Nihilo is a relatively new brand on the couture scene, crafted by Katherine Grace and Krishna Godhead. The brand came all the way from Bali to showcase their designs in Paris. It was worth the voyage. The show was set in the Museé de Cluny and it was the first time the space had been utilised for such an event. Beautiful stone walls, cobbled floors, sweeping ceilings, and an aura of history made one wonder how the space had escaped the fashion community so long. The set was dramatic and mysterious, much like the garments that followed.
Amongst the old ruins, the long floor length shapes and high necked tops in Duchesse satin and Thai silk felt orthodox in their modesty, while deep V’s and cocktail suits felt flamboyant and seductive. One of this collection’s attributes was the combination of the demure and the dramatic throughout; while the silhouettes were traditional, there was always an element of insightful modernity. A leg of mutton sleeve dress in muted brown was updated with a human body biology embroidery, a high-neck cape dress was modernised with a slight puffa-jacket aesthetic, and a dramatic crocodile torso draped atop organza and opera gloves felt like a new luxury adaptation for couture.
There were clear Lee McQueen influences, with dramatic sculptural shoulder, heel-less shoes, birds poking out of the chest and the use of animal feather as underskirt, all reminiscent of his pre-noughties work, but this wasn’t a copy-cat story, merely a clear thread of inspiration. Particularly unique, as not even Alexander McQueen produces this style of garment anymore. There is an excitement in the slightly old-fashionedness of these clothes. Interesting introductions of calico and unfinished hems were both unusual for couture, and a welcome rawness amongst the skins and silks. Gold, a colour Grace uses continuously in her work, was striking on choker and belt and added a slice of decadence against the neutral tones.
It’s a difficult market to crack, this couture business. There are so many established houses that clients have been paying custom to for years, but Nihilo seem to have tapped into a gap in the market. The Gareth Pugh fan would feel at home with this collection, as too would the devotees of Noritaka Tatehana. Nihilo literally translate to 'nothing' but far from nothing, this collection was noteworthy.