Above: Christopher Kane, spring/summer 2015. Photos: Getty Images
Christopher Kane dedicated his collection to the late Central Saint Martins MA professor, Louise Wilson. And the results were exceptional, even by Kane’s remarkable standards. But if anyone could inspire Kane to this level of boundary breaking creativity, it would have to be Louise Wilson, first his teacher, then friend and mentor. As he put it: ‘Because of those 18 months on the MA, because of meeting and being taught by Louise, I am where I am today.’ Wilson herself would have said otherwise, of course; that it is Kane’s innate talent and hard work that has made him the leader of his generation and earned him a place within the luxury goods group Kering alongside Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney.
But if ever a show was going to be both startlingly good and raw with emotion, this was it.
‘Soon after Louise died, we found a box of photos dating back to my time on the MA at Saint Martins,’ he explained in his show notes. ‘There were pictures of me in Louise’s office, of Tammy [Kane’s sister and co-collaborator] trying on clothes I was making in my bedroom… Finding those pictures from the MA, this collection was meant to happen.’
He decided to revisit those ideas that had never been shown. They featured coils, cord and rope – and these became the insignia on his collection – from the cord belts that defined waists on silk jackets, to the knots of fine rope embroidered on a fragile vest and the swirling ropes of matchstick beads that embellished tulle dresses. Those early designs also inspired what he called ‘controlled explosion’ – dresses and jackets with precisely placed cones of fabric through which tulle erupted, undulating at the waist of a crisp burgundy jacket or shooting out of the hip of a neat cream shift. Other dresses featured panels of tulle that cascading down the front like long hair, tethered with elegant metal clips.
Anyone who has watched Kane from the beginning, knows that his collections always ferment with a gazillion ideas and that somehow he marshals them all into precise and cohesive order. But this collection was so extremely disciplined that even his cool girl (school girl?) in colours that recalled his own school uniform at Motherwell’s Taylor High looked all polished and grown up. This was the season that Kane’s sophisticated woman emerged – a progression that Louise Wilson would have, no doubt, been proud of.