Christopher Kane is the kind of wonderchild that usually burns out before his time. In college, he was already designing accessories for Versace.
But Kane was the name on everyone’s lips and labels at a Downing Street reception last Friday night. His geometric velvet and sheer designs were worn by five different attendees. Kane is already a household name in the UK after designing several stunning and versatile lines for Top Shop. 2010 could prove to be a breakout year for Kane’s sense of art-school elegance.
This Glasgow-born designer seems to have a love affair with post-war America, as though he grew up watching a lot of BBC, or read old issues of LIFE magazine.
This look seems nostalgic for the worn gingham of a picnic blanket one might see on a late night BBC rerun of the Brady Bunch. The sun-bleached windowpane fabrics remind you of the faded catalogue newsprint used to wrap a set of forgotten dishes in your aunt’s attic.
Here Kane brings a dour sophistication to the disruptively childish wardrobe of a forgotten era. "I saw a documentary about the Jonestown mass suicides in Guyana in 1978, so I started thinking about religious cultism," he said. "But that only happened at the end. I was also looking at a photo of Nancy Reagan on the White House lawn, and the movie Lolita."
Part of the fun is watching Kane push the boundaries of his materials. Here he bends the geometry of a fairly straight and narrow woven fabric and breathes life into a simple pleat by matching it with a embroidered flower.
Notice how the same technique in the cut of the skirt in this blue frock dress gives the same life to an otherwise theoretical design. Anyone with a notebook and a pencil can design a dress worth sewing, but a fully realized Christopher Kane 2010 design is more than the sum of its stitching.
His interest in Lolita doesn’t just inform his stylist’s attitude, it’s also a more aesthetic interest – a nostalgia for a televised nation that perhaps never happened – that sustains the collection. "I loved Jeremy Irons’ tailored vest in the remake,” he said. “So that’s where the suiting came from."
After the show, an exhausted Kane returned home and almost burned his house down. "I was knackered when we got back to the flat so I went to bed. My boyfriend put a pizza in the oven, because we were all starving, but then he fell asleep too. I woke up and thought, ‘Why can I smell burning pastry?’ It was the pizza and there was smoke everywhere. It’s okay now but I still haven’t eaten. I’m starving.’”
We were just as worn out after watching the collection…
Images courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.