Kim Shui grew up in Italy. While for Americans it’s a vacation destination we would dream of going to, for Shui, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies growing up. Instead, the designer faced racism from her neighbors and classmates, marking a hurtful wound from her motherland. But these days, Shui is a CFDA/Vogue finalist and one of the next generation of American designers making their mark in fashion. She has an A-list clientele of celebrities who wear her pieces, including Blackpink, SZA, Kiko Mizuhara, and others. Tonight, she recreated her version of Italy in Manhattan’s oldest Italian restaurant—Barbetta. “I chose this space because of my Italian upbringing, to have that and have the clothes in the setting and to recreate my version of Italy that I had in my mind,” said Shui.
This was the most whimsical collection that’s come from Shui thus far. In her dream world of Italy, she found a perfect balance of her Asian heritage and mixed it with the La Dolce Vita lifestyle. Some pieces from the collection used mud silk, a sacred fabric in China, on more Western silhouettes like corsets and cinched waist blazers. Iterations of qipaos were made of lace and satin and featured a revealing cutout at the chest.
If last season Shui was designing for the girl who cared more about the Instagram moment, this season she also kept in mind the customers who want to buy investment pieces. Hemlines came in varying lengths so that the party girl who wants to take the subway to the club can do so with more peace of mind. But of course, it wouldn’t be a collection from Shui if there wasn’t any shock factor. Bralettes were tiny and covered just enough not to get a public lewdness charge in New York City, while lace trims covered everything that needed to be except for the logo’d Kim Shui underwear. There was also a floral print dress for everyone, maybe even a Jenner sister if they ever have another wedding to go to in Portofino.
Shui’s work might not be for everyone. But one thing that’s certain is that the people who love her clothing love it. Her models always strut confidently, ensuring those watching the show from the front row know what they’re missing out on.