Christopher Kane Spring 2013 Ready-to-Wear Collection

by Alexander Patino

In contemporary fashion, there are few pleasures as satisfying as following Brit designer Christopher Kane from Point A to Point B. While his pieces are almost always certainly ‘pretty’, they happen to be interesting enough to be equally ‘lugubrious’. Though Kane works alongside Donatella Versace on ‘Versus’, he shares a deeper aesthetic affinity to Miuccia Prada, specifically in regards to how both carefully straddle the liminal boundaries of the beautiful and the off-putting. Consider Kane’s inspirations from recent seasons past. A year ago he looked to the melancholy world of female adolescence and boarding schools. The mood was so evocative of Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides” you could almost hear the Air soundtrack with the movement of those intricately folded cootie catcher skirts. There are few things as frightening as being a teenage girl, or so the countless parables about the horrors of female adolescence have led the world to believe, including Kane, who has made a statement worthy of the heavy notion.

Kane is a serious cinephile  too. While some designers look to the art world for inspiration (Jason Wu and Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier instantly come to mind), Kane penetrates the cultural prism through a film buff’s line of sight. His Fall inspiration was as esoteric and strange a source as one could imagine – William Friedkin’s “Cruising” (Al Pacino as an undercover cop in the gritty NYC gay scene on the hunt for a killer…say what? Come again?)

The horrors keep mounting in the Kane repertoire. Frankenstein’s monster has been the star through-line of a fashion show before (e.g. Rodarte F/W 2009) and Kane obviously had a blast with distilling mad beauty out of this material. The entire enterprise is so commercially sound. Boris Karloff’s iconic mug on tees will prove to be one of Spring’s most ubiquitous pieces. They may even end up being collector’s items. The plastic bolts used as closures on draped dresses and on white coats (these bolts made the latter look like lab utility coats, as if the bolts were placed there for easy access when fiddling in the laboratory). He opened the show with a white stamped cropped moto – the closure on the waist giving it a cool straight-jacket feel. If the strips of white medical tape slapped on top of one another in a column down a white top wasn’t spooky luxe enough, the Tesla coil footwear may just be the literal winning ticket.

But this wasn’t an all-out Frankenstein extravaganza. There was plenty of room for other macabre threads to creep into the line-up. Party dresses were constructed out of hundreds of plastic shower caps (here’s looking at you Janet Leigh), while perspex-like bow belts perched on waists with ghostly gravitas. The archaic shape of that snap belt makes the garments (including those using the bow as a print) appear distilled from an old clanky daguerreotype. Who knows what will be the reigning feature of this maddeningly inventive show. Maybe the Karloff tees, the plastic bolt dresses (one hell of a brilliant identifier), or the shower cap outfits, perhaps. But for our money, nothing felt as cool as the finale dress. Pink organza holding up strategic lace cut outs with black gaffe tape, that humble adhesive surrounded by encrustations of jewels. Why pick any other poison?