What do Beyoncè, Willow Smith and Serena Williams all have in common? A penchant for the va-va-voom éclat of London-based womenswear designer, David Koma. With an army of fearless women, steadfast in their backing of the Koma-sphere, his extensive design lexicon finds harmony in audacious sexiness and the art of seduction – divine feminine power is the cherry on top.

Without subjugating the body to the garment itself, Koma works with the female figure like a sculptor, creating a nuclear marriage between natural angles and proportions while concentrating on curves and twisting materials into something red-hot and au courant. To Koma, the relationship between clothing and identity is within oneself and though at times interchangeable, clothing is secondary and should be used to embrace, showcase and support what lies beneath. “Sometimes you wear the piece and sometimes it wears you,” he says.

 

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My Zoom call with the quasi-celebrity squeezes itself into a booked-and-busy afternoon at his East London studio just days after the Oscars. He’s spent the morning playing with fresh fabrics and tethering knits at a customary fitting – the first of many – for the new season. It’s a while before any stressful deadlines come to play so he’s taking his time, exploring serendipity and cementing the right “vibe” for the upcoming collection. Right now, Koma says he’s just having fun. 

Fashion design was always in the cards for the Georgian designer. When he was eight, Koma had already begun sketching the days away with a glimmer of an interest in imaginary clothes. By 12, he had taken part in his first design competition: meant for students, the organisers were so enthralled by his attitude and initial sketches that they agreed to give him a shot. “They were shocked that I was so little,” he says. Koma didn’t win but he’d finally tasted the sweet nectar of fashion’s fabulous idiosyncrasies, and with a newfound sense of freedom and validation came a fresh impetus – he was hooked. 

In his teens he had his very first atelier and at only 17 he packed his bags and commenced a classical education at his dream university, Central Saint Martins. After completing his MA, Koma launched his namesake label in 2009, and in 2013 would undertake a four-year stint as the creative director of Mugler. Though he credits big names like Azzedine Alaïa, Pierre Cardin and Geoffrey Beene as some of his greatest sources of inspiration, it’s Manfred Thierry Mugler who is the designer’s biggest hero. “Mr. Manfred will always stay in my heart,” he says. “Working as creative director for his brand was a crazy childhood dream come true.” 

At first a relatively small enterprise, his eponymous label is no longer in the industry’s periphery and it’s far from hyperbole to suggest that the designer’s business is booming. When it comes to his glittering clientele it’s more a question of who isn’t sporting the brand. His A-list fanbase includes starlets like Solange and J-Lo alongside Gen Z favs like Olivia Rodrigo. Recently, Anne Hathaway debuted an aquamarine, deconstructed gown appropriated from Koma’s SS22 collection at the red carpet premiere of We Crashed. Elsewhere, at the November premiere of Oscar nominated film, King Richard, Serena Williams and her four-year-old daughter, Olympia, wore matching embellished bodysuits – talk about #twinning.

 

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Then at the official Oscars ceremony, Beyoncé, who Koma unabashedly proclaims is his “number one super icon” performed at the Compton tennis courts where the Williams’ trained in their youth – and she did it decked out in custom David Koma. “It was a total combination of the dream and joy,” he says of the experience. Working with Marni on the look and using a completely transparent signature recycled sequin wet-look fabric from SS22 juxtaposed with an AW22 silhouette he created the perfect look for his “perfect queen”. With added feathers, bold earrings, a garter on the upper-thigh and evening gloves, the result was utterly powerful. Koma explains, “If you want to be a great tennis player, you have to play a grand slam. For me, seeing Beyoncé at the Oscars in my dress was my grand slam.” 

When it comes to the colours that permeate his collections, you may be familiar with the electric hues that crossed the catwalk over the summer or the ferocious shades that took on fall. But, Koma admits that there’s more to be said of his canon than the neon and the coy. In truth, Koma in his truest, most infantile form, is monochrome. “I always feel much more comfortable working with minimal colours. My favourite palette is quite demure,” he admits. He does enjoy switching things up from time-to-time, playing with vibrancy and colour concepts: “That’s why we have four seasons!”

 

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There’s a sensuality to Koma’s clothes that transcends the sorbet hues and sanguine tinctures. Designing to praise and uplift women, the celebration of female power and their inherent strength is a pillar central to Koma’s creative vision. Growing up in Tbilisi, Georgia, he recalls “Even when I was a kid I found myself looking up to women.” Providing two main reasons for feeling inspired, he adds, “I physically find the female body incredibly beautiful and I have always been fascinated by the ability of women to have a child and give birth.” Plus, Koma describes women as “the most incredible creatures in the world”. 

Koma’s studio sits on the junction of East London and City. Within, he takes a family-style teamwork approach and credits the social environment with keeping his gears turning. Having already established an uplifting atmosphere, the next best thing to add to Koma’s studio would be high ceilings, more space and maybe even a pool. “Why not?”

As you might imagine, this live-and-let-live attitude goes beyond the potential for swims at the studio and integrates seamlessly into his daily life. After 20 years on British soil, the start of 2022 saw the designer granted British citizenship. I congratulate him on his recent inauguration into the land of baked beans, rugby and football. “It feels pretty good,” he laughs in reply.

Speaking of footy, Koma consistently plays with the dichotomy between sport and femininity. Indeed vindicating the reciprocity between the two, his designs are often inspired by athleticism, good posture and health. “Sport always stays relevant,” he says. Growing up immersed in the gruelling world of tennis with his father’s expectation that he’d eventually become an elite player, Koma pulls from the culture of his youth to inform his work. For his AW22 collection, the beloved uniform of UK sport served as the foundation of his designs: the result, a high-octane edit fit for a fanciful rugger. 











With this in mind, it’s no surprise that his SS21 collection covered tennis, SS22 dove deep into swimming and pre-fall was all about motorsport. By using classic materials like wool-crepe and silk, with high-action materials that bring a sense of modernity, he’s able to create an edgy, modern twist on high-performance, timeless silhouettes. Think wrinkle-free, lightweight and high-stretch fabrics to take you from the court to the club. “Sport is my comfort zone. I just go there and I feel good. It’s my secret weapon,” he says. 











What’s more, new clothing categories are on the horizon: first up, the extravagant sphere of accessories. His autumn/winter 2022 catwalk debuted the first David Koma footwear and, as you might expect, they were bedazzled stiletto boots that channelled athletic shin pads. Up next: bags. Koma also expects to expand with a flagship store and an extensive direct-from-David-Koma e-commerce site, both of which are in the midst of negotiations set to come to fruition soon. “The sky’s the limit.”

His advice for the Koma woman? Keep wearing David Koma. His advice for everyone else? Start wearing David Koma; but in all seriousness, he says with a smile: “Be happy, be yourself and the rest will follow.”

Photography courtesy of David Koma.

davidkoma.com

The post Ten Meets David Koma, The Georgian Designer Ruling The Red Carpet appeared first on 10 Magazine.

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