Icons of Mystery

SS23 preview: AV Vattev pays tribute to the wild style of Princess Kalina of Bulgaria
By Bailey Slater | Fashion | 15 September 2022
This article is part of Fashion Week – London, Milan, Paris, NYC

Something about the opulence of royal style has kept the design world satiated for aeons. Maybe it’s the jewels, the pomp and grandeur of men in stockings and ruffs, or perhaps we all just love a gigantic gown, but whatever your excuse, in fashion, you’re certainly not alone in this fascination.

For his forthcoming SS23 collection, London-based designer AV Vattev has tapped into such a pool of inspiration, though instead of looking to the pearl-stoned crowns and lavish furs of Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away last Thursday, Vattev has instead found solace in the eccentric whims of Princess Kalina of Bulgaria. Daughter to Tsar Simeon II, Kalina’s personal style is a far cry from that of Kate and Megan, consisting of studded dog collars (yes, really!), calf-high Dr Martens boots and gold-braided wigs.

Vattev’s reinterpretation, however, considers all this regality under the guise of modern streetwear silhouettes. The designer rebels against supposed notions of formality with voluminous shoulders and glossy leathers, patterns that are raucous yet controlled, and fabrics that fold and interlope over one another as if they were thick, layered spider webs. Whether studded or fur-lined, the buck doesn’t stop with Kalin. Vattev also looks to the sartorial pursuits of his favourite musical icons – dubbed ‘Icons of Mystery’ in the collection’s title – like David Bowie and Grace Jones, as the rest of the entrancing tale plays out in bright colours and asymmetric cuts. 

Above: Princess Kalina of Bulgaria

You’ve had a crazy past year, what’s been the maddest moment of 2022 for you?
“The maddest moment of 2022 for me was when we came back to Paris for the very first time after the pandemic – we had our FW22 showroom there and it was so great to see everyone in person, rather than on Zoom. Also, going out dancing again.”

‘Icons of Mystery’ is a fab collection title, talk us through what it means…
“The name of the collection comes from Patti Smith’s song April Fool – I love the lyrics of this song. Also, the whole collection is based on an icon, Princess Kalina of Bulgaria. Icons are always surrounded by mystery and everyone has their own interpretation of them.”

Who are your Icons of Mystery?
“The obvious answer is Mick Jagger, Grace Jones, David Bowie, and Jim Morrison, but there are so many…”

What are your pre-show rituals?
“My pre-show ritual is to say a big thank you to everyone involved. It’s simple but very important!”

You’ve worked alongside Robbie Spencer and Lola & Pani to create the lookbook, how did that all come together?
“Those are people who believed in me and this project, and I am more than grateful for their support. It’s wonderful to be backed by people whose work I admire so much.”

Without spoiling too much, give us a sentence that ties the collection together.
“This collection is rooted in tradition with just a hint of rebellion.”

Stay tuned for the full AV Vattev SS23 collection.

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