LFW: CHRISTOPHER KANE F/W 2014

Fashion shows have audiences segregated by their level of interest and involvement in the fashion industry. Front row are editors and buyers from the biggest magazines and biggest stores. Directly behind them are more of the same from smaller magazines and smaller stores. These are the people to whom a show is directed. If they do not find a collection interesting, one likely won’t see many pieces on store shelves come fall. These are the opinion that matters. Interestingly enough, these are the people who are most quiet as they leave a show.

Others attending fashion shows include bloggers, who are inevitably chatty not only about the show but about their hotel and the tube ride over this morning and the scones,  “oh my did you try the raspberry?” There are a handful of “celebrities” in the mix but most, like me, really just want to provide the best information possible for their readers and want to get the details correct.

Next come fashion students who can easily be identified not only by their exhausted appearance, but their continual apologetic, “I liked it, but there’s so much I would have done differently.”

Then, come the hardcore fans, the ones who campaigned hard for tickets and managed to get in at the very back, struggling to see the show but, for the most part, just happy to be there. These are the brand’s champions and in their minds their favorite designers can do no wrong. “Basic black, how original!” you’ll hear them say, or “S/He really raised the bar for everyone else.” We smile when we hear such statements because while the enthusiasm is cute and endearing, black is not original and if everyone raised the bar as much as their fans say it would have been out of reach years ago.

That long introduction is necessary because, well, this time the fans are right. What Christopher Kane has done with his Fall/Winter collection is original and does raise the bar for everyone else. Whether other designers actually pay attention or of this is another exercise in art over function remains to be seen. Trying to read a buyer’s face post-show is like trying to read a book with the cover shut: impossible. Yet, there are so many wonderful things in this collection, so many aspects that are truly innovative to the point of being mind-boggling, we can only hope that buyers are as excited to get these looks into their stores as fans are to see them there.

Kane started the show with all black pieces; nothing too terribly exciting, gently helping his audience get into the rhythm of things. What was noticeable was gatherings around every opening, including necks and skirt hems. Kane went through eight looks of solid black. On the ninth look there was a hint of green in a shirt poking up above the neckline of a jacket. Nothing too surprising.

Then, tenth look, there it came: neon green knit sweater. Game on, pay attention, because nothing is “normal” for the remainder of the show. What makes this sweater so different is the sleeve cutouts surrounded by knit ruffles. The  technique is one that will require some care on the part of the wearer, but is so worth the extra attention.

There is a tremendous amount of leather in this collection, some shiny, some trimmed in fur, some studded, all to varying effect, all very well thought out pieces. Yet, it is the knits that steal the first part of this show, hands down. Neon colors, ruffles, balls, knobs, cut outs, and silk ribbons interwoven take the concept of knits to a surprising level where a sweater is not just a sweater, but a bit of a statement as well.

When the collection moves into pinks, Kane turns up the heat even more. He starts with an overcoat with a diagonal hem, then comes along with a pink leather dress whose sleeves completely redefine the concept of ruffles. He plays with the mix of black and pink for a few looks, each one gorgeous in its own right, then begins working absolute magic with pleats. I’m not talking skirts here, either. Kane has pleats running from top to bottom in every direction imaginable and he does so with such incredible precision that not a one was ever the slightest bit out of place.

Oh, and to top it all off, the designer introduces his first line of handbags in this collection.

Christopher Kane’s fans had a lot to talk about as they left his show this morning, and I fully expect to see pictures and reviews all over the place for the remainder of the week. This collection has the potential to be a game changer. I will be anxious to see how it is actually received.

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