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Women's Fashion / Fashion Equations

Christopher Kane S/S12 Womenswear

A mathematical guide to the key inspirations and references in designers' collections by Laura Bradley, illustrated by Tom Baxter

Christopher Kane S/S12
Christopher Kane S/S12 Illustrations by Tom Baxter

With a back catalogue of references including Gorillas, Rambo, Crocodile Dundee, Big Bird, Christopher Kane is a Fashion Equationers dream. This season he looked at peeling floral wallpaper, cricket jumpers and council estates...

With a back catalogue of references including gorillas, Rambo, Crocodile Dundee, Big Bird, Christopher Kane is a Fashion Equationers dream. As well as understanding the importance of quality, cut and commercial-ability, the established British designer knows how much journalists and stylists love a snappy reference. And he does it season after season, usually selecting from retro films or his Scottish heritage.

For spring/summer 2012, Kane's starting point was a collection of old photographs he had randomly discovered of girls in council-estate bedrooms. Floral wallpaper peeling from the walls, doodled notebooks, pencil cases and glow-in-the-dark stars Blu-Tacked to the ceiling. The kind of grim environments that were popular in early 90s photography; a uniquely British reference if there ever was one. In Kane's expert hands, the gritty starting point resulted in a polished, refined ladylike collection of looks. And the palette was delicate and faded, much like the old photographs.

"Kane is a Fashion Equationers dream – he knows how much journalists and stylists love a snappy reference"

The outcome of the aforementioned wallpaper became one of the trademarks of the collection – bright floral appliqués scattered throughout. Like the Flintstone silhouettes seasons before, this is the one detail we will remember the collection for. Kane has dabbled with florals in past collections, from vibrant cotton prints to delicate embroidered designs on leather. This time, they appeared as motifs, heat-sealed onto translucent fabrics. Appliqué flowers on shiny nylon organza was reminiscent of that peeling floral wall paper, as were the geometric slits that peeled back on areas of the skirts, dresses and jackets.

With teenage girls in mind, described by Kane as those you "hate at school", the collection also looked to school uniforms in particular cabled vest sweaters with coloured bands at the hems that pupils wear in gym class. The jumper is similar to those worn by cricketers. Footwear also made a reference to sportswear – strange poolside-like flats, celebrated here – which will allow Kane to fit in with the upcoming Olympics-themed sports editorials next year.

The next Fashion Equation will be published in two weeks.

Laura Bradley is the Commissioning Editor of AnOther and published her first series of Fashion Equations in May 2008. Tom Baxter is an illustrator currently living and working in London.

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