Appreciation for Christopher Kane can't come from a place of pure fashion. To understand Kane is like getting to the heart of bacterial matter. You have to love his mind, his heart, all of his organs — not just his mighty fashion talent. For his spring 2016 collection, that was especially true.
For most of the time I have known Kane, he has been surrounded by his mother, aunties and family. The loss of his mother, Christine, to a sudden illness earlier this year is something he is keenly feeling and, in his show notes, he openly acknowledged the "trauma" and "damage and repair" mode he and his family are in. That, combined with the loss last May of his close mentor, Central Saint Martins's Louise Wilson — well, this spring 2016 collection was bound to pack a punch, and it did.
Kane said the collection, which was shown Monday afternoon at London's Sky Garden, was like a car crash: The pieces were based on matter being ripped apart and then reassembled, both in material and in flesh. Jagged cutouts and loose threads that appeared on knits had a damaged feeling, while zip ties cinched tightly at the neck and wrist made one think of tourniquets. Then there were moments of pure feminine sweetness — soft, shimmering layers of overlapping pastels — that evoked the idea of healing through love.
Kane likes to reference his past work, and he is one of the few designers who can do so without ego. That's why we saw flashes of neon and lace, wavy hems, the divine wool crepe and the PVC stuff that is pure fashion alchemy. And you wonder: What sorcery is this? It's the same materials but something so different, which is how Kane keeps us on our toes every time, forcing us to see fashion through his lens. I sense that Kane does this rather than maintain a "signature" because he probably would bore himself to death. He just goes with his instincts, making him a true fashion enigma.
As Wilson once told me after one of his shows, "If you can crack Chris's code, then the jig is up. But no one will."