“I’ve always been obsessed with human behaviour and sex — whether that’s the biology of it, or the actual physical act of it. I based this collection on the joy of sex, but I did it in a beautiful, provocative, sensual way.”
Christopher Kane has always based his collections around the grittier aspects of the human condition. Bondage, ageing, decay and the nude have all informed his collections in recent years. Why should this be any different?
In this climate, it takes a brave soul to take on the subject with a strong point of view. Had he had second thoughts at all about addressing female sexuality so full-heartedly in this current climate of #Metoo, where the topic of gender equality and the act of sex itself has become so inflamed? “Not at all,” he said. “I can’t change my creative process. And my work is based in my fascination with reality.”
The themes of bondage, nudity and perversity were writ large on this collection, albeit in a delicate way. Christopher F Foss, who illustrated the original edition of 1972 blockbuster manual The Joy of Sex, had lent many of those line drawings to the designer, who, in turn, put them on a series of dresses, flesh-coloured silks with lace trims and words taken from the manual’s text. And there were bondage leathers, and “cage” dresses, all lined in crystal diamanté, designed to push one’s more subversive buttons.
But this was no 50 shades of Kane. The designer’s obsessions may be rooted in the human experience, but this was a very elevated expression of what might be considered bad taste.
Some of it was surprisingly wearable as well. A gorgeous trench with a leather tie-front opened the collection. Sparkly sweater dresses were sprinkled throughout. There was some great suiting and a couple of knockout evening dresses. I also loved the lace bodysuits, though I might stick a few layers on top.
Christopher Kane currently sits under the “other luxury” band of brands in the Kering group, which reported consolidated revenues of €15.478bn, up 27.2 per cent on a comparable basis, last week. The “others” were up 14 per cent, largely thanks to Balenciaga’s scorching success.
Christopher Kane has failed to see the same steaming growth as other houses in the stable, even despite the introduction of categories like handbags and shoes. Thankfully, the obsession with codifying the Kane brand has relaxed. Kane’s former chief executive Sarah Crook was very keen to consolidate the brand “voice” by pushing a few Kane key codes — safety-belt buckles, a branded logo, fluoro laces. Under Nikolas Talonpoika, Kane has been able to explore a few more styles and accessories. The collection felt freer, less shouty, and, despite its naked ambitions, at times it looked really quite demure.
The shoes, meanwhile, were customarily interesting. A crystal-strewn court shoe, a sharp kitten-heel boot. And, because I suspect that designers now compete as to who might offer the maddest catwalk shoe, this season’s strangest footwear so far. In conjunction with Z-Coil, Kane had developed a new orthopaedic shoe, an outrageous bit of rubber footwear, studded with crystal and set with a low-sprung heel. “They’re really good for your back,” said Kane backstage.
A fashion shoe that might actually improve your posture? Now, that really is perverse.
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