christopher kane celebrates the joy of sex (and orthopaedic shoes)

“Sex is human behaviour, and it's fascinating, and sex, well, it can be fun?”

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Feb 20 2018, 4:22pm

Who?
Christopher Kane, who is really riding a creative wave at the moment. This, and last season, must rank highly among his most provocative and provoking collections -- using fashion to investigate sex, kink, suburbia, class, ennui, titillation. Last season he found fertile ground in exploring the perversions of prim -- it was kitchen sink meets sex shop (is sex shop realism a genre?), or a sex comedy of manners.

This season he widened the lens a little, exploring another domestic sex setting, taking The Joy of Sex, by Alex Comfort, Chris Foss and Charles Raymond, as a starting point. A user’s manual for pleasure. “Sex is human behaviour, and it's fascinating,” Christopher said backstage by way of explanation, “and sex, well, it can be fun? You know?” Well we've heard rumours, yes.

Where?
Christopher took us back to the Tate Britain this season. The long galleries darkened, the catwalk illuminated by blinding bright lights. It resembled a club, and gave everything a dramatic chiaroscuro beauty. The soundtrack was wonderful banging Berlin what-happens-in-the-dark-room-stays-in-the-room techno, overlaid with a very domestic woman’s voice repeating phrases like “more pleasure” and “sensual joy” and “the joy of sex”.

What?
The tensions, juxtapositions and balances in the collection were very much a development of last season’s, exploring different aspects of the same themes. Channeling the OTT-glamour-under-restraint of the 40s and 80s. Beauty under recession, or undergoing a renaissance post-war. Either way there was something equally embryonic, stilted and powerful.

So leather and lace and laminate, nipped-in waists, light slips and sexy boots. Chopped up coats and cut out jumpers, revealing just enough to leave a little to the imagination. The decadence of crystal and the bad taste compulsion of the orthopaedic shoe, a new collaboration with Z Coil, from the man who made the Croc fashion. He described them as “playful, prim and perverse” -- both fetishistic and uptight, and “also quite comfy and good for your back.”

“I wanted to try and do sex in a very beautiful, provocative, sensual way,” he said. The collection was maybe about not being afraid of the expression of sex or eroticism, even when the newspapers are filled with awful people who have done awful things. It found dramatic sweeps of desirability in the natural expression of sex, lust and love. “My clothes are there to empower women, it's about strength. It's a creative process for me. I'm not going to stop being myself or feeling the way I feel, but it's no disrespect to anything that's happening at the moment, and I don't even want to talk about that, but every season there's been an element of exploring sexual behaviour, human behaviour, that's just reality, just life.”

Wow!
Well, apart from the orthopaedic shoes, which will surely grab some fun and easy fashion headlines, it was the looks towards the end -- when the collection began to explicitly reference The Joy of Sex, taking Charles Raymond’s illustrations or couple’s kissing and women in pleasure as prints for dresses -- that really stole the show.