Christopher Kane F/W 2016
Christopher Kane F/W 2016

The season of the well-to-do bag lady is here. No umbrella handy when it rains? Just grab a plastic bag and toss it over your head. Looking for a place to stick those earrings without them getting lost? Why, just attach them to your dress or overcoat! Tired of that cute little stud in your nose piercing? Great news: you can now wear a decoration long enough to look like sparkling snot and it’s not (be careful how you say that) a problem. Why? Because Christopher Kane just put all that and more in his fall/winter ready-to-wear (or is it ready-to-donate?) collection.

Before you think I’m unnecessarily or unfairly bashing Kane, let’s be quite clear on one matter: it is the eccentrics and avant-garde that push fashion forward. As strange as these ensembles may look to us now, they help us explore new and different ways of designing and dressing. They create new silhouettes, test the rationality of new designs, and can be the forerunners of whole new movements. So don’t think for a moment that I don’t appreciate what Kane is doing here. I get it. I understand.

Still, it is very difficult for me to watch this show and not giggle all the way through it. In his notes, Kane refers to this collection as “Lost and Found,” saying that it is one that has been on his mind for a while. In fact, he’s been gathering and saving pieces to put in this collection for some time. His concept is to explore the fashion and style of the ultimate outsider, a recluse who makes her way by hoarding things. He says this is, “looking to an outsider who has her own rules and her own style – she does what she wants and defines her own beauty.”

I suppose that means we’re celebrating the folks that dig through the dumpster behind the Goodwill rather than the comparatively rich folks who shop there. In many ways, this does look like a collection that blends pieces that might have once been tossed in the rubbish bin with thrift shop bargains. Floral patterns are mismatched. Knits are all knotted. There’s a full-length ostrich feather protruding from a shoe.

What a minute, not everything is quite what it seems. That stuff looking like corrugated cardboard? Yeah, that would be textured leather. Those floral prints? Welcome to the world of photo-real printing where the magic of time-lapse photography captured the entire life cycle of a flower and merged those images together for these unique prints. Chantilly lace is mixed with scrim to achieve a worn, faded look. There’s magic taking place among the textiles that will influence how clothes are made for years to come. Even those trash-bag bonnets are actually the high-tech products of milliner Stephen Jones.

One person’s treasure may still look like …

Christopher Kane has always been a champion of individuality, coloring outside the lines, off the paper, and up the wall. He says that parts of this season draw on memories of his childhood. My, want an interesting and colorful childhood  this young Scot must have had.

The only question I see remaining is whether people will actually purchase these creative garments that Mr. Kane has made, or will they go through dumpsters for themselves and when challenged just claim they’re wearing Christopher Kane. Would anyone be able to tell the difference? Dear, it’s all in where you hang those earrings.

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