Christopher Kane showed a landmark collection in Canon Place, in the heart of the City this afternoon. It was a milestone in Kane’s career and a revolutionary moment for British fashion.
It was also monumentally good timing: following rumours which surfaced in November 2012, luxury conglomerate PPR acquired a 51 per cent stake in the Christopher Kane label on 15 January this year. The French power corporation, whose other brands include Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent and Gucci, said it aimed to ‘provide the support the label needs to grow to the next level’.
This was evidenced today in a collection that wasn’t one collection, but five collections that were seamlessly rolled into one – seen on the world’s most beautiful (and expensive) models, all underwritten by PPR. As the actress Salma Hayek told Kane backstage: ‘They were so proud to wear your clothes.’ She said this clutching her husband’s arm, Francois-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of PPR, who couldn’t have looked more pleased with his latest acquisition.
You might imagine that a designer with this kind of pressure piled on his young shoulders – he turned 30 last year - might crumble under the pressure. Not Kane.
His first chapter was in camouflage – big coats with buckles, mini kilts, ribbed Scottish cashmere, cute sexy dresses, bomber jackets trimmed in golden fox – not a million miles off the work he once produced for Donatella Versace’s Versus line. The ice-blonde glamazon was in the front row and also came backstage to give Kane a squeeze.
On to the next chapter and velvet dresses with gauntlet sleeves whose open-seams of black hooks, criss-crossing the body, exposed bare skin beneath. Some models resembled warrior women with extraordinary silver-coil collars around their necks. In his third chapter he worked feathers into the seams of sturdy coats and on the edge of collars and pleats of skirts – one of many classy reinventions of a classic luxury staple – the feathers then transformed into flowers, painstakingly embroidered onto the finest black lace, they looked as if they’d been somehow crafted in paper.
As the collection(s) built, in complexity and inventiveness, the atmosphere crackled with electricity, just as his fifth and final chapter marched out: a pair of black trousers worn with a t-shirt printed with a multi-coloured image of an MRI scan of a brain – that’s right, a brain – followed by ‘electric shock’ dresses, seemingly fabricated from fine black wires and copper circuit board coils.
‘It all started with an MRI scan of a healthy brain,’ he said backstage, ‘So the camouflage patterns, things playing with your eye, and then the explosions at the end were in the brain,’ he tried to explain, but really, how to explain creations that defy even description?
But why an MRI scan, hollered journalists, as ever eager to understand the inner workings of Britain’s foremost fashion super-talent. Kane just laughed: ‘The brain works in mysterious ways.’
Today Christopher Kane even surpassed himself: a literal brainstorm of ideas and immaculate execution. Bravo.