london fashion week: christopher kane
(images via vogue)
oh. like, sigh. oh, children. here we are. another day, another christopher kane show. now, then. as soon as i saw the designer’s latest work at london fashion week, for s/s 2013, i knew it was going to be a big hit with the critics. sometimes i wonder if mr. kane is another coming of marc jacobs, for all my musings at that designer’s recent show feel pretty much just as appropriate here. and i think you know that over the seasons (see a/w 2010, s/s 2011, a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, resort 2013) i’ve never been as in love with mr. kane’s work, though i have had my positive input now and again. but does it even matter, an actual reflection, when it sometimes feels that the inevitable is a gush-fest? (that’s a real question, by the by.)
and so i hesitate to offer my real opinion, to delve into some kind of examination of mr. kane’s work. if i knew it were to be received with open minds, if i knew, for example, that when i argued critics and fashionies seem to glom on to his collections largely because they, through a high fashion medium, seem to give them the permission they so clearly lust for, desire, to revisit their teen years, to dress ever younger, cuter (after all, it seems to be an opinion of a good many fashionettes that if they simply dress younger, we’ll believe they are younger)…but then again, maybe i’m missing the point, and the man is a true genius.
i suppose we can’t yet make that judgement call, at least from this nearby place in history. maybe later generations will be able to see it more clearly, by the manner in which one watching a contemporary film set at an earlier time thinks things look factually appropriate…but a generation or two later, whilst re-watching, suddenly realizes there were so many elements that give away the time period it was actually made (that, after all, in the moment, seemed so ‘right’ no one stopped to consider that, they too, were giving away elements of their own time stamp).
but i digress, and anyway, i’ll just give you what the critics say. if it’s what you want, you’ll be happy, and if not, know that the current show, all things considered (and a beautiful yellow dress on magda laguinge, top, aside), has my skepticism as well. maybe i’m just not smart enough to get it. but really and truly, i, like, don’t. but! but! if you’re waiting for the richness, you needn’t hold off any longer: in-between fielding, presumably, queries on how they’d back up their opinion, us vogue managed to pull off a good one, by at once declaring mr. kane, effectively, a “genius,” while with some slippery footwork essentially telling us that, because it’s all so complex, they really wouldn’t have to qualify their statements to us at all.
yeah, that’s rich, no? thus, i suppose we oughtn’t waste any more time on it. but on the other hand, in a more descriptive review, the chicago tribune weighed in that “Kane’s looks varied from boxy white jackets, candy-colored pleated dresses held together with nuts and bolts, and tailored dresses…embellished with bows, detailed beading and masking tape. The designer revamped his trademark bandage dress using plastic ruffles and nipped-in waists, added floaty skirts to draped dresses and kept accessories minimal, with models wearing matching shoes in neutral shades, detailed with spikes, spirals, nuts and bolts.”
“Perspex Frankenstein (who featured on a print tee) nuts and bolts provided heavy-duty fastenings,” noted grazia, “while taping added a protest-chic feel to the collection. By cross-hatching bejewelled, lace dresses with tape, we saw Kane attempting to literally cancel out the picture perfect prettiness. There was a sense that Kane’s girl, like her dresses, was broken and needed taping up – hinting at a fragility far beyond her fashion taste. Material innovation as always was central to Kane’s collection – we had rose embossed motocross jackets, wide woven tops with matching skirts and plastic ruffles adding to the artificial tenor of the line.”
elsewhere, style gushed that “Kane’s scarcely average, of course, and it’s highly unlikely he imagined himself down in the lab making fashion monsters. But he certainly revels in unlikely ingredients..Some of the propositions felt like an upmarket evolution of ideas Kane visited in his resort collection. The safety belt closings, for instance, here reconfigured as bowed belts that snapped shut. The gaffer tape could have been a re-definition of the earlier collection’s splashes of punk. Kane’s own description of his palette was ‘colors that make you feel a bit sick.’ He’s super-self-aware like that, and gleefully fearless with it. As beautiful and sophisticated as the clothes he showed today were, he’s happy to drop a tragic, misbegotten monster into the mix. That dichotomy is where his enchantment lies.”
however, i was happy to read that, if they didn’t really come down particularly strongly on either side, at least wwd remained a bit removed: “bolts and wing nuts in transparent acrylic were the signature detail of this offbeat collection. They clamped the shoulder straps of ladylike luncheon suits, pierced the bows festooning the front of a cocktail dress and anchored the slits on a narrow skirt. In a similar DIY vein, bits of lace and beading were pasted onto silk gazar coats and dresses with glossy black electrical tape. Purely experimental, too, were rubbery bows pieced together into clunky cardigan jackets or narrow skirts.”
but elle was back to drooling, writing that “(e)very outfit fastened with large transparent Lucite bolts, more like modern architectural couture than Frankenstein. Then he worked in the pink, folded and draped like tumbling ribbon or densely packed in plastic ruffles…The two finale dresses in translucent silk might have been saccharine sweet if it hadn’t been for the ‘childish’ creative play back in the studio involving shiny strips of black Thermo tape that gave a pleasing nod to Kane’s inner punk. This collection, as inspired as it was grown up, as confident as it was beautiful, put Kane on a level with the best.”
yet so too did the telegraph seem a little cool: “The show lurched into life with opening looks of white rose relief biker jackets with electric-blanket grids at the shoulders, later repeated in black. There was the occasional veer towards the borderline conventional - a fitted slatey dress was decorated by three small-to-big bows down the thorax - but mostly Kane revelled in his mad-scientist scheming. Injection-moulded rubber was used to make acid-green and pink meshes in a tied-lace relief that gave flexible volume to dresses and separates. Treated organza was woven Bottega Veneta-ishly into paper-delicate three-pieces, and pretty lace-like detailing was roughened up with gaffer-tapish, bodge-job add-ons.”
finally, though, uk vogue was back on the impassioned side, declaring “that’s what Kane does so well: takes the unexpected and make it desirable in a way you never thought you could have imagined - which is where that black masking tape steps in. On pretty pink day dresses (that would have been just that had Kane not come along), it came amid jewels and lace appliqué - here was something so pretty being given a good old dose of casual reality and it really worked. There’s no doubting Kane and what he can come up with next - it’s a constant surprise and always clever, which is the nuts and bolts, really, of a great designer.” is he? i’ll let you decide for yourselves. but remember this: just because the fashion critics say it, doesn’t make it so. as i said during the marc jacobs show, remember the tale of the emperor’s new clothes.
(check out the collection video here)