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Christopher Kane’s Groovy Gingham Moment

Godfrey Deeny
September 21st, 2009 @ 12:45 AM - London

At London Fashion Week, there’s a pleasurable contrast between the truly offbeat and bizarre dreams that inspire designers and the edgily elegant ideas that emerge on the catwalk. This was rarely more true than at the beautiful gingham-and-go Christopher Kane collection, which was inspired by religious cults and sexual repression, shown Monday, Sept. 21.

“It’s repressed Lolitas in the Nancy Reagan White House, youthful beauty being kept down,” explained Kane seconds after posing backstage with Donatella and Allegra Versace, whose family fashion house in Milan is Kane’s night job creating the Italian’s Versus line.

Though a pedant might lament that nearly every look was made of gingham, this was a tour de force of cutting, draping and thoughtful layering where Kane’s brilliant technique created easily the most important collection seen so far in London Fashion Week’s Spring 2010 season.

Adding to the atmosphere was an eerie soundtrack by Lovetriangle and an invitation that featured a cartoon of a disturbed child.

“She’s the child bride of a cult leader, who already has ten wives. No wonder she looks unhappy. Think Jonestown,” Kane said.

But the resulting fashion, counterintuitively, was charmingly insouciant, craftily cut combinations of soft black, green or beige gingham, semi-sheer jacquard and gauze paisleys. And Kane’s restricted choice of materials meant the collection had a classy coherence and credibility, which only added to its impact.

The Kanes - Christopher creates in tandem with his sister Tammy - were also right on the money in terms of one of the biggest trends so far in London, enhancing the bosom with tensile-like crossing of stiffer fabrics. In this case, adding clever structural panels of corset and belt material gave the looks that right soupcon of sturdy chic. Cut with lots of high slashes to show off lots of leg, this was definitely a sexy collection, but one far from hard to wear.

And as a blues singer belted out a lament where the key, repeated word was “trouble,” Kane took his typically brief, modest and understated bow. He should have stood there a tad longer, the applause, justifiably, was pretty deafening.

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