Leave it to quirky UK designer Kriss Soonik to release a new spring collection bearing a name that sounds like a riddle. Or a metaphor. Or a pun. Or all three.
‘The Cat That Walked By Herself’, which is what Soonik calls her spring line, doesn’t seem to have any relation to its assortment of lingerie, loungewear and hybrid loungerie items. And the collection has no tails, kitten ears or even the plush faux fur that showed up in Soonik’s last collection.
But if you know this label, you’ll recognize the cat in the title as a reference to the brand’s logo and longtime mascot, a playful black cat. And that ‘The Cat That Walked By Herself’ (note the gender) is Soonik herself, a fiercely independent iconoclast who, after seven years in business, has good reason to feel proud about standing on her own two feet in an industry that too often chews up and spits out the young renegades.
Soonik isn’t the kind of designer who’s comfortable on a traditional fashion catwalk (there’s the pun in the title) and she expresses her brand’s individuality with a charming lookbook in which model Ella Arula blithely climbs trees and hops garden fences in her skimpy undies.
In a blog post about the photo campaign, Soonik says the new collection is a tribute to “independent, stubborn and gorgeous women” — those rule-breakers in fashion and life who do whatever the hell they want.
“She is exactly who she really is — a bit goofy, but incredibly beautiful and completely unaware of it. Even if she notices someone staring at her from the bushes, she doesn’t really care. She is so comfortable in her own company and can easily entertain herself.”
That’s as good a description of Soonik’s brand identity as you’re likely to find and, beyond that, a celebration of all those other trend-averse indie lingerie designers who have stubbornly insinuated themselves into a fashion category that prizes conformity.
Soonik, a transplanted Estonian who was named Estonia’s fashion designer of the year in 2014, has built an improbable career by indulging her fondness for unconventional garments, some of which — the Diana ‘wings’ wrap, the Susan open-front lace bodysuit — have become classics.
Over the years, Soonik has drifted away from her original fashion concept of ‘loungerie’ to include a wider range of styles that still fit under the broad umbrella of lingerie-as-outerwear. The spring ‘Cat’ collection is a predictably esoteric assortment that includes lacy bras and peekaboo knickers, comfy knit lounging shorts and tanks, a revealing 60s-inspired babydoll and oddball signature pieces like the Kristel polo-shirt suspender body.
This collection, like everything Soonik has done over the years, isn’t just a declaration of independence, it’s also proof of what can be achieved when you follow your instincts instead of the trade press and trend forecasters.
As the designer says in a blog post marking her 7th anniversary, “No one knows what will happen, so do it your way.”
Below are some more images from Kriss Soonik‘s spring campaign, which was shot by Sandra Palm and, as always, isn’t like anything else you’ll see this year.