When I first met Kevin at his home in Angel one sunny afternoon, I was delighted to see the perfectly placed boxes of beads stacked high upon the windowsill, towering above an amazing view of North London rooftops. It wasn’t long before Kevin was explaining how his graduate collection was the wildest experiment he had ever attempted. “My whole life I have been raised by strict parents, and they ingrained in me a desire to achieve perfection. To look sleek, to have perfect hair, and a stable job.” Having studied fashion for a year in Geneva before arriving at Central St Martins, Kevin grew tired of hearing that his work was too controlled. “Everyone kept telling me to let go! It must be a Swiss thing,” he says, laughing and shaking his head. “For my final collection I really wanted to show everyone what I was capable of, and I knew it could be the last time that I work entirely by myself.”
Kevin’s graduate collection is unlike anything I have seen before. Perhaps this is partly due to his source of inspiration being truly unique in itself. His collection is based upon two female anime characters and their electrifying transitioning phases. The duo are transforming themselves into bigger, brighter, and more powerful versions of their former selves. Alter egos so to speak. Cue the strobe lights, darting sparks, flashes of luminous light and a whirlwind of colour. This enchanting re-birth holds an intrinsically deeper meaning for Kevin, who as a child can recall watching his favourite show religiously. “I was obsessed with these anime characters because I could relate. There was this school-girl who just wanted to be a hero, and then there was me. A young boy living in a small Swiss village, who just yearned to be a fashion designer.” For Kevin, everything suddenly became a little clearer, “This explosion is something inside of me. It is about how I can explore these feelings.” Kevin knew he had to investigate this connection further, and during his hours of research he realised that “each transition phase used the same colour scheme.” A light-bulb moment followed. Kevin now knew what he was going to do for his final collection. He was going to show everyone that he could be free and wild in ways they couldn’t have imagined. It was time for his transformation.
Not only does the collection look extravagant, it is also entirely sustainable. Now you may be asking yourself – how on earth is that even possible? Kevin’s life-long love of couture wasn’t going to stop his dream of creating something that is also sustainable. “I really wanted to show people that sustainability can be fashionable too. Today, people see sustainability as a trend. That’s so stupid, it’s not a trend. It should always hold importance.” Something that has always been important to Kevin is making use of what you have and avoiding excess consumption. “Why would you not be more flexible and work with what you have?” Kevin wondered while discussing a previous internship at a fashion label. “Instead of spending more money and consuming more than you need, use the materials that you have. Can fashion be humble and nice again?” Kevin pleads, referring back to his design idol Christian Dior who revolutionised post-war fashion. “It’s more about the way he thought. You have to remember that after the war everyone was worrying about a lack of money. Christian Dior however, his mind worked in a completely different way. I wish one day I will think like him, to see sustainability and create something completely unique, unthought of and fit for the future.”
The Swiss designer goes on to explain the difference between his collection and the typical “linen t-shirt with ECO boldly printed on it, or recycled denim jeans. Not that these are bad ideas, but I wanted to explore what the future holds for sustainability.” Kevin’s eyes light up as he squeezes his hands tightly together in a prayer-like position – “My dream would be for people to look at the beaded dresses and appreciate the vibrant colours, the sleek cut, and overall look of the outfits. Only then, would I want them to know that it is sustainable. There are many preconceptions that come with the word sustainable, and I want my collection to be judgement-free.”
Kevin spent months carefully sourcing the materials he would use for the collection. They had to be sustainable, reasonably priced and in good condition. The designer ended up using nude wool that “couldn’t be sold because it was stained in places.” For Kevin’s project this was perfect, as he knew he was coating the dresses in brightly coloured beads. When it came to creating his belts, necklaces and fabric knots, Kevin inventively made use of the ends of premium tailoring wool. Kevin has definitely succeeded. The last thing you would expect when looking at Kevin’s electric collection, is for it to be sustainable. Each piece is utterly unique, bursting with colour, crafted to perfection – it’s simply brilliant.
Words Bella Russel-Hills
Images Courtesy of Kevin Germanier