I relish my position as a fashion observer in front of the computer screen, away from the PR talk, the air-kissing, the posing and the general fashioning around that takes place in and outside the shows. There are times I’d like to jump through my screen to grab hold of garments and physically linking with the materiality of fashion. It is this sense experience that I’m unable to fulfil from my position with digital bits and bytes in between the garments and me.
When I look at the collections, I respond to all the core design elements like colour, fabric, cut, silhouette and detail whilst I find myself to be less interested in the concepts behind the collections. In fact, I couldn’t care less about the idea behind Christopher Kane’s s/s 2014 show, which now that you asked, was based on photosynthesis and the inadequacy of high school sex education – whatever that means.
Like Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, Kane follows the same formula of to tried and tested shapes with an innovative and relevant use of colour and fabrics along with subtle changes in proportion and detail. Both have a knack of elevating quiet, relatively ‘normal’ garments in a way that makes them culturally loud without being slaves to overarching themes. Whilst Christopher Kane’s overall s/s 2014 collection was a mixture of floral prints and attention-grabbing cut out details on recognisable garments, the middle section, looks 21, 22, 23 and 24 from his 54 look collection stood out. The emphasis here was on tactility of the fabric and intrigue ignited by colour. The material that tied these looks together is an alchemic melange of metallic material in tones of silver, coral pink, blue lilac and sea green.
This fabric is difficult to pinpoint yet inviting in its appearance. My inability to touch it triggers a multitude of thoughts, suspicions and emotions. The surface looks as if constructed using layers of singular metallic webbing heat-bonded together into a felt like finish. Variation of the colour combination in different intensities and formations suggests that these are individually crafted pieces.
Look closely and it’s difficult to see where the top ends and the skirt starts as the fuzzy textile, which appears fragile, blurs the outlines of these garments with frayed edges. At the same time, there is something about the way in which the dress creases, following the movement of the model’s body suggesting stiffness, prompting the physicality of cardboard. I have a feeling that the dress is either incredibly uncomfortable or a real pleasure to wear; the material, soft like candy floss or irritating and itchy like metal wool. None of this I know for sure, as my senses are guided by my sight and the bank of memories I have of surface texture.
Anything more outlandish in silhouette and this material that is already rather conceptual would be far too over the top. In look 22, the humble top and skirt do everything in their simplicity to allow the textile to fulfil its purpose, as a show piece of experimentation. The shapes are wearable, recognizable and understandable, everything the material is not. This is where Christopher Kane’s strength lies, he has developed skills for creating garments that are familiar but equally foreign.