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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

London Fashion Week: Christopher Kane

Daryoush Haj-Najafi...

Time to fess up. I've never worn a dress. As such, womenswear has always been a bit too abstract for me. It reads more like art, hence my love of Gareth Pugh and Balenciaga. (Some have even suggested I take fashion too seriously. Could this be why?) I also dig the celebrity aspect of fashion designers. Who hasn't asked, What would Raf do? Or argued when arranging the furniture, insisting that, no, the sofas are not too far apart because Karl Lagerfeld would have them like that?

The point is, I could well not know what I'm talking about. But I have noticed that, after Kane's first show, when he wowed the fashion world with his mix of Azzedine Alaïa references and the genuinely new, he's embraced, of all things, the circle—or scallops, according to the fashion crowd. Sometimes they're big circles, sometimes small, sometimes in leather and sometimes in cut-out paper chain style. It's his thing. And can we have moment for the gorilla face prints, with their dental close-ups? Okay, so they're not gladiator sandals, but they might just be the new skull motif.

For this reason, Kane is excellent at branding—branding recognizable from twenty paces, and that's worth big bucks in the women's game. After all, Prada's output often looks shocking six months before it becomes the norm. Kane also does not bore; each show is more of a departure than the last. But who is the Kane woman? His are clever party dresses, even envy dresses, but are they become-more-you dresses? Such questions didn't seem to matter at the show, at least judging from the oohs and aahs garnered by a layered op-art circle dress in black and nude, or the marabou-trimmed dresses, particularly firemen trousers in intense hazard orange. These were Kane at his best: girly yet sharp.

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