Dispatches from London: Christopher Kane

A world thrown upside down...

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A black trouser suit slit at the knees and elbows. Dresses splattered with car spray paint. PVC applied to neon silk. Bacterial blobs of primary colours. X-ray lace. Plastic pockets. Chaotic embroideries. Mustard snakeskin. Long silk fringes. Shards of fractured colour. Car crash dresses.

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‘Crash and repair’, the idea of creating something out of destruction, lay behind the making of this stream-of-consciousness collection. ‘With everything that has happened to us over the last few months, the car crash became the metaphor,’ explained Christopher Kane in his show notes. Christopher and his sister Tammy, with whom he closely works, were referring to their late mother who passed away only days before his last show in February.

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There is always a sense of autobiography about Kane’s collections, but this one, put together in the ‘tumultuous’ aftermath, was as fertile as it was fraught. There were so many ideas – there are always so many ideas at Christopher Kane – but these weren’t marshalled with his signature control, rather, they ran rampant. That was the point. They wanted us to see how their world had been thrown upside down and, rather than try to control the chaos, they were using it, going for it, letting it rip, creatively speaking.

 
Drawing on the influence of John Chamberlain’s car crash sculptures and the Scottish artist Scottie Wilson, the collection swerved from strict black tailoring sliced open and accessorised with plastic handcuffs, or ‘sutures’, around throats, wrists, bags – they even closed dresses where buttons might be. Spray-paint prints ran in tears down dresses. Colour was retinal-searing in places, pink, orange, yellow, blue for geometric dresses inlayed with jagged shards of plastic. Sweaters were stitched with random zigzags of yellow wool, and long fringing entered as an afterthought on slim black trousers, flaring from the seams of a skirt, swishing off a shoulder.
 
A pick'n'mix collection, all made beautifully, of course. The shoes – a criss-cross neon trainer with Kane’s signature safety-belt clasp, or a stiletto-heeled boot featuring squiggles of thread and a sole that looked as if it was dripping with paint – were ingenious. As were the bags in transparent PVC or punch-you-out coloured leathers.
 

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