LONDON, United Kingdom — It’s usually haute couture that’s referred to as a laboratory, but Christopher Kane’s ready-to-wear has, more often than not, been the purest mad science. Images of toxicity and infection weave through his work.
“Damaged goods” was the label his press notes attached to the Kane girl this season, the clothes reflecting the emotional turmoil Kane and his sister Tammy have been through over the past year. An undercurrent of violence was sustained throughout the show, from dresses furiously spray-painted or scissor-ed out, to models bound with nylon zip ties and the fractured angularity of the neckline on a bias-cut slip.
Kane was fascinated by John Chamberlain’s sculptures twisted out of car parts. The idea of ugliness transmogrified into weird beauty is something else that has been a part of his vocabulary for a long time. The way he uses a gluey, jellified plastic is a good example, overlaid here with huge amoeba blobs. Another example is Kane’s affection for fluoro lace, more garish than ever, in slapdash collages. And, don’t forget the recurring snakeskin — cut into culottes.
It made perfect sense that Kane was talking about primitivism and outsider art in relation to his new collection. He claims he’s inspired by their child-like quality, but that same quality infuses – infects? - his own work. It was obvious in the huge sloppy knits he showed for Spring. They looked like a small child’s school project. And then there were the funny little touches — white topstitching, pinked hems — that looked positively homespun amidst the sophisticated peculiarity around them.