If you haven't come across Christopher Kane yet, I'll shed a little light on a man touted as one of the most influential and avant-garde new-comers in the world of fashion and design!
Christopher Kane was born in Glasgow and graduated at Central Saint Martins with a distinction and an MA in womenswear. In 2005 he won the Lancôme Colour Award and then the Harrods Design Award. Swiftly after, Donatella Versace whisked him off to work on the Atelier couture collection in Paris. In 2006, Kane became "Young Designer of the Year" at the Scottish Fashion Awards and in September of that year, his first independent show saw an explosion of electric neon colours in the form of fitted body-con dresses. Kane said: "I wanted to go as bright as possible" - definitely a good move, as the collection immediately grabbed the fashion public's attention and sparked a fluoro obsession in the Summer to follow. Kane's designs were adorned with boudoir frills, sheer panelling, mesh, lace, zips and brass rings and the colour combinations were extraordinary - it's not every day that a designer can put together red and pink, lime green and beige and royal blue and peach or black without creating a fashion abomination and serious 'faux-pas'!
2006 was the year of the creation of the CHRISTOPHER KANE for TOPSHOP first capsule collection, which drew inspiration and carried forward themes from his catwalk collection. This collection was what first brought Kane to my attention and I've been a fan ever since!
In February 2007, Kane exhibited his second collection, which saw an introduction of soft and sumptuous velvets (which rather remind me Rembrandt & Van Dyck paintings) and leather (think Rambo or Elvira, princess of the dark.) According to Kane, the gun metal with the burnt orange was inspired by the colours in the battle scenes of 'Braveheart'. The embellishment Kane has become famous for also appears strongly in this show.
Kane's third collection of September 2007 was characterised by snake skin printed chiffon and stonewashed denim, apparently inspired by the horror films "Carrie" and "Crocodile Dundee". The silhouettes moved away from Kane's previous flirtation with body-con and fitted designs, giving rise to an array of loose, floaty, romantic forms that caused a stir amongst the public.
February 2008 was the month of Kane's fourth collection, which also shifted away from themes from past collections; layered organza, cable knit cashmere, embellished jackets, plastic circular sequins, sheer fabrics and subtle layering.
In September 2008, Kane exhibited his fifth collection, inspired by "Planet of the apes" and "The flintstones": leopard print, sequins, scalloping, structured and architectural, this collection was a commercial winner and sold out within 24 hours of hitting Net-a-porter.com on Febuary 13th 2009!
February 2009 marked Kane's sixth collection, lauded as another knock-out! Nude chiffon, tailored jackets, layered hemlines, appliqué organza scalloped dresses, geometrical & stripe patterning (apparently inspired by the lines on a blank TV screen!) and a more sombre palette contributed to this collection's appeal and was called out as being a more "mature offering".
Finally, we are brought to 2010 (Kane's 'pre-collection'). Kane stated: "I wanted something natural, but I'm so fed up with florals and then I came across these images of nuclear test explosions from the fifties to the seventies on the Internet. I like the crazy-bright chemical colours. The way they're sinister but beautiful." It's interesting that Kane uses the word 'natural' for this collection, given that the images printed on the majority of this collection's dresses depict mushroom-clouds of nuclear explosions (images sourced from free public-access photos on the U.K. Ministry of Defense Web site)! However, that said, the 'natural' quality of the collection is found in the innocent charm of the cut-out baby doll and t-shirt style dresses. What gives the collection such impact and shock-value is the stark contrast of the innocence of the clothing designs with the nature of the images printed on them. Kane even updates his sheer body with shrapnel style embellishment! (See picture - right)
Kane's Spring collection channels what Kane calls the "twisted sister" - the twee innocence of gingham, checks, pleats, white rose-beaded embellishment, pastel pinks and blues juxtaposed with thigh-split skirts, crop tops, bra cup detailing and nude, sheer panelling, which adds a 'sex factor' (and takes us away from any 'Little house on the prairie' parallels!). Apparently inspired by the Jonestown mass suicides in Guyana in 1978, Kane says "religious cultism" was a strong theme for the collection, as well as Nancy Reagan and the movie 'Lolita'.
Certainly not a 'one trick pony', Kane continues to surprise and challenge our perceptions of fashion. Even though I have already purchased items from Kane's past topshop collections and the white gem tee and mirror embellished mesh dress from the Autumn/Winter Topshop 09 capsule collection, I just can't wait to see what Kane next has in store!
Finally, I leave you with Christopher Kane's explanation of who the 'Christopher Kane woman' of his work is:
"I hope my customer is of all ages. I really have no preference, but a good personality helps, and someone who obviously loves fashion and having fun, not taking herself too seriously. She's strong, independent and very confident, I think my clothes appeal to people who want to really feel special and stand out from the crowd when at a party or in the street. I like that people can identify my clothes straight away - it's a huge compliment when that happens." - Christopher Kane.
(With thanks to style.com for the images)