lfw: christopher kane spring/summer 15
The designer's first collection without the guidance of Louise Wilson explored the teacher/student relationship in a show dedicated to and run through with the memory of his mentor.
It's been exactly four months since Professor Louise Wilson OBE passed away, unexpectedly, leaving behind an adoring group of friends - colleagues, former students, industry legends - with, as they keep saying when you speak to them, a season of firsts: the first show without Louise present, the first collection without her guidance and fierce verdict, and the first London Fashion Week without her there to co-process it all with. The city is made of up of designers cultivated by Wilson, but none of them were closer to her than Christopher Kane, her ultimate success story, who became the poster boy for her London fashion machine.
Their mutual friends - and they were a small, close-knit group - were there at his show on Monday afternoon, working behind the scenes, or reviewing the show, or just watching it, and you couldn't help but feel that Kane's decision to dedicate the collection to Wilson was somehow a therapeutic rallying point for the people who loved her, now left behind. It wasn't a memorial - one will follow in February - but more of a coming to terms with a life and career that go on without Wilson. In that sense, the collection could be seen as the lead-up to a kind of second coming-of-age for Christopher Kane, because there's no doubt that Wilson's absence will change his work, one way or another. First, however, the designer had to mourn his mentor, and he did it in the most honest way he could.
Backstage he said he was revisiting the bondage rope elements he'd worked on while at Central Saint Martins, and adding nods to the things Wilson liked most in life, like horses (there in the towering leather sandals that made the models prance) while referencing his own archives (what he called "the abstract boning", for instance), and the school years that were so important to him, even before he made it to Wilson's notorious tutorials. "I used to wear a burgundy blazer at Taylor High," Christopher said, referring to his old school in Motherwell. The collection was an homage to Wilson, but it was just as much about Kane's ten years of work because the two are inseparable. He never stopped learning. "It's a very special process and always was; students and teachers," he said.
Had you not known about Wilson's death and her friendship with Kane, and simply looked at the collection like any other Christopher Kane collection, it would have struck you as sombre, if not serious, not least thanks to its poignant Diamanda Galàs Dark End of the Street score. The fun subversion Wilson encouraged in Kane had taken an appropriate season off, which resulted in a very grown-up collection that echoed the feeling all of Wilson's former students and industry friends must be dealing with more than anything: a kind of involuntary independence. But, as a visibly moved Kane said after the show, "She's always here, for me." The show must go on.
Text Anders Christian Madsen