21 February 2017

Christopher Kane

“Process. Process. Process,” a female voice-over repeated on the Christopher Kane runway. It had an automated, machine-age ring to it—and indeed, there was a description of Kane’s interest in factory workers and lab technicians in the press release. Really, though, what Kane was hinting at was the primacy of his own creative process, an inexplicable firing of the synapses which can decide he likes traditional pink damask one minute; oatmeal sweaters and plasticky holographic fabric the next; and pointy, strappy heels decorated with strips of spongy gray foam after that.

In his studio in Shacklewell Lane last week, Kane was discussing with his sister and deputy creative director, Tammy, how neither of them particularly felt like making statements about “a girl” this season, and how they were “just enjoying being spontaneous about choosing shapes and fabrics.” Kane’s interest in “blobs and jagged edges” was one of the things which had been floating to the top of his mind. The language he was using was far removed from the autobiographical insights into the Scottish Catholic high school upbringing he’s given recently.

There was nothing loosey-goosey about the execution, however. The damasks, which are by Gainsborough Silks, woven in England since 1903, and more often applied to furnishings, were graphically precision-cut into neat coats, skirts, and dresses. Shot taffeta in peacock blue became a roomy-shouldered New Wave coat and matching shirt, and several of the whooshing sunray-pleated skirts which have become a Kane signature. Improvising where his eye took him to, he picked up 3-D haberdashery sequinned flowers and dropped them on the patch-pockets of plain cotton drill A-line skirts and a beige raincoat, and scattered them on paillette-embroidered chiffon.

The effect—lots of variety here—was of an edgy glamour with an industrial aura about it. The spaceship prints have a story of their own. They proved to be reproductions of the work of the New York outsider artist Ionel Talpazan—a product of a kind of naive, obsessional futurism. Perhaps it was that which set Kane off on another idea for marketing which no designer has thought of before. A Christopher Kane handbag launch, coinciding with the show, literally launched a neon lemon clip-bag into space. The resulting video, one of the oddest and funniest fashion commercials ever, shows the Christopher Kane bag orbiting Earth before crashing into a field. Viewers can find the bag on the Christopher Kane website, where it, and other accessories from the show, lie in wait to buy now.

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