniques. The line is designed by a former Comme des Garçons pattern cutter.
Kei Ninomiya first studied French literature in Japan, then moved to Antwerp where he attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and later on joined Rei Kawakubo's team. In October 2012 the designer was given his own label.
Ninomiya is first and foremost an experimenter in construction techniques: the brand's A/W 2015-16 collection was for example focused on alternative ways to create new volumes around the body and featured dresses, jackets and coats that looked as if they were assembled with black bin bags that had been inflated and then quilted together in perfectly shaped cubes and rectangles.
The techniques employed by the designer looked at times more similar to the processes employed in Haute Couture ateliers: knits were made from thick strings; curled polyester strips were woven, bonded and studded to form 3D petals for black fractal-like fleurs du mal.
Ninomiya continued his experiments in finding methods of assembling alternative to conventional sewing for his S/S 2016 collection: though from a distance his pieces look rather intricate and difficult to make, if you analyse them closely they reveal simple yet ingeniously applied modular systems that could be easily replicated at home if you had the materials, time, patience and courage to do so.
The designer splices indeed fabric, twists it and adds beads, studs, metal rings, silver ball chains and macramé knots between the strips, creating a sort of dynamically kinetic blind-like effect that allows the fabric to move or float around the wearer's body.
All the pieces are made by hand, which means it may take four to five days to complete one design such as a coat integrating 4,000 studs in its construction; while a dress may end up integrating 7,000 hand-applied beads.
At times the techniques employed call to mind Paco Rabanne, yet, though the designs retain a certain sculptural beauty, the pieces are more wearable because, rather than being made from metal, they are assembled with fabric, tulle or leather.
In some cases there are also indirect references to architecture and engineering solutions with dresses made using layered and overlapping elements and pieces of fabrics assembled together with nails and forming a roof shingle effect.
Architecture-wise one design from the S/S 16 collection featured two inserts built from tiny metal elements that seemed to recreate on the dress the amoeba shaped windows carved in the concrete walls of the SESC Pompeia by Lina Bo Bardi.
Clever construction techniques were also employed by the designer to tackle other themes in the collection: while delicate undulating flounces or densely packed ruffles and a clear plastic vinyl biker jacket stitched together with a macramé of plastic cord (calling to mind the stitches on the body of Frankenstein's monster...) introduced the theme of light, the fact that at times the beads inserted between the strips of fabric leave and create uneven formations or the unravelled parts in a series of knotted strips of tulle trailing loosely from the waist in a dress, introduce the theme of the undone or the imperfect.
If fashion designers write a story with their collections, Ninomiya's may be considered as a dark tale divided in episodes in which it would easily be possible to detect some random horror elements (think about slicing fabric and the processes of cutting the skin or peeling it back during an autopsy and you get a great horror story there...), but his work is more about construction than about specific themes or moods.
Ninomiya doesn't seem to be scared by the forces of darkness and by the power this non-hue can give to his concentrated and at times decadently minimal asthetic: at the moment the designer produces over a hundred pieces a season characterised by his detailed construction techniques and claims he is not interested in adding more colours to his monochromatic palette.
It will be interesting to see what kinds of techniques he will be opting for in future collections and how he will develop the architectural grammar that he has employed to write the story of his designs so far.
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