The Monarchy Collection debut at the tents on Saturday night was notable not just because the label had been a regular fixture at Los Angeles Fashion Week in the past, but because as designer Eric Kim took to the runway for his bow, the creative team that came with him included a familiar face — Los Angeles designer David Cardona, who most recently appeared here a year ago during an extremely short stint with Culver City-based denim brand Rock & Republic.
Backstage after the show, Cardona told us he joined Kim and company “about 5 1/2 weeks ago” as design director for women’s wear. So, how much of the women’s clothing on the runway bore his imprint? “All of it,” Cardona said with a chuckle. “We moved pretty quick in just under six weeks, didn’t we?” We found the comment noteworthy since Cardona’s departure from R&R seemed to be somehow wrapped up in CEO Michael Ball’s inability to share the creative credit. (On a side note, R&R appears to be MIA in NYC this season.)
The collection was titled “Smoke & Mirrors,” which Kim said after the show was a reference to the verbal sleight-of-hand that has people continuing to classify the collection as “a denim-based line” when in actuality denim has, at best, a supporting role in the higher-end collection, which includes suits, draped dresses, leather jackets, trench coats and dress shirts.
Kim told us the inspiration for the fall collection came from several recent trips to Europe. “There wasn’t much on TV in English, so I ended up watching a lot of dog shows and equestrian competitions, and that gave me the idea for a kind of Scottish equestrian look.”
For the men that translated into gray suits, waistcoats, plaid and paisley ties, and a regiment’s worth of military (the cavalry, perhaps?) influenced leather jackets and double-breasted trenches. Some of the men sported natty derbies by Victor Osborne (it was velvet, pom-pommed Muehlbauer riding hats for the ladies).
For the ladies, that inevitably meant high-waisted jodhpurs, high-collared shirts and trench coats paired with equestrian boots. The gauzy hooded dresses, multi-zip coats and drapy, off-the-shoulder dress in black jersey didn’t fit as neatly into the horsey aesthetic, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Kim said he considered the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week debut in New York a success and planned to return “as long as they’ll have me.”
“You can see why it costs so much more to show here,” he said [the base cost of showing in the tents ranged from $25,000 to $50,000 this season]. “They’ve got this incredible set-up and everything just goes without a hitch.”
So that means we can expect to see Monarchy (and Cardona) back in the New York Fashion Week saddle next season.