Christopher Kane's breakthrough success is aging nicely. Whereas most stars that rise as fast as his has burn and fade before you get to see them shine, his light is growing brighter, stronger, and even more brilliant over time. He's the kind of designer that the fashion world needs to sustain itself. He's like vitamins for an ailing industry. His ideas are remarkably fresh and reach that apex of design where they function both formally and aesthetically. His work looks great, whether or not you pick up on the nuanced complexities of its back story. That's the rubric of success that so many designers work so hard to achieve and miss. Yet Kane, just a few years out of Central Saint Martins, seems to be doing it again, and again, and again in such different ways with each collection. His bright ideas are making lagging followers of his contemporaries. As a fashion fan it's amazing to watch him push the game.
Looks from Kayne's ultra-successful Spring 2009 collection.
Explosive prints of nuclear fallout from the Resort 2010 collection.
His craft is slick and skilled. His seams belie simplicity, when actually the construction of his garments is a complex affair. Materials, images, shapes, and stitches are as pretty as they are subversive. His latest collection may not be quite as obvious in its rebellion as the shift dresses printed with color saturated images of nuclear explosions he showed in his recent resort collection, but it is still a feat of contradiction. Light, airy, sheer, and innocent looking, the dresses and separates are woven around a sickeningly sweet tale; the Jonestown cult that was fatally lured into drinking cyanide laced kool-aid by their zealot leader with touches of additional inspiration from various repressive religions.
That's quite a starting point for such a pretty collection of gauzy, gingham prints. Whether or not you choose to explore the deeper waters of the presentation, Kane's mix of conservative, high necklines and patches of revealed skin speaks to the tension of cult-like religions. Covered up to avert any thought of sex, yet inviting it full-on in the face of the denial of its existence. It's like this: Do not think of sex, do not think of sex, do NOT think of sex. What are you thinking of? Sex.
Kane's catwalk brilliantly featured model-actress Jenny Shimizu, left, an icon of subversive sexuality.
The corset tops and tight construction are a marvel of craftsmanship, yet unlike so many designers with an equal skillset, the clothes of Kane are quite wearable, sellable, likable even. And still so devious. They bubble under with ideas for those who are looking, and bubble over with pretty for those who simply want a great dress.
Spring 2010 collection images from nymag.com. Previous collection images from style.com.