I came across photos of Christopher Kane’s most recent collection the other day, and they reminded me why fashion should be considered an art form. Kane has been a powerhouse in the British fashion industry for years, and is known for creating some fairly wacky yet beautiful pieces. Fine Art and Fashion are both concerned with aesthetic beauty and Kane’s new collection is no exception. For Autumn 2015, life drawings in glitter were printed onto see-through circle skirts. The fabrics used were luxurious, the tailoring a juxtaposition of airy romanticism and androgyny. Highly structured suits and coats featured in the collection, sticking strictly to heavier black and red fabrics. Many of the dresses were made from tulle, velvet, or a combination of both; the dense blocks of colour provided by the crushed or draped velvet were combined with sheer panels in some cases, giving the pieces a real sensuality – it was all about what you could and could not see.
Kane’s idea is not entirely original; life drawings have been used similarly by other designers, and transparent silks are nothing new on the catwalk. Mui Mui printed naked women onto nude and cream silk shirts in their Spring/Summer 2010 collection. Zandra Rhodes once designed a piece called ‘The Venus Dress’, inspired by Botticelli’s The Birth Of Venus, which depicts the naked goddess Venus emerging from a shell. However, the way in which Kane has used his life drawings is new; it’s more controversial, more sexually explicit, and perhaps more offensive to some than previous collections that explore the theme of the naked human form.
Hypothetically, these pieces could be worn on the street, and when the sexy subtext is undeniable we start to think about fashions being ‘appropriate’. On the other hand, covering up bodies isn’t going to eradicate anti-feminist problems, or prevent people from objectifying women in the fashion industry. If Tracey Emin can put a lived-in bed in a gallery and call it art, despite the arguments that it is inappropriate in it’s intimacy with the artist herself, and that it has taken no skill to create the installation piece, Kane’s pieces should certainly be seen as artistic. The romantic feel of his designs speaks more to fine art than to pornography, and the attention to detail demonstrates a true sense of craftsmanship. In the same way that a nude renaissance statue like Michelangelo’s David can be seen as beautiful, so too should Kane’s collection.