LONDON, United Kingdom — Christopher Kane’s fearless interlacing of science and weird sex is now enough of a signature that it no longer lands with quite the transgressive wallop it used to. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still raise an eyebrow. Kane is obsessed with other people’s obsessions. His new collection introduced us to rubberists (self-explanatory) and looners, people with balloon fetishes. Something to be celebrated, said the exultant fanfare from Anna Meredith which opened the show. (Thanks to Simon Halsberghe for a particularly provocative soundtrack.)
When Kane talked about how fetishes can transmogrify the ordinary into something sexual, he might almost have been talking about his new collection. Incursions of crystal-trimmed latex added a disturbing edge to a virginal white shirt dress. Never mind the virgin, the latex had the same effect on a black slipdress. Both were paired with a sensational slingback (the sling in latex, naturally).
This dialogue between plastic and crystal — the one pliant, the other transparent — defined the liquid essence of the collection. “Be as fluid as you can,” said Kane, words with a distinctly contemporary relevance. His models carried bloodbag-like purses swishing with coloured liquid. It was the kind of horror-movie flourish he excels at, but it was also the perfect encapsulation of the endless challenge that Kane and his sister Tammy delight in.
He mentioned sploshers, people who get their kicks from being smeared with food. God forbid that was the inspiration for the “cupcake” silhouette that claimed the collection. There is really no such thing as “too far” for Kane. Take that lace-trimmed metal mesh skirt slit so high on the thigh. Or the quilted puffa coat, with the massive capelet. Or the graphic of a pair of rubber gloves, increasingly sinister with each repetition. And never mind the defiantly lurid quality of green and red paillettes or balloon-printed lamé. Even an item like a huge fuchsia cardigan shape worn as a dress had the perverse undertow of Christine Keeler heading to the shops on a Sunday morning (look her up, she’s worth the Google).
“Twisted?” Now it was Kane’s turn. “It’s what we do. Tammy and I are both pretty weird.” It’s why he is unique. It’s also why his fans live in eternal hope that the rest of the world will eventually get it.