Christopher Kane Spring 2017 Menswear
“Everyone is a target, when it comes to grief, or theft,” said Christopher Kane. Last night, he posted a rainbow watercolor on his Instagram account (handle: @kanechristopher82) with brokenhearted sympathy for the victims of Orlando, and the caption #NOTOHATECRIMES. He was standing in his store in Mount Street with his sister Tammy in London today, explaining how they had grown up in Scotland in the ’80s and ’90s surrounded by a culture where football hooliganism, sectarian Catholic-Protestant gang tensions, and standoffs with the police were a regular part of life. That is how the idea of graphics used by British police for shooting-range targets ended up on his parkas and bags in the men’s collection he was previewing. “I’ve been working on it for four months. It’s about our childhood near Glasgow, and what we saw then; that is what I always do.”
The sensations of fear experienced in Kane’s teenage years are always shot through his work somewhere, but this time, all too obviously, the imagery has accidentally accrued a traumatic overlay of topicality. The unintended contextual perception on this day, of all days, is painful—but then again, it links back to the terror of male violence that Kane has seen with his own eyes and abhorred since childhood. Perhaps he will be judged for making a poor judgment here, but more fairly, should not the judgment be on the enduring scourge that makes this subject one ever more unavoidable in our culture?
Anyway, the subject of gangs and subcultures per se is one of the wellsprings of menswear, and hardly a divergent source. With Kane, it’s specific: the working class—or rather, unemployed class—of neds who Tammy Kane remembers meeting for pitched battles in Motherwell on a Saturday afternoon after Celtic-Rangers soccer matches. “You knew to keep out of the shopping center on match days.” Neds, though? “Non-educated delinquents!” she translated. “Even though they were poor, mind you, they were always immaculately dressed, with clean socks and wearing Stone Island,” her brother chimed in. “And Versace Jeans Couture—and Galliano and Westwood!”
Well, what lad would guess at this backstory when approaching a store rail with pieces of this Christopher Kane collection hanging on it? Whether he’s attracted to the giant pansy-pattern sweater or the pink cotton T-shirt that reminds Kane of prison-inmate uniform, or the reflective techno thread in the stay-pressed pants, no matter. It’s only clothes, though definitely not ones to go looking for a fight in.