SA Fashion Week Spring 16: Keys Fashion explores the vestal

If there was a theme that was properly explored at the 2016 South Africa Fashion Week, it would be the lady like dress. From Clive Rundle to Gert Johann Coetzee to Heart and Heritage, nearly every designer who showcased at the event had its own interpretation of the idea of the vestal dress.

South African label, Keys Fashion run by Ryan Keys, takes this idea of an austere virgin and expands on it for their Spring 16 collection.

All your love is not forbidden.

The fashion photographer and Parsons School of Design alum takes this idea of a star crossed love and tries to express it through clothing. As such the entire collection bears a certain fragility to it, expressed in fabric choices and detailing. The palette starts soft and darkens as the collection progresses, rounding out in a macabre black.

This ‘corruption’ also follows through in the design choices, the clothes get progressively risque after the first ten looks and by the last look, there is nothing but a smattering of three dimensional appliqued flowers lending the model the barest hint of modesty.

Keys’s strong suit is his mastery of embellishment, and the entire collection speaks to this. From swarovski crystals to laser cut 3D flowers, each piece is encrusted and appliqued and sequinned with complex motifs, distinguishing each one from the next. Keys also attempts and nails those risque dress lengths that have come to define Giambattista Valli, speaking to hidden strengths. Keys’s excellent hand only falters when he tries for demure dresses, they come off somewhat bland sitting on the model beside his more adventurous pieces. It would be hard to see anyone pick them over his other work.

Keys Fashion dances on the knife edge between Madonna and whore and manages not to lean too deeply into either side. And that is one hell of a trick to have up your sleeve.

Photo Credit; Safashionweek.co.za

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