KNWLS Caters to Adrenaline Junkies in Their S/S-22 Campaign
“High octane, high energy, unruly, and a bit wild” is how designers Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault describe the KNWLS customer. It was only fitting that the British label previously known as Charlotte Knowles (the forename and consonants were dropped in 2021 to support a more inclusive – and expansive – brand vision) made their runway debut with a collection called “Adrenaline” at London Fashion Week last fall.
They presented their Spring/Summer 2022 collection in an industrial garage on London's Oxford Street. "The space is a giant circular car park, with a really low ceiling. When we saw it, we were immediately taken by how imposing it looked. With the lighting and the music reverberating on concrete walls I think it really dragged people into our world and hopefully made them want to stay in it,” the designers said. The pupil-widening, pulse-racing environment echoed the energy and anticipation that aggregated in the lull of the pandemic, which delayed KNWLS' runway premiere after a period of tremendous growth.
Models strutted down the gritty catwalk in the newest iterations of the garments KNWLS has become famous for: waist-cinching, future-forward corsets and low-rise, curve-hugging pants. Typically, adrenaline is about fight or fight (the KNWLS girl is definitely a fighter), but Knowles and Arsenault’s “Adrenaline” collection was inspired by a different correlative conjunction: “ride or die.” They distilled the riding theme through the lens of the Wild West, nodding to Pioneertown saloons and starlit hoe-downs with snake-skinned cowboy hats, acid-washed suede skirts, and Mojave-inspired earrings.
KNWLS tapped photographer Carlijn Jacobs to channel the IRL energy of “Adrenaline” into the digital world. The new campaign triggers a rush of references that infuse the spaghetti western theme, ranging from 1990s Jean Paul Gaultier to the Haight-Ashbury's "Summer of Love." Jacobs' neon set contrasts with 1970s earth tones and 2020s styling, mirroring the unlikely fusion of eras and atmospheres that makes KNWLS so exciting.