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London Fashion Week: Christopher Kane Plunges Into Darkness

Designer takes a moody turn from past collections

Models walk the runway during the Christopher Kane show at London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012.

Models walk the runway during the Christopher Kane show at London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012.

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Coming off several career-clinching seasons of irregular, bright hues and instructive styling ideas, Christopher Kane, London’s premier young talent, plunged into murkier depths for Fall 2012. Palettes as a whole tend to darken for winter – though that certainly hasn’t stopped him from presenting safety orange or sky blue for cold weather before – but this season, Kane seemed to distance himself noticeably from his typical DayGlo spectrum. Deeply shimmering purples, navys and reds swirled like lava over inky black backdrops, some appearing under plasticized inlays, adding a strangely glazed texture to everything. Some of the punchier dresses featured giant floral palettes, though even they felt sinister. It was hard to tell if this was satire or legitimate gloom at play; he shares this inscrutability with Lana Del Rey, whose music would fit better with this collection than the one he launched her catwalk-scoring career with last season.

For an experimental designer with an exhaustive, magpie approach to creation, Kane has done exceedingly well at retail, though who his “core customer” is remains unclear. For a few seasons, the Neon Raver was his proud muse, with his key Spring 2011 collection literally fire-starting an entire fluorescent-crazed juggernaut with the Vogue set and feverish clubbers alike. But Kane isn’t content to be a vanguard – or rather, he’s a vanguard because he isn’t content. He abandons ideas frequently and tries new visions on for size, with his shoppers following suit. Who will weather Kane’s new storm with him? Those whose bank accounts allow them to be as fearless and restless as the designer himself.

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