• Patrick Michael Hughes

KA WA KEY- Butterfly Lovers

Patrick Michael Hughes-Senior Fashion Editor / Men's Fashion Writer

Photographs by Jarno Leppanen


LONDON: ‘Butterfly Lovers’ is one of the great Chinese folktales form the Great Folkloric Movement of the nineteen twenties with roots in the Tang Dynasty. The narrative is a tragic love story between Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai a tale of gender disguise, falling in love, the duty of arranged marriage hastening death by heartbreak followed by a suicide. The conclusion of the legend is that the the spirits of lovers emerge to form of a pair of butterflies. The brightly colored pair fly away together never to be separated again. There is a statue to the tale in Verona, Italy. Traditionally in Chinese art butterflies symbols of good luck and a celebration of a long life.


KA WA KEY Spring/Summer 2022 vibrant color palate was inspired by the fragile and wings of butterflies. Fragile beauty was an ongoing theme and concept for the brands recent collaborations. The knits are made using bespoke and sustainable space-dyed yarns a technique of giving wool a multi hued effect with a two colors being dominant. Devoré, which is the technique commonly known as burnout used on pile textiles to create patterns in textiles.

This season the brand collaborated with Finnish SPINNOVA®, creating a small capsule collection using SPINNOVA® fabrics and yarns.


The sustainable and fully circular SPINNOVA® fibre is made out of wood or waste, produced without harmful chemicals and with minimal water usage and CO2 emissions. The SPINNOVA® fibre uses 99% less water and produces nearly 65% less CO2 emissions than cotton production.


The London brand is known for being a gender-fluid label is created by Key Chow and Jarno Leppanen. The designers re-work and re-imagine traditional textile crafts using sustainable materials. For a number of season prior to the pandemic the brand showed at New York Men's Day. The performance of personality, youth and standout knitwear are trademarks of the brand.


KA WA KEY has recently created the costumes for RUNE a fashion opera, which was performed at Round Chapel in London as part of Tête à Tête Opera Festival. The resulting capsule collection was a feature in this cross-disciplinary collaboration combining fashion, music and dance. The music and lyrics were composed and written by Alastair White. The work featured an ensemble of three grand pianos, and blended elements of contemporary dance with interactive sculpture. Opera Wire reported about the piece with a statement from the composer Alastair White “the opera is inspired by how the arbitrary sequencing of language, quantum states and interpersonal relations are fundamentally linked: through our endlessly creative ability to transform their disassociation into generous, open, infinite meanings – from the RUNE’s lifeless inertia to its tracing in voyages, songs, and love. ‘RUNE’ is a hymn to the power of these meanings as bridges between people: and a call to their importance in light of the dark and difficult century that lies ahead.”


KA WA KEY are H&M Design Award Finalist, International Woolmark Prize 2018 semifinalist, Center of Fashion Enterprise Fashion Pioneer Program graduate and the Royal College of Art.








Recent Posts

See All