I distinctly remember the menswear collection that Kay Kwok unveiled to the public as part of the London College of Fashion’s MA graduation show that I attended on 2 February 2012. Kwok’s outstanding garments produced for his MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear featured leather and neoprene textiles displaying bold shades of red, purple, orange and midnight blue or digitally printed spray-paint patterns with starburst zigzags, colour grading, and tie dye effects inspired by ancient Egyptian cosmological beliefs but evoking, nevertheless, some of Thierry Mugler’s creations from the late 1980s. The original qualities of the clothes range garnered a nomination for the Collection of The Year Award 2012 and went on to win the prestigious Mittelmoda Fashion Award by the Italian fashion industry. With such a dazzling beginning, it came as no surprise to me that, a year later, GQ China decided to support Kwok and allow him to showcase his inaugural collection of menswear for Spring/Summer 2014 during London Collections: Men on 16 June 2013.
Entitled ‘Hidden Force’, the collection was inspired by concepts investigated in Kwok’s earlier creations, namely the idea of a spiritual adventure within the earth’s current and a play on the energy transferred within the galaxy. Similarly, it included a number of design processes and fabric choices previously explored by Kwok, namely two-piece suits and outerwear made from fine neoprene digitally printed with hypnotic gradations of red and blue, and discreet fastening through concealed magnets instead of buttons. If these sartorial tropes still engendered enthralling results, it was an entire new section of knitted pieces and flowing silhouettes that ultimately added a new and very enriching dimension to Kwok’s creative potential.
Amongst the designs that stood out one could highlight the fluid knitted sleeveless tunics and vests with deep V-neck lines in a palette of black, grey and white combined with either soft black leather trousers and shorts or wide-cut trousers with tucked pleats at waist line. To further reinforce the innovative possibilities of reinterpreting menswear and traditional tailoring, Kwok deconstructed collar and lapel designs and sleeve widths in suits, blazers and leather overcoats by playing with symmetries and trompe l’oeil effects. In addition, his new and highly successful full set of hand luggage pieces made from soft leather (that accompanied a range of shoes designed by fellow LCF graduate Youngwon Kim) confirmed that Kay Kwok most certainly deserves to become a familiar name on the international menswear arena for many years to come.