Christopher Kane Fall 2016, Ready To Wear, London

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 Christopher Kane, Ready To Wear, Fall 2016, London

“Our mum used to embarrass us when she picked us up from school wearing one of those plastic rain hats,” said Tammy Kane, Christopher Kane’s sister. The very private world of the Kanes and their memories of growing up outside Glasgow in the ’90s will always inform Christopher Kane’s work. The Kanes suffered the loss of their mother a year ago, so the salute to Christine Kane was there at the beginning of the show, transformed into tied-under-the-chin plastic rain hats—the work of Stephen Jones. But searching for a linear trail of clues to make sense of how Kane processes ideas into clothes is never all that helpful. Briefing a crowd of journalists after the show, the designer spoke about reclusive hoarders, an outsider point of view, somebody living behind her own psychological bars. “She doesn’t know how to get out. She’s stuck.” Kane finds beauty in that manic predicament. “Things are so normal these days,” he shrugged. “So why not think out of the box?”

Really, the thing to watch a Kane show for are the creative fusion points where he produces something we’ve never quite seen before, trophies of fashion that you know on sight you’d urgently like to make your own. To this pair of eyes, that electricity hit halfway through this collection. The section of asymmetrical black tailoring, jackets, and scarves fringed with ostrich feathers in red, green, and faded pink had an off-hand elegance that would cause a mayhem of envy walking into any room. There would be no regrets spending the money on one of these: They had the quality of long-term classics a woman could—yes—hoard in her wardrobe to bring out again and again.

What else? Nearly ten years on from his neon body-con debut collection, which consisted of one tight (in both senses) statement, Kane is backed by Kering and has many commercial categories on the go and to show. The tubular Swarovski sparkle-mesh “bolster” necklaces the Kane siblings made for that original 2006 show continued as lanyards dangling sunglasses, or were whipped into whorls as big glamorous brooches around faceted stones. Crystal-dangling alphabet charms were pinned along necklines and scattered across skirts. A part of the show that involved haberdashery ribbons and scraps of fabric samples was also available in the form of one of Christopher Kane’s zip-top envelope clutches. All these came under the heading of little accessible things young girls can afford to show off with. A new gothic-type “K” logo on a beige sweater also seemed aimed at keeping a young audience engaged, which Kane needs to do to keep his brand hot.

Treading that line between reasonably affordable novelty and luxury is a really tough balancing act now—and obviously, that doesn’t just apply to Christopher Kane. On the elevated side, he can do a gray mink coat now, and the complex party dresses he’s made a name with are just as weirdly sexy—like the ones made from alternating stripes of tan pleather and sheer black lace that started the show. But the pressure to encompass it all, all the time, is a strain for every designer when the whole fashion environment is in upheaval. The underlying narrative of a woman in a disturbed mental state that came through Kane’s show today is easy enough to link with so many of this season’s other creative excursions into surrealism. It’s a mad world out there.

Text: Sarah Mower,
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.