Scarlett O¿Hara; Rambo; Elvira, Mistress of the Darkand a giant set of Swarovski-crystal bathroom knobs. These were just some of the rich and potent components that went into Christopher Kane¿s second collection. But they don¿t begin to describe what came out: circle-skirted dresses decorated with corrugated ¿ammo¿ bands, gorgeous velvets spliced together with tough leather, huge crystal studs in place of buttons, wicked-witchy calf-length stretch dresses, and heavy-duty chrome-ringed belts.
¿It¿s Paul Delaroche¿s The Execution of Lady Jane Greyand vindictive, man-eating women!¿ Kane rasped backstage, half-dead with exhaustion. It was a triumph, both for the designer and his sister Tammy, who is the chief muse, in-house model, and general egger-on in this remarkable sibling enterprise.
Kane managed to confound skeptics who wondered whether he¿d be able to move on from the ultrayoung, ruffly neon-and-nylon-lace collection with which he made his mark last summer. He did, with a giant step into tough black and oxblood leather, sumptuous burnt orange, scarlet, and emerald velvet (tear down the drapes!) and an intensely creative sequence of work that patched fluid Versace-esque crystal mesh over a base of matte-black knit.
Some caviled that at first sight it was reminiscent of Azzedine Alaïa, and (in the Elvira moment) the drapey stretch silhouettes of Romeo Gigli. But neither Alaïa nor Gigli used fabrics or combined colors this way. Kane¿s energy derives not from looking at fashion history but from the sheer enjoyment of working in a nonstop creative fury with his sister in their rented house in Dalston. The level of polish and accomplishment in this collection was precocious; you could put the show on a runway in Paris, and it would still shine. Kane¿s the strongest talent to have emerged in London in a decadeand more remarkably, his clothes are selling. Twenty-two dresses flew out of the London store Browns within two days of delivery, confounding the chorus of critics who called his first collection vulgar. Just one year out of Central Saint Martins, this young designer is an extraordinary star on the rise.