Each month ELLE UK puts a spotlight on small fashion brands. This month, we speak to London-based Camille Perry and Holly Wright, who founded Tove.
North London-based brand Kiko Kostadinov started life as a menswear brand. But, since it was launched by namesake Bulgarian designer Kiko Kostadinov in 2017, it’s grown into a fully-fledged ready-to-wear label with a dedicated womenswear line, a string of hit collaborations with sportswear powerhouse Asics, and a list of superstar fans including Emma Corrin, Tessa Thompson, Beyoncé and more.
Behind the success of the brand’s womenswear, launched in 2018, are 31-year-old twins Laura and Deanna Fanning—two deeply thoughtful sisters with a knack for creating striking knits; innovatively cut trousers; and prints so vivid, their energy bursts from the cloth, bringing an animating principle to the most pedestrian outfits. Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, their current Wood Green base is a far cry from the leafy suburb where they grew up.
‘Our parents were school teachers; our lives were extremely normal,’ Laura laughs. Fashion was a creative outlet introduced to them via their great aunt, a dressmaker with stacks of Italian Vogue in her garage-come-studio, where the sisters would patch-together offcuts and draw. ‘The benefit of being so isolated in the suburbs is that it really gives you the chance to dream.’
Dream they did, setting their sights on London for its prestigious art schools, with Deanna enrolling on the BA knitwear course at Central Saint Martins, after completing a foundation course at Camberwell College of Art, in 2013. Laura joined her sister in 2016 (after training at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology), enrolling on Central Saint Martins’ renowned MA fashion course as a duo. The opportunity to launch womenswear with Kostadinov came about organically. ‘We already had a personal and professional relationship with him, so it made sense,’ Deanna says, having assisted the menswear designer as a student.
The womenswear is distinct from the menswear, though. ‘It’s not really our interpretation of what Kiko would design for women. But we have the same ideals in terms of craft and wanting to push ourselves to do new things.’ What feels new is the sisters’ original spins on traditional styles, modernising tailored trousers with spliced seams and star-shaped stitching (worn by Corrin and Thompson).
There is everything a woman seeks for everyday life too, with the sisters offering a full wardrobe, creating sumptuous shearling knits, shirting, suit jackets, and accessories, all carrying the Kiko Kostadinov USP: graphic op-art prints and a playful, striking approach to colour.
‘Our mother’s side is Italian, and Italian designers have an interesting way with colour; through an Anglo and Australian lens, it can seem quite aggressive!’ Deanna laughs—but it works, with the same jolie laide appeal as Miuccia Prada, renowned for her appealing combination of unexpected hues.
For AW21, the sisters have produced their own sleek pop-coloured ‘it’ bag—their interpretation of the classic Baguette, adding to a growing range that includes statement sunglasses, a unisex fragrance, and sell-out shoes. ‘We want women to have great pieces they know they can wear with anything,’ Laura explains. But with their expansive offer, you can get by just wearing Kiko Kostadinov.
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