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  • Sean Holley

Wildside Volume 2: An Exclusive Conversation with Kié Einzelgänger

Recently, ARCHIVE.pdf spoke with Antwerp-based designer Kié Einzelgänger about her second collaboration with Wildside Yohji Yamamoto, which was released in April 2023. Kié designs elegant, complex clothing informed by her fascination with the Interbellum (inter-war) culture that lasted from 1918-1939, and her second project with Wildside is a continuation of this premise. In this collection, Kié reprised the structure of her first Wildside collaboration, again choosing to experiment with the concept of three semi-formal shirting options.

The key idea behind Kié Einzelgänger x Wildside Volume 2 is the concept of unintentional oppositeness, which is a phenomenon where we act differently to others without there being any conscious intent behind our rebellion. This concept surfaces in the design of all three pieces: they all feature understated stitching details and quirks in construction that only reveal themselves upon closer examination. There is clearly far more than meets the eye when it comes to Kié Einzelgänger’s work, so we spoke about the inspirations, imagery, and other key behind-the-scenes details from her second Wildside collection. Read the full text of our interview below:

Collection Overview

Hello Kié, to begin this interview, can you tell us the story of your second Wildside collection? What were your intentions when starting the second installment of this project, what were some key moments in the production process, and how do you want people to interact with these garments? Also, do you believe your successful collaboration between a Japanese and Belgian brand will inspire other brands to do the same?

The materials were kindly provided by YY. The traditional Cotton broadcloth and the warm black Rayon. It was a satisfying limitation to start the design process exclusively with these fabrics. All three shirts in the collection have an interesting reversed detail: by including discreet seams and other elements on the exterior surface of the shirts, they appear as if they were turned inside-out. This makes the garments versatile enough to be worn as either a jacket or shirt.

The cotton broadcloth shirt with 4 hidden and inside pockets is designed to be worn buttoned or unbuttoned. The cuffs can be flipped over and used as a French Cuff as the shorter length for women.

The rayon layered shirt has a reversed detail of the voluminous drape that is extended from the shirt's hem, almost looking like a Möbius strip, and the design is sculpted to appear differently from all angles.

The rayon open collar shirt has a reversed hem, reversed facing, reversed pleats, reversed straps and reversed french seams. The pattern was drafted from scratch with the reference of a painting from Rudolf Schlichter, Portrait of Margot (1924). This shirt has the most classic detailed sources from the Interbellum period.

It is carefully made in Japan, and designed in Belgium. This type of production combination is certainly rare in this 21st century. I do believe that merging the influence of different environments during the production process brings unseen results.

Could you define the concept of "Unintentionally being opposite", and discuss how it informed your design choices for this second Wildside collection? How did you integrate the idea of unintentionally being opposite into the editorial images surrounding the collection, and when you were planning the editorial, did you have other ideas in mind you also wanted to highlight?

Every time I initiate the creative direction for a photoshoot, I write 2-3 pages of scenarios for the entire team to understand what this photoshoot is all about. The below image is an example of one of these scenarios. The starting point was my own definition of "Wildside". I have been considering this definition since the beginning of my work with Wildside Yohji Yamamoto in July 2022. Ever since my childhood, I have found myself being unintentionally opposite to things in my life, whether they are situations, topics, or groups of people. The Einzelgänger moments where you find yourself going in the opposite direction from something else without knowing became the main theme of this second collection.

This photoshoot was mainly about "the non-innocent side of children'', and it was largely inspired by my childhood diary entries. I was severely bullied during this time, and one of the goals for the photoshoot was to capture the feeling of desperation found in my old writings through the lens of black comedy. I sourced the visual reference from the milk scene of Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange, and our photoshoot was started from the portrait of model Rocky Tuzava drinking a glass of milk.

It would be ideal for my customers to feel this spirit of unintentional oppositeness when they are dressed in these reversed designs, as they are discreetly diverging from the normal clothing around them. Experiencing an Einzelgänger spirit that way…

I noticed that the first and second Wildside collections follow a similar premise: Three versatile shirts constructed with Yohji Yamamoto’s fabric. What was your intention when you decided to make this creative choice? In what ways do you believe the repetition of motifs can lead to the creation of deep meaning over time?

The selection of three consistent designs was indeed a suggestion from YY, and it suited my speed of creation perfectly at the time. Having a suggested fabric selection in the beginning also enabled me to dive into constructing the silhouettes right away. And yes, it was my intention to produce a collection that is cohesive with my first Wildside collaboration, because I wanted clients to feel familiar with the products. In the future, I will do my best to maintain the consistency, so that there will continue to be an affinity between the garments and their wearer. Just like encountering a friend that you have known for a long time.

Editorial Shoot

How did you choose the models for your second Wildside editorial? Were you personally involved in the casting process, do you have a personal relationship with the models, and have you worked with them in the past? Also, what was your reasoning for keeping the editorial to just 2 models?