The artful designer - Christopher Kane story from the Guardian - the Fashion Spot
 
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The artful designer - Christopher Kane story from the Guardian
The artful designer
He has just two shows to his name, but already Christopher Kane is being described as the most exciting name in British fashion. Hadley Freeman meets him
Hadley Freeman
Friday June 29, 2007

Guardian
Along with "the new black", "the next big thing" is probably the most overused and inaccurate cliche spewed out in the fashion world. This has been particularly true in the British fashion industry, which, desperate to fill an Alexander McQueen-sized hole since he left to hold his shows in Paris almost a decade ago, has parroted the phrase any time a bright young thing with a bit of promise and a lot more confidence has appeared on the ever more depleted London Fashion Week schedule.

But these "next big things" rarely hang around longer than it takes to utter the phrase. Indeed, the description now has a touch of the curse of Hello! All of which makes Christopher Kane something of an exception. He is not so much the next big thing - in the fashion world, this quiet, boyishly pretty 24-year-old from Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, is already the big thing.
Just one year out of college, his shows have become pivotal to London Fashion Week. Indeed, even before he had had a catwalk show, when he had barely finished his MA at Central St Martins, the buzz about Kane was such that the fearsome Anna Wintour invited him to a meeting in her suite at the Connaught hotel. What did they talk about? "Oh, like, my upbringing, what designers I like, blah blah blah," Kane says. Happily, this slightly-too-cool-to-care pose quickly dissipates the more he talks about their encounter a year ago: "I was terrified, obviously, because you hear all these stories about her. But she was just cool as a cucumber and so well-mannered and polite and everything."
At around the same time, Donatella Versace offered him a job. "I just said no," he recalls with a smile, as if still surprised at his own gumption. Instead, he wanted to work on his own label and offered to "consult" for her, which is basically a fancy idea for coming up with the occasional idea for the Versace company. One definite benefit to that job is that he is occasionally summoned to the Versace headquarters in Milan, where he reclines on a leopard-print chaise lounge, gazing at photos of Madonna and Elton John, while he waits for Donatella. "Times like that, you do kinda think, 'What am I doing here?'" he says, laughing.
His teeny-tiny, often brightly coloured dresses (his biggest influences are the 80s designers of his childhood, particularly Romeo Gigli, Alaia and, yes, Versace - "showmen who made fashion look fun," he says) have inevitably caught the eye of celebrities. But Kane has learned from the mistakes of others. Unlike, say, Julien Macdonald, he is averse to lending his clothes out to celebrities, having realised that, although this is a quick route to easy fame, ultimately, appearing on the back of whatshername off of whatchamacallit TV show rarely does much for one's credibility.
"I don't want to sound presumptuous but I've worked too hard for my stuff to be seen on the front of the Sun newspaper," he once said. So it must have been a bit of a blow when one of his dresses appeared precisely there when it was worn by Victoria Beckham. Kane is sanguine when reminded of this slight kink in his career plan: "I couldn't do anything about it, to be honest. She wanted to borrow something, but I said no, so she went out and bought it. I've got nothing against her, but she's not the woman I imagine wearing my dresses. I think more of women like [the fifty-something editor of French Vogue] Carine Roitfeld because she's sexy and intelligent. Posh Spice doesn't even get a look-in." One celebrity who Kane does allow within his clientele circle is Kylie Minogue, who has been buying from the designer since he graduated, something that got him yet another mention in the Sun, which salivated, in capital letters, that the designer "WATCHED as she slipped [the dress] on!" "Kylie's great, a proper businesswoman and really smart," he says.
Another thing that differentiates him from many of the previous next big things is that, despite the undeniable artfulness and artiness of his clothes, his focus is business-oriented. His first designer idol was John Galliano. When Kane was eight, he saw the designer's graduate show on TV. "It wasn't really about the clothes but how successful he was, having been to St Martins and then taking off from there under his own label," says Kane, with evident awe. And it was that path that made him choose St Martins over other fashion schools, so that he could literally follow in Galliano's lucrative footsteps.
When asked who he admires now, he immediately, and predictably, plumps for McQueen. But it is not the designer's creative vision that he waxes lyrical about, but rather the way he "built up the company". Giles Deacon, for whom Kane did some work as a student, also gets a mention "because of his great work ethic".
Kane is by no means a household name yet, but the only question is how swiftly this will change. He is the reason London Fashion Week is picking up again: he was unanimously cited by the international fashion press this season as the reason they have finally - after an almost 10-year absence - begun to return to the city to see the shows. Style.com, American Vogue's website, described him as "an international sensation", and Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, described his first show as "absolutely fabulous".
Of course, there is a touch of the Absolutely Fabulous about such hyperbole being heaped on a young man who has only had two shows (even though both received almost universally adoring reviews). But he has been chosen by Swarovski to show at Swarovski Fashion Rocks for the Prince's Trust on October 18, a glitzy annual A-list event for celebrities and designers, which gets massive coverage around the world. Kane will show alongside the more predictable big cheeses, such as Armani and Chanel, who have the financial clout to command this kind of press attention. (Kane, on the other hand, still works out of Dalston in east London with his sister Tammy and just 10 assistants, almost all from the north of England. "They work harder," he says with a shrug.) The designers choose a pop star who will perform in their wares. In the past, these have been the unsurprising likes of Beyoncé and Bjork. Kane, however, has settled on Beth Ditto to model his minidresses. "She'll look amazing," he says with a smile, which is not something you often hear a designer say about a woman who is size 16.
Which brings us to the question of the wearability, or otherwise, of his clothes. For his first collection, he showed beautifully ornate, gorgeously coloured but, for the majority of the female populace, unwearably tight and tiny nylon and lace dresses; for his second, he stuck to the high hemlines but used the potentially even more unflattering leather and crushed velvet. For someone with his sights so much on commercial success, Kane is surprisingly unapologetic about the severity of his style: "I don't really think about it. I just do what I like and that style [of Alaia and Versace] was the landscape I grew up with. If people don't want to buy it, it's up to them."
None the less, Topshop attempted to democratise his style after his first show when it produced a collection of minidresses designed by Kane. The results, predictably, were mixed: the beauty of Kane's clothes comes from the almost couture-level of detail, which does not translate well to the mass market. Kane is pleasingly clear-sighted and honest about the collaboration: "It was good because it makes the clothes look more accessible and makes you more of a household name. Also at some point you do want to make some money." Was it also a way of gazumping the high street before it copied him? "I guess so, yes." When he was about nine, Kane watched The Clothes Show and knew that he wanted to become a designer. But even if he has nurtured this ambition for more than 15 years, is he not a little surprised at how quickly he has taken off? "It all just came at the right time. I know everyone was asking after the first show, 'Oh, will he be a one-trick pony?' Which was good because it pushed me. I just thought, 'No way.'" And that, I guess, answers that.

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29-06-2007
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I like him. Although I don't really care for when designers slam people who are trying to support them like he does when he's talking about Victoria Beckham. I think it's quite immature. But he's only done like three collections and two of them were relatively similar and basically the same thing so it will take a few more seasons to see how he develops.

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I like the way he thinks!

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sounds like "dirty European aristocracy".....

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^ me too - free and independent! Thanks for posting the article, lucy92! I love this take on 'tabloid publicity':

[IMG]Unlike, say, Julien Macdonald, he is averse to lending his clothes out to celebrities, having realised that, although this is a quick route to easy fame, ultimately, appearing on the back of whatshername off of whatchamacallit TV show rarely does much for one's credibility.

"I don't want to sound presumptuous but I've worked too hard for my stuff to be seen on the front of the Sun newspaper," he once said.[/IMG]

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Quote:
[IMG]Unlike, say, Julien Macdonald, he is averse to lending his clothes out to celebrities, having realised that, although this is a quick route to easy fame, ultimately, appearing on the back of whatshername off of whatchamacallit TV show rarely does much for one's credibility.

"I don't want to sound presumptuous but I've worked too hard for my stuff to be seen on the front of the Sun newspaper," he once said.[/IMG]
ahahah he's young!!
and having Donatella (and a lot more) supporting him...
we'll see later...

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Ugh. There's so much hero-worship for Kane. I really don't see what's so great about his clothes. I doubt he'll be popular for much longer. His signature is the eighties, and as soon as that decade becomes passe, he'll be out the door.

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mhn thats just PR or marketing on the band!!
Reality will decide!

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now that he is being sponsored again by topshop, does that mean he will do another topshop collection? im keeping my fingers crossed.

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30-06-2007
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i'm not overly crazy about his work(though i do like some things he's done)....but i love this guy's sentiments.....he does indeed think like an indie. i just think it's refreshing to hear that from a designer that's being hyped as he is,saying he said no to posh and would never answer a request from her,when many in his position are falling at her feet.

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I quite like his work. I love the fact that he didn't as he said become a "one-trick pony" by altering the aesthetic of his second collection to a degree but not changing his style utterly.

One thing I don't agree with though..is dressing Beth Ditto in his work. It's like he's trying to gain indie/alt cred. or something....

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Originally Posted by Dustcakeboy View Post
One thing I don't agree with though..is dressing Beth Ditto in his work. It's like he's trying to gain indie/alt cred. or something....
I don't see anything wrong with that.....maybe he really likes her.

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sounds like "dirty European aristocracy".....

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Originally Posted by Salvatore View Post
I don't see anything wrong with that.....maybe he really likes her.
Maybe...

I'm just a little , suspicious, about it.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dustcakeboy View Post
Maybe...

I'm just a little , suspicious, about it.

ha ha...if he dresses beth ditto in one of his mini dresses, that would certainly be a sight!!! and a hoot too!! ha ha ha...

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if he can make beth ditto look good in his dresses...im sure the leaner women will think he can make them look like goddesses

damn he's hyped. i really like the fact that he doesnt fall in front of celebrities' feet. but obviously he doesnt need it anyways because he's timing is perfect and he knows it. he also knows he's on top of the world right now. however, for many young and talented designers, they need to suck up a little get just a little bit of fame. it's depressing, but that's reality. and i really dont like it either, falling in front of celebrities' feet, not many can get offers from big name houses and tea time with wintour.
and i also like the fact that he's straight out about the money and household thing. hehe..he read that mcqueen interview? he seems to know his place(which is a pretty good spot for a young designer) and what he's doing.

funny...i wanted to go to st martin because i sort of want to follow mcqueen's footsteps and i know this school will open up more opportunity than any other schools in the world.


Last edited by MUXU; 30-06-2007 at 10:29 AM.
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you know it's strange to me,that there are so many other designers in London that have not only been around for much longer but are also much more talented(like Boudicca,Jens Laugesen,Emma Cook and Preen when they first came round),yet they have never recieved the kind of attention as Kane and Gareth Pugh are getting at the moment. which is a bit disheartening to me because it tells me they haven't a clue at all.

as for beth ditto,why is that so funny? because she's a bigger girl?? hey,charles anastase adores this lady as well(in fact he is the first person to dress her) and also had her front row at his presentation this past season. and if he and christopher are interested in her,then let's be happy it's not another tired looking celeb. it's really a breath of fresh air these guys are keen on somebody like her unlike in the u.s. where it's always a relentless parade of the same bleeding celeb clones that are always being dubbed style icons,when in fact,they're as staid as stale bread.

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