Brains and beauty on display in a sumptuous showing from Christopher Kane


Harriet Walker
Monday 18 February 2013 21:09

"The brain works in mysterious ways," Christopher Kane said after his London Fashion Week show today: "Things just came to me."

Grey matter was a central theme, with feathered seams – Kane called it "brain trim" – on coats and dresses, and cartoon phrenology images depicting MRI scans came on black silk and knitwear. Meanwhile kilts of varying lengths were a nod to Kane's Scottish roots. Models wore oxblood dresses trimmed with dozens of silvered feathers and a finale of dazzling pieces wired with extrusive cobalt and platinum tinsel threads were inspired by explosions and brain waves.

Kane's inimitable train of thought has been the making of him: a 30-year-old graduate from London's Central Saint Martins whose very first collection was picked up by the industry, and who has gone from strength to strength ever since. Last month it was announced that the French luxury goods label PPR had taken a 51 per cent stake in his label, and chairman François-Henri Pinault sat front row with his wife Salma Hayek. The pair, along with Donatella Versace (for whom Kane used to design the Italian house's diffusion line, Versus), warmly congratulated him backstage.

That investment showed through in a sumptuous range of fabrics and materials, such as fox fur, leather and delicate silk used as floral appliques on sheer T-shirts. Filigree abstract lace held together planes of slimline and boxy tailored pieces, given a modern and singular silhouette with broad shoulders, and fastened with a single electric blue buckle.

The evolution of Kane's label will be followed closely by the industry as a whole; collective breath is baited for the opening of his first store, the launch of an accessories line and – more poignantly – the possibility he may leave the London schedule for Paris, as other continentally backed Britons Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen did before him.

If Kane's is a business on the cusp of expansion, then Burberry, which staged its show in the afternoon, is one that continues to defy the ubiquitous gloom with its commercial success. Chief creative officer Christopher Bailey has reinvigorated the heritage brand with modern flourishes and trend-setting best-sellers – and his autumn 13 collection was no exception.

The trademark Burberry trench came with rubberised sleeves and storm flaps, updated with thick brass collar, cuffs and a belt back. The idea was reprised in oxblood too – one of the shades of the season – and as a rubber pencil skirt, cheekily transparent and worn over heart print knickers.

There was leopard print too, proof that Bailey isn't afraid of embracing archetypes, safe in the knowledge he has modernised this label enough to withstand cliché. Bailey's love of the new has led Burberry to pioneer digital technology, but this season the focus was on young singer-songwriter Tom Odell, who performed the soundtrack to the show on a grand piano.

The final day of London Fashion Week today showcases some of London's younger and edgier labels, including Simone Rocha (daughter of John) and punk couturiers Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff.

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