Screamin' Jay Hawkins' 1956 hit I Put a Spell on You is a song that Christopher Kane could use to soundtrack every show he has ever come out with but it was particularly pertinent during the spring summer 2013 collection. Generally I write about Kane with such shameless bias because ever since his MA collection back in the wee early days of Style Bubble, when I'd construct on-the-cheap Kane looky-likey outfits, he has put me under a spell. It's the kind of saporific hex, where even the critically less-acclaimed collections are nothing short of brilliant for me although to be fair, he's never really had a duff downer. I feel as though I've "grown" into my style with the help of Kane's work tapping into that inexplicable quality, which I've been consistently drawn to when dressing myself or choosing the labels that I feature on the blog. His clothes satisfies my appetite for something new, not-boring, fun and just a little bit weird, traits which have heavily defined my style in my twenties. Crushed velvet, gorilla prints, giant palettes, neon lace, embroidered granny flowers on black leather, pastel gingham, plastic gels, kitsch flower stickers - all these memorable motifs punctuate my own conviction, that I'm never going to be the sort of girl that can stick to something "simple".
So now we come to 2013, the year that I turn 30 and the year that Christopher Kane takes a huge leap forward, having just struck an exciting deal with PPR group, who has bought a 51% stake in the brand. I, along with every journalist, stylist or buyer that has championed his work from day one, will probably have felt a strange sense of pride. It's a well deserved deal that shows his steely dedication towards building his brand and now we've got the enticing prospect of Christopher Kane expansion to look forward to. Perfumes, bags, stores - bring it all on. I'm ready for a spell that spirals far and above beyond what Kane himself could have imagined when he was studying for his MA at Central Saint Martins.
I thought the spring summer 2012 was a watershed Christopher Kane moment when people departed the show with tears in their eye because they were so moved by how beautiful everything was. Then spring summer 2013 came and we continued to be entranced by the magical influence of Kane, as the audience were roused to a deafening applause. I recall ecstatic chatter as we patiently waited for the lifts to bring us back down to ground from the dizzying heights of the then-newly built Park Tower. "That's it for me. I can die happy having seen that." "Don't talk to me… I can't even process how good that was right now." "We're so lucky to have seen that." Just a sampling of some of the praise heaped in amongst editors and buyers, some of whom may have already known that a PPR tie-up was imminent.
It was another "Who'd have thunk it?" theme. Frankenstein. Nothing gory, macabre or literal except for Boris Karloff's face on a printed t-shirt. Those rusty screws attaching head to neck were turned into jewel-like plastic screws, which pinched the shoulder seams, cinched the waist and adorned dress straps. Kane revisited his pastel shades of previous spring summer seasons but turned up the sickly levels coating everything with a strangely artificial sheen - the white embossed leather on a sculpted biker jacket, smocked plastic edged with yellow and pink thread, basket weave organza paired with moulded rubber. It was a pick n' mix bag of shrimp and banana sweets upgraded into screw-fixed dresses that can't be beat. Everything was wrapped up into a fantastical present from Kane's imagination, as we were generously inundated with ribbon bow prints, neat rectangular bows on shoulders of boxy jackets and the best gift of all - pieces painstakingly constructed out of hundreds of suction-moulded translucent pink and grey rubber bows. They quivered ominously down the runway. These are bows that are meant to be left untied and untouched (although I'll be emitting rays of envy from my eyes on to any person who is lucky enough to wear these extremely expensive jelly bow pieces from the collection). The final trick that ensured we'd never snap out from under this spell was the Kane Klassic - a spindle of sparkle. This time though, those Swarovski gems set onto delicate white lace foundations were deliberately marred by the bold strokes of what appeared to be black gaffer tape. It was as though Kane had built up these layers of beautiful embellishment and decided that it just a bit too much and so scrawled all over it with a thick black marker pen. Those bold black tape marks are brilliantly symbolic for Kane's pervasive subversion, something that I very much hope will continue to underscore Kane's clothes. Even when he has stores in Dubai, Las Vegas and Chengdu and a department store perfume spritzer is spraying Parfum de Spell by Christopher Kane into my face.
All backstage photography by Joseph Piper for Style Bubble