Harriet Walker: Kane’s French windfall is great news for British fashion

 

There has always been something of an entente sartoriale between the French and the British. We’ve been sending our best over there ever since the 19th century, when Charles Frederick Worth, the father of haute couture, moved from Lincolnshire to Paris.

That was shored up in the Nineties with the appointment of John Galliano and Alexander McQueen at Dior and Givenchy, and at the end of that decade, with a buying spree that saw Gallic luxury-good firms LVMH and PPR scooping up smaller names, including Stella McCartney and McQueen. It was this financial backing that meant they became the household names they are today.

It’ll be the same for Britain’s brightest talent, Christopher Kane, with last week’s news that PPR has taken a 51 per cent stake in his label. Distressed denim, velvet, gingham: you name it, Kane has tried it, and made it cool. Last summer, he had us hankering after a pair of shower shoes – updated with cool holographic detailing, of course.

His graphic T-shirts of atom clouds and yawning gorillas provide entry-level accessibility, while the more pricey items include devilishly cut silk-moire numbers, leopard-print cashmere separates, even hand-crafted appliqué floral shifts. This spring sees origami-draped dresses, pictured, held together with plastic  nuts and bolts, and T-shirts emblazoned with Frankenstein’s monster.

Kane will be able to use this new moolah to open a flagship store in London and develop an affordable diffusion line. His is also one of very few luxury labels to manufacture here, too: dresses are made in north London, while some knitwear and woollens come from Scotland  – Johnstons of Elgin.

So even though those holding the purse strings may be French, this move is a resounding vote of confidence in British fashion. Vive la différence!

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