The collection looks to the deserts of North Africa and to the ancient cultures of the Middle East. There is a heritage feel to the use of embroidery and decoration – which includes beading and metalwork—that recalls intricate hand-crafting. Textures, prints, embellishments, and material treatments combine to create an effect that hints at ethnicity—a life lived among the shifting sands and hot, unforgiving winds of a barren but beautiful landscape. These are clothes that feel authentic, lived-in, and loved.
Of course, this being a Kenneth Cole collection, the natural, almost homespun look has been filtered through a contemporary lens. These are clothes for 21st-century urban nomads. Masculine styles are adopted by women, black is an emotional rather than climatic choice, shapes subvert expectations, and synthetics are mixed with natural materials. If these clothes are fluid and suggest movement, then that could just as likely be the result of a downdraft in Manhattan as of a breeze over the Sahara.
Mixed fabrics and ethnic embellishments define a collection of flowing pieces in modern, often oversized, simple shapes. Asymmetric designs, short in the front and long at the back, complement slouchy constructions in double-faced cotton, while raffia and chiffon are adorned with jewels, embroidery, and beading, and edged with leather piping or gold tassels.
Baggy trousers are narrow at the bottom, while soft menswear-inspired tailoring adds to the general layered look. Mini-skirts are worn with flowing chiffon shirts, and Bermudas are long, as are blouses. A vest is constructed from embroidered metal; a motorcycle jacket with a strong shoulder comes in leather mixed with crepe. Coats fit for the desert mix linen and leather together, while other materials that look like leather turn out to be pure linen.
In keeping with the desert spirit of the women’s collection, the menswear shares the same tough, lived-in spirit. However, here the pieces have a harder edge with a worn-in, utilitarian feel. The shapes are simple and modern, and the collection is rendered in raw and washed fabrics, speckled textures, metallic leathers, loose knits, distressed canvas, and soft suede. Natural colors and embroidery define the look.
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