I know it sounds a little like lazy fashion journalism to throw around the phrase "it's so wrong, it's right", as if everything that had an inkling of bad taste could be excused with those words. Depending on the person, one could argue that something that seems "wrong" to most, is really just that – wrong, with no ifs or buts. I'm also pretty sure Christopher Kane gets tired of that phrase being bandied about when people discuss his collections. Sometimes it just isn't appropriate. The chiffon plaids and double thigh-high split skirts (which then prompted a double thigh-high split skirt rampage in other collections) of S/S 10? The embroidered florals of A/W 10? The brocades and filmy organzas of S/S 12? All pitch perfect without necessarily being "wrong". The neon bandage minis of his debut collection, the ruffled snakeskin prints of S/S 08 and the lava lamp gel-filled pieces of A/W 11 do teeter around the line of wrongness but somehow sway their way into becoming lustworthy eventually.
His A/W 11-12 collection however struck me as his most challenging yet. Well, at least challenging for me for reasons I shall dissect below as I once again delve into the ins and outs of a Kane collection, which has become a seasonal ritual of mine.
Lets start with the pervasive silk moir√©, which almost overtakes the collection with its wood-grained texture. Kane cited the linings of coffins as a reference point. I would add that moir√© reminds me of hideous 80s wallpaper and matching curtain tiebacks. Maybe an Argos sofa as well in shades of undesirable plum, seafoam and magnolia. It's a fusty and heavy that I associate with terrifying Changing Rooms interiors (pre-makeover that is). In garment form, they make fetching flared-out gowns on Victorian dollies that act as toilet roll covers. Kane took this shady fabric and dunked them in vampiric red, inky blue and murky purple, padding the edges out with leather and in cut-out dresses, tops, trousers and puffa coats. A moir√© knee length puffa coat pushes my limits right to the edge but everything else in this wavy/watered fabric is alarmingly convincing. Am I that wrong-side-of-the-tracks girl who is slipping in and out of seedy situations that Kane imagined for this collection? Nope, hardly. However, he has successfully convinced me that moir√© can exist in a context outside of bygone living rooms and chintzy interiors.
Then comes the pinstripe, printed on leather, striped on to velvet and repeated in the knitwear. Here's a stripe that I've not yet tried, even when I had to wear pencil skirts to work. Get the stripe too wide and you end up looking like a cheesy 40-something wheeler dealer who wears too much gold jewellery. Come to think of it, the pinstripe in any width is likely to remind you of wedding morning suits, possibly with a flash of purple or burgundy handkerchief. That's not in itself a bad thing but spanking a wad of money on a high-end designer pinstriped ensemble is yet another limit. When printed on leather, you definitely get the kolh-rimmed vibes of the film The Craft. That's a good thing by the way (unless you have something against Neve Campbell). I'm in semi-belief that I too can stomp about in a knee-length leather pin-striped coat and beaver boots, putting hexes on unsuspecting folks.
Chainmail is something of a *ahem* hard limit too (look, if The Guardian can persistently litter their pages with Fifty Shades references then godamnit, I will too). Kane coats the chainmail in red, purple and black and uses them as backgrounds to his floral beading and plastic strand embroidery. To be fair, it's gold chainmail that particularly offends my sensibilities. Remember those handkerchief chainmail halterneck tops? No, I never wore them either but I definitely remember them being a hit in da club on girls who knew how to properly bump n' grind to 112. I think I may have tried to shimmy around in a chainmail hipster belt. Emphasis on the word 'tried'. Kane did venture into gold territory with the outfit he created the Stella Tennant in the Olympics Closing Ceremony but for his collection he uses this oozy metal material as the perfect backdrop to one of my favourite elements of the collection – the plastic fantastic embroidery – yet another Kane twist on the floral motif. It's particularly effective when the flowers burst into shades of blue, purple and red all over a silver chainmail and leather-edged dress, like strange fireworks on a LED screen.
Finally we see the return and strengthening of the practically-trademark Kane leopard print. Colouring in the spots of a leopard print in shades outside of the brown/beige remit isn't necessarily innovative but with this season, it seems Kane has made it his business to go wild with his leopard print, rendering the pattern in a plethora of unexpected colour combinations. In addition to the pieces in the show such as the zip-up leather jacket and sleeveless shift dress, his commercial collection sees the leopard print placed on wool coats, biker jackets, chiffon shirts and jogging bottom and sweatshirts. A matchy matchy leopard print hoodie and jogger combo feels like the apex of bad taste limits. By simply changing up the colours of this familiar animal print, with the flick of a photoshop wand print, I'm suddenly all in favour of slumping around in this ensemble, maybe with the biker jacket draped over it. Holding the clutch too. Maybe with a jumper tied around the waist as well.
Hmmm… perhaps these so-called hard limits were just a little too easy to hit. Come on Kane. Give it your all next season. Test me with something universally reviled. I want to physically recoil in my seat and then find myself rethinking my initial reaction two months later, realising that yup, in fact, you CAN touch anything and turn it into collection gold.