Rita, Sue and Bob too copy

Christopher Kane on the Films That Inspire Him

The designer discusses the medley of visual media that has inflected his work with his trademark wit

Rita, Sue and Bob Too, directed by Alan Clarke (Film still)

“I know the whole point of this section is to talk about the books I love, but I’m not going to lie: I don’t read books. I read the news, get the information I need, but I don’t have the time to read books. As a kid it was always TV and film that inspired me – I found anything I could digest that was visual, I could take in better. It made more of an impression on me than the flat page. It was a connection to character, to music. Now when I’m working, I draw everything. And for research, for speed, I don’t do mood boards. Instead, I’ll cut and paste images and text, things I’ve found, a tiny picture or quotes – and it really gives the whole picture of how I’m feeling.” – Christopher Kane

1. Rita, Sue and Bob Too directed by Alan Clarke, 1987 (above)

“I watched this in awe as a teen. It’s so real and so twisted but I knew people like that growing up in Newarthill in central Scotland. These aren’t Scottish people, but I recognise so much of it, the vulgarity of it. It’s based on the play by Andrea Dunbar and it was a true portrayal of the people she knew, not the sparkly version. I like the rawness of it. I love the wife Michelle, played by Lesley Sharp, because I knew that character – a total sourpuss, always bitter, always cleaning, totally mental… In Prisoner: Cell Block H, she’d be called vinegar tits.” 

Written by Angela Dunbar

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2 The Prime of Ms Jean Brodie
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie directed by Ronald Neame

2. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie directed by Ronald Neame, 1969

“This is my all-time favourite film, with the best acting I’ve ever seen by Maggie Smith. Miss Jean Brodie is just bonkers, but not only that, she’s someone with wild ideas. I think it’s so important to have a teacher like that growing up. If you don’t have wild ideas then you’ll just be confined to that classroom. There are so many phenomenal scenes, one being this fight scene between Jean and the head teacher Miss Mackay.”

Screenplay by Jay Presson Allen, based on the novel by Muriel Spark

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3 Jurassic Park
Excerpt from Jurassic Park directed by Steven Spielberg

3. Excerpt from Jurassic Park directed by Steven Spielberg, 1993

“I have always loved dinosaurs and anything science and nature related. I was fascinated by chemistry formulas at school. I love the scene at the beginning of Jurassic Park, with the small fat boy and Dr Grant talking about velociraptors, because the kid reminds me of some of the people I went to school with – there were always those little shits who thought they knew better and I love this because he gets put in his place! My interest in nature and biology started with films like this. I was always collecting fossils and rocks. My family had animals – goldfish, dogs – and we’d watch nature programmes with David Attenborough in, which were brilliant, and still are. My mum wasn’t the sort of person who’d take me to a museum. She wouldn’t even go to the cinema with me because she knew she couldn’t smoke. So my interest was all self-taught, it came from watching these programmes.” 

Screenplay by Michael Crichton and David Koepp, based on the novel by Michael Crichton

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Bugsy Malone directed by Alan Parker

4. Bugsy Malone directed by Alan Parker, 1976

“I think every child should watch Bugsy Malone. Watching it as a kid is so surreal. You’re thinking, why are people my age dressed up like that? It’s a very weird concept for a movie and it would never be made today because it would be seen as sexualising children in a way. Whereas as kids we watched it and loved it, I wanted to be them. Bonnie Langford is genius in it, and so is Jodie Foster doing My Name is Tallulah.” 

Screenplay by Alan Parker and Paul Williams

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5. Cruising
Cruising written and directed by William Friedkin

5. Cruising written and directed by William Friedkin, 1980

“I watched Cruising as a teen and when I moved to London the gay scene was kind of like Cruising at the beginning, but it has changed so much, it’s so clean and scripted now. No one talks to each other. Al Pacino is super hot in this film, and I must have listened to the soundtrack thousands of times, it’s dodgy underground rock. My A/W12 women’s collection was vaguely based on Cruising: tougher and masculine and just really dark, blood red and carpeted in lilac. I wanted it to feel like a dirty cinema, those ones with dodgy carpeting where people go to have sex. We did a lot of leather with flowers – I’ve always done that. With my fur collection people were saying, ‘My God Christopher, why have you done leather with floral embroidery?’ I said, ‘Because it’s super kinky. It’s the Women’s Institute sitting around embroidering and sharing explicit details about their sex lives.’”

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Ratcatcher directed by Lynne Ramsay

6. Ratcatcher directed by Lynne Ramsay, 1990

“Lynne Ramsay’s work is phenomenal. Ratcatcher makes me think of Raymond Depardon’s photographs of Glasgow in 1980 – there’s a famous one of a little girl in a pink dress. It’s the harsh reality of those pictures with the beauty alongside it. The cinematography and art direction in Ratcatcher is spot on and it’s so real. I knew kids like the main character, James. Poverty was everywhere – my mum would talk about growing up in Motherwell in a family of 11, and they had nothing. I love that Lynne Ramsay is Scottish and she doesn’t hide it in her films. I feel so lucky to have been brought up in that environment where humour and personality and being uncensored was part of life. I think that’s what made me and my sister Tammy who we are today. We’re just funny. We don’t take ourselves seriously.” 

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Elvira: Mistress of the Dark directed by James Signorelli

7. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark directed by James Signorelli, 1988

“Elvira is so iconic, for me she’s like a Marilyn Monroe. She’s one of the best role models: she’s outspoken, she takes the piss out of herself, she’s the biggest punk and rebel. The jokes, the vulgarity, the tits, the way she used men as objects… It was so amazing to watch it as a child – totally not for my viewing, but it was dead funny. Obviously as a child I didn’t get all the humour but I was just fixated on her. The second show I ever did, in 2007, Elvira was the woman – it was Rambo and Elvira. Lots of draped velvet, really revealing, slinky dresses, combined with the Rambo leather and utility uniform. Here are some classic quotes. ”

Written by Sam Egan, John Paragon and Cassandra Peterson

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The Rescuers, Disney

8. The Rescuers, Disney, 1977

“Disney has shaped my life, and I still reference it today. I learned so much from the art direction, the colours and the music. This song, Someone’s Waiting for You, from The Rescuers, breaks my heart. I can’t listen to it without crying. I was also obsessed with Pocahontas as a kid – I thought it was amazing that there was a Native American Disney princess. The Disney version is sweetened-up of course, it was a real story of genocide: Native American people murdered and almost wiped out. Let's face it, Disney fairy tales are taken from really old folk tales which were quite grotesque, stories in which children were butchered... Disney has always been tinged with madness and evil, but it's also got butterflies and sparkle.”

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The Wanderers directed by Philip Kaufman

9. The Wanderers directed by Philip Kaufman, 2002

The Wanderers is me and my sister Tammy’s favourite film… My first crush was on the character Richie. He is the most gorgeous man ever – those eyes! He’s a big clumsy hunk – he could be a Disney Prince. Linda Manz, the tiny girl in it who plays Peewee is also amazing – she was in the Harmony Korine film Gummo. I still play The Wanderers soundtrack to this day. It’s so sexy and youthful, there’s so much lust, everything’s rolled into one in this coming-of-age drama about 60s teenage gangs in the Bronx. Still to this day I say: ‘Don’t fuck with the Baldies!’ This is an excerpt from the book the film was based on, written by Richard Price.”

The full feature originally featured in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of AnOther Magazine, which is on sale now.