Homegrown accessories giant Charles & Keith is growing its slate of designer collaborations. Last May saw its inaugural edition with Danish designer Cecilie Bahnsen and the collection proved to be a hit with the fashion crowd with its delicate, child-like aesthetic that stayed true to Bahnsen’s visual DNA while remaining accessible.
Fast forward to 2022 and the independent Shanghai-based label Shushu/Tong is Charles & Keith’s newest collaborator. For the uninitiated, the label is helmed by Chinese design duo Liushu Lei and Yutong Jiang.
Both graduated from London College of Fashion’s Womenswear MA programme and cut their teeth at Simone Rocha and Gareth Pugh respectively before launching their label, known for its playful, Lolita-esque aesthetic, in 2015.
The capsule collection is concise with only four designs: it comprises two small boxy shoulder bags with adjustable straps ($229.90), as well as a pair of patent leather Mary Janes pumps ($269.90). Every design incorporates the key motif of a stylised rose.
“The rose has become a significant symbol in literature and art, usually representing love and desire. Traditionally, roses only bloomed once a year, which means it was destined to live for a short period of time… Sharp thorns line its soft, delicate branches; this danger is a metaphor for the price we sometimes need to pay for love,” says Shushu/Tong in a press statement.
“Contrasting colours of red and black form the backbone of the collection. Their opposition – passion and sophistication – exemplify the inescapable temptation that love brings.”
Personally, we’re digging the subtly offbeat details in this collection. Take the Mary Janes for example – they sport chunky heels, a square toe and a very tactile, three-dimensional rose; the effect comes across as a quirky, vintage-loving librarian with a secret dominatrix side to her. Think Wednesday Addams, but in deliciously red patent leather.
And despite the initial lady-like appearance of the shoulder bags, the nifty adjustable strap seems to take inspiration from something more industrial, such as zip ties.
Together with the brilliantly colourful campaign (directed by fashion photographer Zeng Wu Zhang and styled by stylist Liu Xiao), it’s quite the clever translation of Shushu/Tong’s signature subversive take on hyper-femininity.
The collection launches January 11 at selected Charles & Keith stores as well as online.