Where do you draw the line with bad taste? It's a question that's often asked after a Christopher Kane show. What exactly allows a garment to cross that invisible, decisively divisible line between must-have and most-hated, what flicks our collective aesthetic switch to make the easy no into the difficult yes?
Christopher and Tammy Kane have contributed more than their fair share of those switch-flickers over the past four years (can you believe it has been barely half-a-decade since these Scots exploded onto the scene to re-ignite London's creative fire?). Today's collection, however, was a difficult sell - maybe the most difficult Kane has ever offered. A dissection of the parts as always yields relatively little - Kane pieced together oversized afghan blankets in sludgy, desaturated shades of navy blue and slime-green, printing the deceptive device across a leather tabard for good measure. That was daywear out of the way, signalling a volte-face into Kane's main decorative motif, an undulating strip of plastic like giant PVC rick-rack braid meandering its way across hems, necklines and pockets. I've tried to think of more poetic ways to describe it, but it's impossible - essentially, it resembled a cross between a melted ice-pop and a lava lamp, filled with a viscous goo that bubbled oilily about the models' extremities.
Attractive? No. Not at all. Kane said he wanted something 'toxic, caustic, and slightly venomous.' Did that translate through to the clothes? In a sense, yes - the idea of purposefully ugly clothing is, after all, a foundation of postmodern fashion (Kane's closest compatriot is Miuccia Prada, who plays these kind of twisted mind-games season after season). There was a touch of the seventies via the nineties to this offering - maybe Kane just about remember's Todd Oldham's stint on MTV's 'House of Style' - there was certainly more than a whisper of Oldham's traversing of the boundaries of taste, although it seemed more coincidental than referential.
The eternal question: did I actually like it? Maybe the easy no this time is just a simple no. There was something unfinished about this idea, something stuck-on. Those plastic curves felt barely-integrated into the garments, at times they bordered on the comedic. The clothes themselves were nothing special, straightforward tubular shifts abandoning the waist and falling to the knee, predominantly in black, some with lilac sequins. I feel as if I have fallen into that old journalistic trap of description rather than analysis, but I'm not entirely sure what there is to analyse - or rather over-analyse. Sometimes the emperor is naked, even at Christopher Kane.