Given his track record to date, Christopher Kane could probably retire the award for Most Arcane Influence. His latest was a career best: Al Pacino's gay serial-killer thriller, Cruising, which inflamed the early eighties. Kane imagined the kind of girl who might infiltrate the lurid sex clubs depicted in the film, quietly playing voyeur. She'd have to be a very odd bird, indeed—and a pretty tough cookie, maybe like the girl in a photo from Joseph Szabo's Teenage series, another personal favorite of Kane's.
Anyway, all of that—the lurid, the sinister, the scandalous—came together in a collection that used extraordinary technique to induce visions of darkest sin. Kane reveled in it. He took to moiré, for instance, because it reminded him of "the inside of a coffin." He compared the red he used to "a vial of blood." It was one component of a morbid, synthetic palette—black, purple, hectic blue—which, when it shaded florals or leopard print or that moiré, brought to mind Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil or Huysmans' Against Nature, masterpieces of nineteenth-century decadence. The big black blooms flocked in black velvet on purple tulle mesh said all that and more. The thick black leather cording that belted and hemmed sheathlike dresses implied more up-to-date transgressions.
The collection couldn't have been more of a 180-degree from Spring's mesmerizing airiness, but the lacquered, oily artifice of these clothes exerted its own kind of attraction, at the same time as it daringly courted revulsion. Once again, Kane beaded and embroidered flowers, but where they were heavenly last season, here they were hellishly tangled and clotted, paired with cashmere knits densely threaded with wire. Maybe that was a mad mirror image of the pinstripes that opened the show. And were they a subtle evocation of Wall Street, another New York-in-the-eighties benchmark—and another world where bad things happen?