S/S 16 was both collective redux and confident step forward. Christopher Kane curated his own past, within the context of the future. He not only offered his take on the now and next, he offered customers, buyers and stylists the chance to reengage with collections from the near past.
The first few exits were so uncompromising in vision that it took a few seconds for our eyes to adjust. That’s a good sign. Real newness always take a while to land. The first exit was a suit jacket with cut out elbows; it was as if the model had taken a tumble in the playground. Spray paint pulses of colour covered dresses and skirts, and reminded one of blowing paint bubbles through straws. A sleeveless white Perfecto was covered in a print effect that called to mind that joyous moment when you open up a folded piece of paper and see how the paint inside has printed to create a mirrored effect. This was the childlike spontaneity - the naivety upon which Kane has somehow built ongoing sophisticated codes. He is one designer who crafts infantile reference points into coveted grown up pieces. This season, he will debut his first collection of Christopher Kane eyewear, inspired by children’s NHS glasses.
So many regret not buying one of those gel-filled PVC clutches, from A/W 11. In the same vein, my heart still skips a beat over a cool back-to-school pencil case, and these bags were based on the coolest. This season’s transparent vinyl bags were for the women who loved those hits of 2011 – and for those new insta-fans coming though who enjoy punchy, regram-worthy fashion. An evolved version of his neon lace from S/S 11 was also here, this time reconfigured into multi-coloured patch worked dresses and skirts. Kane is building memories within his work, and for a label this young, it is brand building magic.
Those lines that traced kissing profiles within his A/W 15 collection re-emerged as unruly doilies, which cradled the form. Models wore black skirts with wavy stitches and wobbly hemlines. They looked liked like Flamencos in a playpen, ready to stamp out a temper tantrum at any time. Fringing bled from the frame like paint running into empty space – and made way for this season’s must have trouser. Graphic colour blocking looked like dragonfly wings made of bunting. Appliqued on dresses, it created a strong closing section.
Throughout the collection, the clothes often looked not only dissembled – but quite frankly, left falling apart. This was a decon/recon approach to construction, that felt particularly ejected with rebellious abandon. The straws in the hair, the (absolutely incredible) scribble 3D knits and the apron approach to design – where skirts and jumpers were left open at the side or back - suggested that this was all being held together somewhat. Kane said he's been much inspired by the car crash sculptures of John Chamberlain. Mourning the death of his recently passed mother, and Louise Wilson, Kane has responded to flux with flux. But like other heartfelt collections from this season in London, from designers such as Sibling and Gareth Pugh, a loss and coming home can sometimes feel the same. Kane’s work needed to go home for a season, and it was all the better for it.