Christopher Kane is the master of twisting the banal. He finds beauty in the normal and opportunities for provocation in the everyday. Kane is also a grafter. He's a designer's designer - all about cut and make and originality. There’s a fad at the moment for designers dubbing themselves 'curators'. Perhaps that’s the only way to operate now what with the relentless cycle of shows - maybe designers only have time to quick fire off yes's and no's until they’ve assembled something they find palatable. Not Kane. He likes to push and push his own brain until he’s found newness, rather than collage from others to create something with the veneer of modernity.
He brought these two aspects of his character together for A/W 17 - reconciling his respect for hard work, through a nod to the female factory worker, with that passion for the commonplace or banal, via references to their practical, reliable uniforms. Kane twists and dissects his references meticulously enough to avoid any accusations of poverty porn or appropriation. Is it awkward to see a woman wearing pricey shiny stilettos decorated with the foam used to pack boxes or clean surfaces in factories? Sure. But that’s the point. Kane plays with our own desires, stereotypes and references, questioning why we see things the way we do. That skill for subtly undermining common thoughts or ideas is what gives his items the air of something you didn’t know you wanted until you saw it. There was plenty of that on show today - deliberately off-key pastels suggested the ubiquitous paint tones in corporate offices and public spaces, while bags featured layering details that inferred those blue plastic shoe covers one puts on when walking on a new floor or entering a building site. The idea of the factory had sparked Kane in other ways too - he’d been hard at work at the drawing board, dreaming big. A sense of future technologies, and the potentials and possibilities of making, were reflected in the holographic foiled lace and clever taffetas suggesting techno-fabrics.
This collection encompassed all the dualities that Kane has mastered - sexy, but sick. Naive, yet knowing. Modern, yet nostalgic. Aspirational, but touching. Maybe that reference to female factory workers was purely aesthetic, but one couldn’t help but think of the women’s march and of the importance of female workers far and wide. Who better to inspire a collection than them? And who better to pay them such a heartfelt tribute?