Monday 22 January 2024

Fashion Meets Physics: Inside KidSuper’s 'String Theory' Show in Paris

American dancer Julian Mackay, a principal at the Bavarian State Ballet, performs at the Kidsuper show in Paris. Photograph by Nicholas MacKay. 

In an engaging fusion of fashion, art, and science, KidSuper’s Autumn/Winter 2024 runway show, titled String Theory, unveiled a collection that epitomizes the brand’s multifaceted approach. Colm Dillane uses his label to push the boundaries of traditional fashion shows to offer an immersive experience. Although, this season the American designer wanted it to be all about the clothes, he still opened with a spectacular dance performance and closed the presentation with superstar Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento

Soccer legend Ronaldinho with
designer Colm Dillane at the
finale of the show in Paris
INSIDE the grey concrete shell of a building site in Paris' 9th arrondissment, at a former early 20th century telephone exchange (a favourite with designers this season), Colm Dillane created an evocative space filled with long strings hanging from the ceiling and lit atmospherically. A metaphor for the American designer's exploration of the interconnectedness of all things, it was inspired by the theoretical framework of string theory, which proposes that the universe is composed of tiny, vibrating strings that form the fabric of reality. 

Showing his mathematical background and interest in science, Dillane wanted to explore in a playful way how the contradictions between Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum mechanics suggests that the fundamental constituents of the universe are not point particles, but rather one-dimensional strings that vibrate at different frequencies. 

These strings are intertwined in complex, multidimensional layers that reveal a deeper, intricate structure. Dillane drew a parallel between this scientific theory and the essence of KidSuper, highlighting the exploration of hidden connections and underlying patterns in our world. In the show notes, the designer even had an explanatory abstract written by his dad on the front page to this effect. 

The runway show itself was a testament to this philosophy. It wasn't only a display of fashion but an experimental playground where each piece told a story, inviting the audience to delve into the layers of creativity. The atmosphere was electric, with a palpable sense of anticipation as Ronaldinho, Jim Jones, Julian MacKay, and Dermot Kennedy walked the runway. 

The show's set design was a metaphor for Dillane's exploration of the interconnectedness of all things, inspired by the theoretical framework of string theory

Rapper Jim Jones struts his
stuff on the runway in 
KidSuper creations
The show kicked off with an enthralling performance by American ballet dancer Julian MacKay, a principal at the Bavarian State Ballet, whose graceful movements set the stage for the unfolding narrative. Dressed in a ruffled black outfit, MacKay's dance was combined with the music from live violin players. Beneath the layers, the dancer revealed a suit adorned with pointillist portraits. Following the violin performance, there was a dynamic hip-hop track featuring British rapper Giggs. 

Another rapper and music producer, Jim Jones added his flair to the show, strutting confidently in a burgundy suit paired with a coat embroidered with Dillane’s whimsical sketches. However, it was the appearance of soccer legend Ronaldinho that truly stole the show. 

Clad in a voluminous faux fur coat and a t-shirt emblazoned with his own image, Ronaldinho's presence highlighted the show's blend of high fashion and popular culture, much to the delight of the star-studded audience. 

The collection offered a mix of avant-garde aesthetics and practical wearability. Originally founded on streetwear in Brooklyn, New York, the KidSuper ethos of intricate designs and artwork blend successfully with puffer jackets, shirts and jeans. Accessories played an important role in enhancing the overall look, with Boston bags, crossbody bags, and hiking boots featuring prominently. The footwear, including loafers and thick-laced hiking boots, added a rugged note to ensembles, many in the designer's favourite purple.  

Soccer legend Ronaldinho stole the show, clad in a voluminous faux fur coat and a t-shirt emblazoned with his own image, highlighting the mix of high fashion and popular culture

One of the elegant suits
emblazoned with Dillane's 
signature artwork
Colm Dillane has always envisioned Kidsupter as more than just a clothing brand. He sees it as a creative collective that encompasses various forms of art, from painting and music to film and performance. Dillane's approach to design is one of energetic enthusiasm and a belief that everything is interconnected.

This philosophy was vividly reflected in this season's runway show, which served as a platform for Dillane to showcase his diverse talents and collaborative spirit. 

The show also featured pieces from KidSuper’s latest collaboration with Canada Goose and their partnership with the NBA. These included reversible fleece jackets, puffer vests, and footwear. The commercial partnership shows Dillane's ability to merge outerwear with artistic expression, resulting in pieces that are both functional and eye-catching. 

The designer's work has garnered significant recognition, including the 2021 special Karl Lagerfeld award at the LVMH Prize and the 2022 CDFA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Dillane’s guest design role for Louis Vuitton Homme’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection further cemented his status as a rising star in the fashion world. 

For Colm Dillane, KidSuper is a platform to explore and experiment while his collaborative approach, often facilitated through social media, allows him to connect with other creative minds and bring different perspectives to his work. The AW24 runway show blended art, science, and fashion into a cohesive narrative that was both intellectually stimulating and visually appealing. 

More highlights below from the Kidsuper AW24 show in Paris, including backstage 

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