Midway through Christopher Kane’s show, a thought struck as powerfully as the lightning-flash zigzagging across the bodice of a slinky metallic dress: disco redux! Who can blame young women for having the impulse to escape into a bit of naughty, innocent—or maybe not-so-innocent—fun in these days of hideously grim news? Sexiness has not been addressed at all in these past few years in fashion—in fact the ideal, the norm, has become covered-up, virginal, almost nun-like, and there are many, young and old, who subscribe to that feeling. Yet eventually that leaves a back door open, and through it something else is lining up to sneak in, all dressed up for a good night out.
Kane described in his show notes how he’d gotten his team together for a life-drawing class at his headquarters in London—a freewheeling exercise to give everyone a go at that art-school experience. Life drawing, for those not in the know, means sitting in front of a naked person, and putting down on paper what you see of a human body. That triggered a process in Kane’s brain that led him to confronting the forces of sexual attraction in this collection. And that in turn led him to develop something he called “Lover’s Lace”—collaged embroideries of male and female bodies embracing. In one passage of his show, the entwined figures were wrapped around the torsos of dresses and delicately traced in the folds of a full, sheer skirt.
Still, Kane’s talent is such that he will never lay his subtextural cards on the table in blatantly obvious configurations. He knows female sexual power can be transmitted equally in the tailoring—he opened with black coats and pantsuits subtly edged with flashes of red and electric-blue velvet. His wickedly chic sense of perversity was loaded in the accessories too—a red leather glove holding a red leather bag; a series of red leather stiletto sandals, all of them trimmed with suggestively desirable fetishy ruffles.
Two-thirds into the lineup, he segued into partywear, bringing on bondage dresses, vivid blue chain-mail shifts implanted with daisy patterns, and glittery, lightning-bolt embroideries. Did they hint at the high days of glam, of late seventies and early eighties disco? To be sure. This season, we’ve been seeing the sparks of that trend catching fire in Rodarte’s sparkly dresses and inJ.W.Anderson’s invocations of eighties lamé, draped sarongs, and big shoulders, too. Something’s afoot, and it’s about girls wanting to go out, dance, and attract partners. Fashion is getting ready to kit them out, and Christopher Kane has just jumped to the front of the line.