With Christopher Kane’s show, we can say this for certain: bustles are back, and we’re going to want them. To qualify for accuracy: they may also be front-loaded frill-deep on a slick red vinyl pencil skirt. His opening look announced that. But what you can’t perceive from the photographs here is the impact of being glued to the sight of the bouncing, incendiary chic action that was happening in the back as so many of his plain black looks walked past.
Sexuality is a constant hum in the background of what Kane does. This time, it was amplified as a recording of a cat purring filled the air, a sensual metaphor for female pleasure and self admiration if ever there were one. Go on—just preen yourself in how great you’ll look and feel in these clothes, he seemed to be saying.
Animal instincts, biology, his working class Glaswegian school days, and—surprisingly—artificial intelligence are all wrapped up in the matrix of Kane’s imagination. At a moment when it feels as if fashion ought to be going towards something cleaner and sharper, there he was, cutting plain gray ‘school uniform’ shifts, but with stiff geometric upstanding collars that he later alarmingly called “chopping boards.”
Then, his grappling with nature wasn’t all it seemed, either. There were pretty micro-flowers and solitary daisy embroideries he attributed to his championing of ordinary urban plants that “grow through concrete,” of the sort he saw growing up in a working class conurbation outside Glasgow.
And then, there were his animal prints—overlapping hyper-real images of chicks, piglets, and rats—on stretch jersey body-con dresses. It turned out, when quizzed backstage, that Kane had designed them with AI. “What you do is speak to it, give very specific descriptions, and then it comes up with it.”
There are always some things in Christopher Kane’s work which feel a bit covertly disturbing or off-center—it wouldn’t have its weird originality if it didn’t. What’s for sure, he’s never someone who concocts things for the sake of instant public notoriety and clickbait. What he’s really about is being a designer of hot clothes that give women the chance to have a really great time with fashion. He’s always thinking of an angle that nobody else has come up with, like those incredibly naughty but sophisticated bustles.