In The Flowers

There’s no doubt that Christopher Kane likes to push our buttons. I love a designer who plays with contradictions, and Kane has become a master of archly walking the line between high art and cheap thrills.

Christopher Kane Fall/Winter 2010, after Klimt's 'Farm Garden'

Like Vladimir Nabokov, whose notorious Lolita Kane tapped as inspiration for his Spring/Summer 2010 collection, the up-and-coming London designer seems to have an endless repertoire of unsettling references with which to imbue his collections. The word mash-up is entirely appropriate here-and it might be the only thing that is.

Gustav Klimt’s “Farm Garden’, 1905-06canvas.

For Fall/Winter 2010, Kane sent a collection of black leather, lace and PVC down the runway. Sounds pretty straightforward so far, right? It’s hard to misinterpret that message. Yet Kane masterfully offset the cliché of black leather and lace by embroidering each cheongsam-inspired, body-hugging sheath with a tangle of flora. Irises, daisies, pansies and forget-me-nots bloomed on every surface, endowed with the rich color, texture, and stylization of a Klimt or Van Gogh canvas.

The effect of this juxtaposition of black leather and embroidered flowers was decidedly overwrought and yet strangely seductive. It’s as if Kane is daring us to call him out on his questionable taste, inserting an element of ironic mischievousness into his collection.

Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Irises”, 1890

Susie of Style Bubble imagines Kane slyly encouraging us, “Don’t fear, just enjoy my deranged flowerbed walk…” The artsy-craftsy, grandmotherly association of flowery embroidery is turned on its head, eroticized by its leather and PVC canvas. The traditional English garden is no longer a pristine, well-mannered place for tea; instead, it has become a hotbed of raw sexuality, drawing us into its heady spell like an intoxicating perfume.

And like an overwhelming fragrance or a disconcerting Nabokov novel, these clothes may run the risk of bringing on a slight throbbing in the temples-but for all that, one can’t help giving a wicked little smile at the bizarre and naughty beauty that Christopher Kane continues to bring before us.

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