Somewhere in the beginning of the year, Christopher Kane quietly got himself a website. There’s a bio and a contact page – yesss, you go Kane, with your crazy web antics. Ok so it’s a bit sparse but it’s certainly a step up from being one of the most un-Google-able designers of our generation. The website is primarily a showcase and a nudge to go to the store which opened its doors on Mount Street just before London Fashion Week.
If ever you needed physical affirmation that Christopher Kane had stepped it up with the help of Kering to get to that holy grail stage of becoming a bone fide BRAND, look no further than this lush bit of bricks and mortar feted by a dinner and party on Tuesday (even with a dinner table setting, Kane manages to somehow elevate the ordinary as he projected the table with digital pixels). There are only a few of his London peers that have reached this stage – and thankfully the likes of Roksanda Ilincic and Nicholas Kirkwood happen to be neighbours – but then again in terms of aesthetic, Kane has always been admittedly peerless as he ricochets from one idea to another, making you want something you didn’t think you even know you wanted.
Over the past few seasons though, Kane has been maybe more exacting and focused with his haphazard ideas and that has translated to the store, designed by minimalist designer John Pawson’s store fit out, with a warmth exuding from the expanses of off-white surfaces, with pops of colour highlighted in the neon-tinted acrylic blocks. These are physical reminders of Kane’s explosive beginnings in fashion, synthesised into the store. Knowing Kane’s oeuvre, you might think he would have gone all out – NEON, Loud, BRIGHT! Mayfair isn’t the appropriate retail postcode to go wild though and instead Pawson has cleverly created a subtly contrasting backdrop for Kane’s clothes to pop. From the outside of this Edwardian storefront, you can glimpse in and currently see Kane’s burgandy and periwinkle blue hues popping out from the long rail running down the side of the store. Downstairs, his resort collection, full of delectable neon florals is hanging pretty, framed by a circular mirror fixture as well as a spectacular cylindrical light sabre-esque chandelier that connects the basement with the ground floor. When you first head in, you’re hit by a wall of bags, showcased on those neon acrylic plinths – they’re a solid reminder of how far Kane has come as he approaches hitting ten years in the business – and also another sign that Christopher Kane as a brand has hit new heights. Those buckled bags have already inspired a host of high street copies, which perhaps Kane can take as something of a compliment.
It was easy to see the parallels between the precise nature of the store and Kane’s latest A/W 15-6 collection. Like the neon plinths catching your eye every so often, Kane’s design DNA also runs through the collection as little electric reminders of Kane’s past hits – the velvet, the lace, the zig-zagging, the ruffles, the buckles, the bandaging. And “DNA” and “electric” happen to be key words for a collection inspired by the rules of attraction between two people. Kane funnelled his CK-isms through a more sensual eye. The intention wasn’t to be overtly sexy but instead, a slow game of the art of seduction played out in the textures and details. There was the two-tone velvet hint and glinting at you with come-hither looks. Rounded silhouettes of women gave you sideways glances on skirts. Ruffles were deliberately exaggerated to look like directional bedroom peignoirs. The safety buckles carried over from the bags were ready to be unclasped on dresses and Le Smoking-esque jackets. Chevron zig zags were representative of the electric jolts felt between two people attracted to one another. Hard croc is softened up as a pattern on printed velvet. Kane’s collections often cry to be touched because of their unusual textures but this one tapped into a more direct primal consumer-based desire – “I want that dress!” “I have to have that bag!” – the sort of desire that his store will be fuelling. Speaking of which, the bags also grew in repertoire as they came festooned with ruffles and rounded spherical corners, inspired by molecular structures that spark off sexual attraction and incidentally, because the models were walking so that the bags faced me, the accessories seemed to grab me more.
The most memorable motif of the collection of course was Kane’s ‘Lover’s Lace’ – created by a group life drawing session undertaken by his design team. It was one of those stellar Only-Kane-Could-Have-Done-It kind of design feature, as he cleverly combined menage a trois interlocking lace cut-out bodies and moulded them around the real body. They’re crying for a reprisal in future Kane resort collections much like the trickle downs of his now-recognisable design language.
I know I’ve called this post “Love to Love you Baby”. Donna Summer’s track didn’t play on the soundtrack (Kane opted for a more unknown rework of Gloria Ann Taylor’s Deep Inside You and Andrea True Connection’s More More More just to leave the audience bouncing) but the title of her song is certainly a sentiment that I feel about Kane’s work. Now that it hangs on physical rails within a proper store, it’s all properly offish that Kane has elevated to another level. In a Dezeen article, Pawson hinted that he might be working on other stores for Kane. Other stores? Guess this is just the very beginning…