He stands alone. There is simply no one else whose postshow rationale could run a gamut from peekaboo cutouts based on "sterilized petals" (his words), to the equivalence of the female anatomy to a flower, to inspiration derived from the process of photosynthesis, to the inadequacy of high school sex education. All of those elements were present in the collection Christopher Kane showed today, but, as fearsomely academic as at least some of them sound, the overriding impression was enchantment. It was a joy to see Kane take a sweatshirt and satin skirt—gorge grunge—and make the outfit quizzical by slicing out one shoulder and trimming it with the same crocodile clips he used to pin back skirts like he was dissecting them. Same thing when he applied those sterilized petals (they looked like metal teardrops) to a long, mint green tank dress. So much exposure, so little revelation. Genius.
Spring '14 has gone furiously floral in London, but there was a primal fierceness to Kane's use of flowers. "I never like to do anything like anyone else," he said (mild understatement). "We live because of flowers and trees," he said. "They produce oxygen. But we take them for granted." His effort to redress that situation involved an emphasis on flowers' reproductive capabilities—and their inevitable correlation with women. If they weren't quite as graphic as Georgia O'Keeffe's flower paintings, Kane's spreading blossoms still managed a lush physicality. Some of the most startling pieces in the show featured magnetic, silvery images of reproductive organs, trimmed with cellular filigree. The staging of the presentation—acres of mirrors—created a cloning effect as the models walked, which offered another unanticipated kind of reproduction.
Science and medicine are Kane's wellspring. He lifted the arrow motif that was a graphic feature in the collection from a textbook describing the oxygen-out-carbon-dioxide-in process of photosynthesis. And he said the last dresses were "like huge textbooks blown up." The presentation suggested he wasn't happy with the way school taught him science, never mind sex education. "Another Brick in the Wall," Pink Floyd's classic of classroom disaffection, soundtracked the finale. But what a spectacular way to redress childhood injustice. Yep, he stands alone.