Christopher Kane revels in pushing our taste levels to places we never thought they'd go, delving into the bizarre and allowing unnatural sources of inspiration to couple together wantonly. Elvira and Lady Jane Grey anyone? How about Sissy Spacek and Crocodile Dundee?
This season, Christopher and his sister Tammy alighted on the royal family - namely Princess Margaret Rose and Queen Elizabeth circa 1965. Thinking about Hartnell pleated frocks and neat, boxy suits in bright crowd-pleasing colours evidently stirred the Kanes' brains, as did swatches of neon lace, traditional Scottish argyles and Japanese patterns. That was the mash-up we saw on the catwalk for S/S 2011. As ever, it was a focused and single-minded showing, trotting out variation after variation on those inspirations. Colour vibrated - highlighter-marker shades of fluoro green, pink, yellow and orange, slashed with graphic pleats like go-faster stripes. The lace slid from fresh chantilly to doilly-style cut-out leather to cord-embroidered excess, then gave way to Japanese tattoo prints spliced with more neon (the best flashing on the underside of pleats in sunray-burst skirts). The shapes were easy Sixties sheaths, collarless cardigan jackets slung loosely over shoulders, sometimes twinned with a natty argyle knit in a contrast shade of sludge brown or dirty pink, to counteract all that neon.
Very nice, very coherent, very polished. But, for Kane, it all felt a little too literal. Those earlier clashes of inspiration were exhilarating because they were so digested, masticated and spat-out in a wholly reconfigured form. Today, it was easy to trace the lines of thought behind Kane's clothing - almost too easy. It also felt as if he was attempting, perhaps, to jolt a little too greatly against received good taste. That's his shtick, granted - and it's made Kane the Golden Boy of London Fashion. This time, one couldn't help but get a feeling of Emperor's New Clothes about proceedings, of a crowd seeing what they want to see rather than what's actually in front of their eyes. Sometimes so bad it's good can end up just looking bad.