In his third solo turn for Linder’s menswear collection, Kirk Millar resurrects the legend of Russia’s Romanov dynasty — and the reality of its grim fate at the hands of the Bolsheviks in 1918 — as an allegory for the state of the fashion industry today. That is, old-guard institutions and norms are not impregnable but, rather, face a sea change in regimes and identity that may force them to transform, fall apart, or, as the story goes, meet brutal execution.
“It’s one of those tragic stories everybody is captivated by at some point,” says Millar. “But aesthetically, the Romanovs actually were very stylish.”
Rather a bleak concept for Fall, but the co-ed brand has gained street cred for filtering idiosyncratic quirks and personal narratives (often drawing upon Millar’s own coming out experiences) into a grungy, downtown aesthetic. Playing on the faded glamour inherent to the theme, Millar presented his collection in the period parlor of a Greenwich Village brownstone on Tuesday. Stoic models sit beneath crystal chandeliers — clad in Swarovski crystal-laden diadems, necklaces, and earrings to match — as a cello and theorbo string duo played.
References to Imperial-era Russia are evident. Small cameos of the four Romanov children, including the famed Anastasia, appear as details on mao-neck shirts and lightweight boxer-esque shorts. One model sits with ballet slippers and a scarf, also bearing a cameo print, wrapped babooshka-style. Monochromatic sweatshirts decorated with two patches each, one an image of a tsar in military attire, are paired with tube socks and fur shawls. Elsewhere, wearable brand staples, like button-front denim trousers and tank tops are represented.
Millar, while wearing a glittering necklace himself, explains the lore: “When the Romanovs were executed, bullets ricocheted off their jewelry because so much was sewn in their garments.” Accordingly, printed spandex turtlenecks and leggings, styled as standalone pieces and layered as undergarments, reveal hidden gemstones.
“We’re in a time where it feels like something’s shifting, just as much as that shifted back then,” Millar continues. “The internet has changed so much of how we interact with fashion in the same way that, at that time, royalty was becoming something that felt outdated. People changed what they were hoping for.”