Christopher Kane combines kink with women’s rights in powerful spring/summer 2023 collection

·3-min read
Models walk the runway at the Christopher Kane show during London Fashion Week  (Getty Images)
Models walk the runway at the Christopher Kane show during London Fashion Week (Getty Images)

Christopher Kane knows good sex. That sentence will make sense if you are familiar with Kane’s work – and have also watched Sex and the City. To the uninitiated, though, an introduction: since its inception in 2006, the Scottish designer’s namesake brand has become known for its sensual, seductive aesthetic that puts women’s bodies front and centre. Leather and lace are common fixtures. As are gaping cut-outs in unexpectedly flattering zones.

Even his More Joy spin-off label is a celebration of the female provocateur – with the word “SEX” printed on everything from T-shirts and eyemasks to tote bags and bucket hats. Kane’s is an aesthetic that suits the Carrie Bradshaws of this world: playful, irreverent, unapologetically carnal.

This is the first time Kane has shown at London Fashion Week since before the pandemic. His shows have always been a perennial highlight on the calendar, meaning his return to the schedule came as a pleasant surprise, particularly because so many of the industry’s other big hitters – Burberry and Roksanda – bowed out this season due to the 10-day period of mourning for the Queen.

On the evening of the show, the national moment of mourning was dutifully observed, with guests told to arrive at Camden’s Roundhouse by 7.50pm in order to mark the minute’s silence. However, many of us had our silent moment outside of the venue because, well, everyone was running fashionably late, so to speak.

An unusually vast space for a fashion show, the Roundhouse was energised by a herd of editors, buyers, and A-list models, including Daisy Lowe, Lara Stone and Jourdan Dunn. Vibrations were even higher as the lights went down and the soundtrack – thumping house music– began to blare out across one of north London’s most-loved live music venues.

Organza two-pieces came first, in mint greens and pale pinks. Lace trims lined the sides of skirts, as slits stretched up to the hips. Modest variations came when said skirts were styled underneath slouchy grey-buttoned cardigans, while nighties were reimagined as separates.

Entirely laced-out looks included a sculptural lemon yellow frock that could be appropriate for a summer wedding, and a black tutu with cut-outs on the bodice that definitely wouldn’t. We also saw a series of floral creations, with bold blooms covering mini dresses with high necks and capped sleeves.

Classic Kane nods to sex and sexuality came via bondage-like plastic fastenings that buckled across the body underneath lace bralets resembling caging. “It was about both protecting and dissecting,” Kane told Vogue.

One of the most interesting features of the collection, though, was the attention to the human body. Dresses and skirts were covered in prints of muscular and skeletal diagrams, with one silk dress bearing two hands crossed over the pelvis, while another saw two hands stretching over the breasts. “I was thinking about the anti-abortion movement in America,” Kane told British Vogue ahead of the show. “A lot about medical practices and women’s bodies.”

The shoes were another highlight. Spiky pointed boots in black and scarlet leather stomped in time with the heavy bassline reverberating around the venue. Some also came in silver, and boasted double spikes on the front stretching up towards the calves.

Championing women and bodily autonomy, this was a confident return to the runway for Kane. Not that it was in doubt he’d bring sexy back.