Paint The World. Christopher Kane SS21

Similar to Victoria Beckham this season, Christopher Kane took the “less is more” path: less clothes and less looks result in a well-edited, meaningful line-up of truly intriguing garments. In Kane’s case, however, it’s been reverting to painting with multicolored glitter as he did as a kid that’s got him back to who he is. His flagship in Mount Street was turned into an exhibition space on the day of the collection’s presentation, filled with easels and canvases and imagined portraits of girls that he’d made obsessively during lockdown. Grouped around on mannequins were vibrant prints that made the jump from pictures to coats, dresses, shirts and t-shirts. Everything is painted – an idea that parallels with Katharina Grosse’s artistic practice, where she’s painting the world around her. “I haven’t painted for 14 years,” he said. “You know, in (the pace of) business, it’s chronic. At the beginning of lockdown, it took me a good month to say, I can’t sit here watching TV all day. I needed to do something. So I went out in the garden and just started painting, not caring whether what I was doing was crap or not. And then I started enjoying myself.” He made paintings of “brats – the girls I love, who’ve always inspired me,” gouaches of his nieces Bonnie and Tippi, and a more abstract impression in sage green sparkles of his sister Tammy. The idiosyncratic technique goes straight back to when he started making drawings in glitter pen of his mum at home in Newarthill, outside Glasgow, at the age of 14. Christine Kane encouraged both Christopher and Tammy, her youngest children, to be as creative as they liked at home. Instead of getting mad at them when their hours of painting and gluing on the sitting-room floor ended up ruining her best carpet, she just removed the carpet and let them get on with it. Going back to that feeling of making for making’s sake, without the pressure of thinking he was designing for any prescriptive outcome, was freeing. He began forming abstract shapes: “circles, voids, mouths” from whirling layers of acrylic paint and glitter. “Then I came up with a process of combing the paint. And then adding stripes. They became like my mindscapes.” In the end, having thought at first they didn’t want to make anything at all, Kane and his sister began transferring some of the work onto duchesse satin, Tyvek, and cotton, and a small summer collection began to take shape. Out of the big pause came something humming with energy, revealing a side to Christopher Kane’s creativity he might never have had time to rediscover and which he’d probably never have shared. As one of the restarts of the season, it felt intensely personal – something speculative, self-reliant, and not meant for endless reproduction. And most of all: “from now on,” said his sister, “we’re streamlining, editing before we decide to put something out into the world.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Stripped-Back. Christopher Kane Pre-Fall 2020

For pre-fall 2020 – which got launched on-line in the middle of corona – Christopher Kane was thinking about making “a stripped-back collection,” a line-up addressing his label’s most distinct codes: “sharp tailoring, flounces, bell skirts, and chain mail”, as he told Vogue Runway. Although the process of designing the collection took place well before the pandemic broke in Europe, it has a concept that might really work well business-wise for other brands in the future. A well-edited pack of looks that clearly states what the brand is all about (in case of Kane: an intelligent, at times quirky, take on sexuality), a serve of few bold silhouettes that will actually sell (love the flared midi-skirts in electric red), something fun (the Naturotica t-shirts!) and in general, items that feel relevant and… desirable.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Sex Cult. Christopher Kane AW20

Sex, subversion, fashion – Christopher Kane always works within these three points. “And this season it became all about triangles—I don’t know why,” he exclaimed backstage of his autumn-winter 2020 show. “But it started with us looking at triangle bras, saucy underwear, and went from there.” Christopher, his siter Tammy, and their design studio play instinctively with shapes and forms, see what interests them, and then they make their magic. Next thing, Kane said, he discovered that “the triangle is the most powerful, strongest shape in nature. And all of a sudden—this was after we’d designed everything—the eye of God came into it.” The triangular Christian Eye of Providence symbol was superimposed over a image of the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden on the season’s t-shirt. All that religious disapproval of sex is exactly what makes it illicit and exciting. It’s the idea behind the viral status of Kane’s More Joy brand (which sells bedroom stuff like silk pajamas and vibrators), as well as the erotics visible on the runway. Party dresses, sheer knitwear smothered in paillettes, harnesses with jewels and bulbous plastic. Sexuality read between the lines.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.