I hate to be one to state the obvious, but for my North American and European readers can I just say how lucky you are all to have heaps and heaps of free time in good, sunny weather to host spectacular picnics or just enjoy lounging around in your pajamas eating Nutella straight from the jar and drinking copious amounts of tea? I must be hungry. It's lunchtime and all I can think of is food but that's also lead me to the magical realm of gingham and plaid. Not plaid as in weird trousers possibly worn by John Daly found in every men's section of your local thrift store but the sweet, pastel tones of the 1950s. Back in the dark ages when women were prized for being passive and submissive and secrets were swept under rugs in small suburban towns. I'm thinking of the wonderful wardrobe departments found on set of vintage Hollywood movies with creepy storylines such as The Valley of the Dolls, Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and Stepford Wives. Lately I've been favoring Christopher Kane as a designer I can depend on to make me feel inspired; as opposed to trying to stay relevant with all the recent runway collections and presentations the way a proper fashion blogger would. But this makes me happy, the silhouettes are simple and the patterns beautiful. Sometimes it's the simplest things in life that make us the happiest.
Realistically, a collection of twenty or thirty looks that didn't explore the playful side of gingham prints and baby doll mini dresses would have bored the audience in a matter of minutes- so Kane slowly introduces the glamor of artistic floral motifs edged out in beads and racy designs with darts sitting high on skirts and the omission of some panels. Showing a little more skin seems to offer empowerment to women, as well as keeping the attention of a largely heterosexual male audience. Plaid and gingham is embedded in urban folklore as the uniform to dowdy librarians, dorky school girls and skinhead punks. It has rarely been about sex appeal unless portrayed in a very subversive films. This is softer though, this is the modern and refined woman. I'm kind of reminded of a modern Joyce from Edward Scissorhands. Sure, the humor of her as a flat, one-dimensional character lay in her ridiculously long fingernails and general pastel tackiness but the white picket fences, lawn chairs and pink flamingo garden ornaments can all compliment this toned down look as well. I don't want to direct my own movie though, I just like figuring out how clothing sits in society and popular culture. I probably don't watch enough films or television series for a breadth of knowledge but I am learning.
The use of sandals as well as a light-hearted palette of lemon yellow, sky blue and baby pink all affirm the collection as being weather appropriate for Spring. Obviously since it's been three years since the release editorials are no longer featuring Christopher Kane Spring 2010; but I for one would love to see an eclectic layering of woolen socks, high heels and turtle necks in the spirit of secretary dressing. One of the most fun things I did in high school was the drama theater production of "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying", but if I could do it again I would ask to work in art direction and the costume department choosing the weird, beautiful costumes to create characterization. On a budget, finding something on this scale would have been impossible for so many girls (especially teenage girls undergoing so many changes in their bodies) but I can dream can't I? Doing costumes was always left to the mother's of dedicated drama nerds and never questioned- they had the skills to sew and original foresight and memories of the era. It was a somewhat intimidating but nonetheless magical realm that I wanted to be a part of deep down in my heart.
I guess I grossly underestimated and haven't really discussed the great experimentation and variety available in terms of dress structure in this collection. It takes me a while to drink in pastel tones and I'll probably never not get overexcited and worked up about connotations of the suburbs and America, as well as vintage style. In Spring everyone wants to wear dresses and attend high tea, or, if you're like me you want to buy thrifted dresses and do cartwheels on your front law and pretend you practice cheer leading. So this collection has it all (in terms of dresses); you name it, it has it. Everything from short sleeves, long sleeves, cap sleeves, no sleeves and everything in between. The bust has also undergone several deviations and variations in combination with the waistline to accentuate the bust, lift and support. I suppose that's something inherent when using a colored grid as the base palette to a collection but it comes back to that sex appeal stuff I was talking about? It's a subtle art that Kane has mastered and I do genuinely think the clothes are wonderful in their own right but also act to make women feel good about themselves.
It's not often you discover this gem in the form of a dress; but I don't think designers take enough gambles these days, what with the threat of global financial instability and people generally spending less on art and fashion. My library of magazines has revealed to me all the majesty and splendor of 2009 and 2011 as peak years in creativity but recently everything has been stifling with a few exceptions (who have earned golden stars in my classroom analogy of the fashion industry). The thing is, it's a real shame because not enough designers are creating the brace, bold clothes they want to. They just want to make money and keep their heads' above water. Anyway, this tear-dropped shape bust irresistibly screams of bikinis and Hawaiian dancers sitting atop car dashboards and has been smart enough to keep the pleated skirt simple and feathery light. The sheer is admittedly probably something many people are not ready to encounter in their everyday lives or on the street but come on people, it's 2013. Live a little!
The finale saw the celebration of more erotic motifs in the form of pleated skirts combining with darted, decorated panels to create a dreamy, mermaid effect. Sadly, mermaids are no longer the sultry sea sirens they once were when portrayed in 19th century poems and literature, (thanks to the accessibility of hair dye to the masses and 90s themed chain stores) WITH STUDDED DENIM SHORTS SO SHORT I CAN SEE YOUR POCKETS HANGING OUT. OK, I am calm again. But seriously, I am mourning the death of mermaids not being associated with a tacky subculture of youths that wear beanies with tank tops and drive around in shopping carts on a Saturday night. Maybe you have something better to do? I think I'm unleashing my old, inner cranky lady who would rather hold wine parties with cheese platters listening to vinyl and watching Twin Peaks then join the clubbing scene. But then again, I have never been a part of the clubbing scene. And you know what? I have no regrets. This was a rather long rant. Sorry for detracting attention away from long sheer sleeves adorned in beads (something that must have been very difficult to do) let alone creating images of roses in a three-dimensional surface. The moral of the story is, Christopher Kane is a genius and is capable of stirring many emotions within me. That is not a bad thing.