Saturday, August 22, 2009

"It's the Middle Ground That's Fashion Nowhere"; Christopher Kane for Topshop

Looking at Christopher Kane's capsule collection for high street vendor Topshop, images of which have been kept secret for the most part to build up anticipation for its store debut, I was reminded of something Karl Lagerfeld said about "fashion nowhere". It sounded typical of his high-minded rhetoric delivered in an off-the-cuff-obviously-what-I-say-is-true manner but rang true to a similar sentiment preached around the internet by blog writers or 'style-oriented' type journalism; that inexpensive, cast-off treasures of the vintage, thrifted, or otherwise used realm of clothing and adornment are a sartorial goldmine. Either the very cheap, or the very expensive are where fashion and style can be constructed, with the very expensive plunging one into the world of multi-digit prices, but with the fashion world's assurance that you are buying quality (in cut, shape, construction, fabric), supporting fine craftsmanship, and allying yourself with artistry. Hence the truism that it is better to buy better, for the long-term haul of building a wardrobe and establishing a visual identity for yourself. The fashion or style-conscious individual buys clothes for reasons other than utility, practicality, or function; they buy to construct themselves, the decision to purchase is one that is a reaffirmation of a faith in the importance of the form of ourselves, that our form, our body and how we present it is integral to who we think we are, which might be more important to us than who we really are anyway. To create an image of ourselves, to make ourselves in our own image, an image that is chosen and premeditated, has undeniable parallels with the concept of creation itself, which is a religious concept in the first place. The notion of department stores being the new churches is only too true, because it is where we can worship ourselves.
But to get back to Chrissy Kane's new digs for TopShop, they are that middle-ground that Lagerfeld dismissed as the true black hole of fashion. It's where nothing interesting happens, and trends are reinforced and repeated because they are safely established as marketable and cool (which doesn't necessarily bring along with it the quality of relevance), without innovation or exploration of why a popular current look or visual identity is desirable.

Look at this ensemble, grommet (they call it eyelet, psssh) pattern on the dress and the dreary little noose-satchel bag with an anachronistic tassel-thing hanging out like a leech; firstly the grommet patterning bugs the shit out of me because it's not done in any way resembling interesting. It comes off as a really cheap-looking watering down of Alexander Wang's metallic embellished aesthetic, like just having something close to a hard metal kind of material on a soft, feminine dress automatically implies toughness or some punk bullshit. It doesn't, it reads as grommets stuck on a dress. Which leads my mind to associations of a craft-project or some shitty DIY (omgz! like, DIY guyz!) studding that goes on all over style/fashion blogs. Kane graduated from Central Saint Martin's MA Fashion course; nothing he designs (I kind of doubt he did though, nevertheless his name is going to be on everything in the collection, so I'm going to treat it as if he was responsible for it) should be reminding me of a 13-year old gone wild with a glue gun and some moldy leather and jersey found at the way back of mum's closet, the place where she keeps stuff she got backpacking through the fucking Maldives.

I think the "eyelet" patterning exists purely to distract your eye from the fact that nothing interesting is going on with the shape or look of this dress. I can also see the model's underwear, so it's also semi-sheer...which is completely useless. Now you have to wear leggings or something with it, it may as well be a tunic then. Nothing's happening with that blue dress there...there's just nothing to say about it except that it has some awkward...beading...? To emphasize...your breasts? Basically it looks like those awfully sparkly ice-skater outfits, it's just selectively sparkly. The other dresses that aren't grommeted-up like this blue one are just similarly sort of floaty and vaguely ruffly in some places with cutesy colors. Not even worth posting.
This just baffles me. Again the grommet-y (gross word even!) surface embellishment on the shoes but this time combined with what can only pass in my mind as some kind of beach cover-up type garment procured at Venice Beach from a toothless hippie for $5. The concentric circle studding is mostly offensively dull and boring. Big circles that sometimes meet and intersect each other is not really interesting, it's got a bedazzled-vibe going on....and since I wasn't interested in that when I was 10, I have to say I'm still not impressed or intrigued at 20.

Mesh leggings with studdings. There's nothing to even say besides that. Just picture that phrase in your mind and swish it around on the palette of your tongue.

Grommets! And the only rationale I can see for the hole near the underarm is that Kane is trying to swing the pendulum of erogenous zoning to the patch of skin between your breastplate and your underarm. Hot.

This is the only element in the collection I've seen so far that even makes sense with what Kane's done in his RTW collections, and that's because it's a direct carried-over item from his Spring 09 collection with the ape and baboon print dresses that had full, pleated skirts starting at the waistline. This is a slightly watered-down version as it's a pretty simple sleeveless, short, summer type dress with a different animal print of the crocodile. The success of the piece is only based on the original success of the strong graphic image of a howling animal emblazoned on a pretty dress, which was related to other experiments in shape and silhouette that existed in the Spring collection. This dress doesn't belong to that collection, and it also doesn't relate to anything else I've seen in the TopShop collection. It's really more of a separate, commercial piece to get solely F21 and H&M type customers acquainted with the fashion world's collective losing-their-shit over his screaming-animal print garments that's been going on for months and months now. That said, I'm into this croc dress. But probably not if it retails for over $100.


  1. I swear to jesus that if I see another stud/grommet/zippered-infested bland garment I will take a stud gun to my head. that goes for anything slashed/cut/ripped.

    I bet retailers couldn't be happier that the biggest trends in fashion are so cheap to produce! By looking at stock pics I honestly could not tell the difference between a 7 thousand dollar sequin Balmain skirt and the usual Topshop fodder.

  2. seriously. idk i like christopher kane but this collection is pretty much a crapload of simple silhouettes embellished to death by grommets which i think we're popular in 2004 or some shit. i guess that's what people should expect with capsule collections but i'm still disappointed. so tired of fucking diy studs.

    i like the crocodile thing but something about it puts me off. probably because it reminds me of a toilet/cave/open invitation into the girl's pants

  3. thank you! for being the only other person to admit that this collection is so not worth it!

  4. right, i absolutley adore chris kane, but this collection? not so good.
    i like the piranna thing but i dont really like how he has downgraded his desgins becasuse they are for topshop. any publicity is good publicity right?

  5. i love you, this post is wonderful.