This article was originally published on 19 February 2020.
Glasgow-born Christopher Kane first garnered attention while studying on the Central Saint Martins MA programme in 2006; his graduate collection, a series of skimpy mini-dresses in stretch lace and elastane, astutely straddled the good/bad taste divide and encapsulated fashion’s then-spirited mood (he won that year’s Harrods Prize, and his clothes were shipped to hang in the store’s famed windows the very next day). On graduation, he founded his eponymous label with older sister Tammy – who he continues to work alongside – and showed a Spring/Summer 2007 collection which followed a similar tact, this time in a dizzying palette of highlighter-bright fluorescents, to unanimous acclaim. The label has shown at London Fashion Week ever since.
In the intervening years, the duo have refined a signature which melds razor-sharp cut with a bygone, demolished glamour (case in point, their breakout Spring/Summer 2011 collection, “Princess Margaret on acid”, as Tammy described at the time). Playful idiosyncrancies are strewn throughout: memorably, as part of a Spring/Summer 2017 collection, the duo sent bejewelled Crocs down the runway to some furore (now, it should be noted, the once-derided style is ubiquitous among fashion circles) and there have been fluid-filled handbags and plastic headscarfs, cable-ties as chokers and shoes stuffed with dish sponges. The duo trade on that amalgamation of the sexy and the strange – collections have found inspiration in French maids, brothel madams and fetishists – recalibrating our most base desires into clothes we can wear out onto the street.
Case in point: the wildly popular More Joy capsule collection, which sees the slogan – originally taken from 70s sex manual The Joy of Sex – printed across T-shirts, underwear, scarves and numerous other pieces of ephemera, from beach towels in summer to baubles at Christmas (most recently, released just in time for Valentine’s Day, a More Joy-branded vibrator).
Here, in the wake of the label’s Autumn/Winter 2020 collection shown on Monday in London – a continuation of last season’s of exploration of sex and nature with a seductive musing on the perversion of Eve in the garden – we speak to five women who wear Christopher Kane about why they are fans for life.
“My first encounter with Christopher Kane must have been when I was still at school. I remember seeing images of those elastic underwear mesh dresses in a magazine, and then the neon-lace collection after that, and thinking it was the best thing I’d ever seen and desperately wanting to own them. Since, I’ve been a fan of the brand, and when I met Christopher and Tammy I became their fans too! They are such good company. One hilarious memory with them is a very boozy outing to see Beyoncé play and then to Metropolis for a dance. They’re wild. I have lots of the More Joy pieces – a ‘Sex’ towel that comes with me on every beach holiday, a ‘More Joy’ wallet and T-shirt. The merch basically. More Joy is a great mantra for life! My mum has a couple of very sophisticated Christopher Kane dresses that I have been eyeing to borrow too. His clothes work on women of all ages, because they are so well cut. The dresses are super sexy and quite attention seeking, and when I go out and do a ‘look’ I am usually in the mood for attention so that suits me perfectly!”
“There are two main things for me when I talk about my love for Christopher Kane – I’m the brand’s biggest fan – the first is all the T-shirts, hoodies and jersey. They are comfy and chic but always funny and wry like Christopher and Tammy. Second, all the going-to-events clothes. It’s like you are wearing a show piece – they subvert traditional shapes, themes, textures and moods, while fitting into that black-tie world. GENIUS! My first gift from Christopher Kane was the gorilla-print T-shirt when I first moved here, it was Spring/Summer 2009 and it was a moment for me! Another fave is the sexy maid section from Resort 2019 – I have worn look 18 non-stop since I got it, and and when I feel like I have worn it too much and need a break I mourn it the whole night. If I could wear that dress forever I would. Liquid Ladies (Autumn/Winter 2019) is a mass of fun and sex – among other things, I own look 54 and it’s like an ice-skating costume but the exaggerated cartoon version. It’s the best! When I wear Christopher Kane I feel in on the joke – but also sexy and cool. Better than everyone else, basically.”
“Years ago my mum bought me a sweater for Christmas and I was in love with it, I still have it. Christopher was one of the first designers to invite me to his show and dress me. I don’t remember how we met exactly, but I immediately knew we would be friends. We just have a great connection. We’re both fascinated by a lot of things that happen in the world. I love him and his brand because he’s genuine and he doesn’t take everything too seriously. His designs resonate with me because they are so well made and always look so glamorous, but again, there’s always that sense of fun and ease that come with his designs. For me, they’re really easy to wear because I know whatever he sends me, I’ll look and feel good in it. I own quite a few things, but one that immediately comes to mind is this amazing denim dress I bought over the summer. I’m still waiting for the right moment to wear it, but it’s a piece I’ll always keep. It’s one of those pieces everyone could use in their wardrobe, and the fit is perfect on me. When I wear Christopher Kane I feel fun, fab and empowered, that’s all.”
“I knew of Christopher Kane right from the start – lime green and pink and orange bandage dresses. When I was a fashion student, we always tried to sneak into shows or become dressers backstage for a chance to see the collections up-close. Christopher Kane was the show that was impossible to sneak into. When one of my best friends got a ticket – she was a stylist – I was so impressed and jealous, like ‘fuck, she’s really made it’. I’m actually wearing head-to-toe Christopher Kane today. The jeans are from eBay (!) and my T-shirt Christopher gave to me. There were a lot of exciting brands launching in London in the mid-2000s – it felt like a real moment. For different reasons many of those labels no longer exist sadly. Christopher’s label has stood the test of time, and together with Tammy from the start they managed to master the creative and the commercial which is a magical balance for anyone with a fashion label. As for Christopher and Tammy as people they’re the best – if you like their clothes you should see them on the dancefloor.”
“I first encountered Christopher Kane as a teenager living in Nottingham. I hadn’t moved to London yet, and the whole music, fashion and subculture scene in the capital at that time seemed like the most exciting thing in the world to me. It was during the MySpace, ‘Get Your Freak on, Giles Deacon!’, Boombox era, and I remember seeing the short, elastic, neon bodycon dresses from Christopher’s first runway show for Spring/Summer 2007 and thinking: ‘I must have these immediately to wear out partying!’ I’ve grown up with it, so to speak, and I have enjoyed watching it evolve over the years into the label it has become today. Plus – I don’t know them personally – but I hear that Christopher and his sister Tammy, who he works very closely with, are lovely people. I went to their Burns Night party last year and it was fab, fun and warm. Christopher Kane has always made clothes that refuse to shy away from the slightly racy and risque – and even taboo. Even florals become a metaphor for something slightly erotic. I love his jewellery – I’m like a magpie, so I’m obviously still coveting pieces from the Pre-Fall 2018 collection, which was dripping with diamante. I also have a More Joy water bottle that was given out at the Autumn/Winter 2019 show that takes pride of place on my mantelpiece. How do I feel when I wear Christopher Kane? Sexy. Empowered. Glamorous. Everything!”