HAIR PRODUCTS: KIEHL’S, INCLUDING SILK GROOM SERUM. HAIR: TYLER JOHNSTON FOR KIEHL’S/ONE REPRESENTS. GROOMER: ANDREW GALLIMORE FOR NARS/CLM. MAKEUP: ZOE TAYLOR FOR DARPHIN/JED ROOT. STUDIO MANAGER: MARK PATTENDEN. PHOTO ASSISTANTS: FENTON BAILEY, MALAK KABBANI. MAKEUP ASSISTANT: LILY GREGORY.
Founder and designer of Christopher Kane, London.
COLLEEN KELSEY: What has been the biggest challenge in managing your own brand but keeping creative?
CHRISTOPHER KANE: That’s my main priority, to be the most creative I can be. I don’t want to be a laggard. I don’t want to ever follow trends. I just want to be crystal clear and be very Christopher Kane and not be influenced by trends or what’s happening in the market. Everyone’s really focused on what everyone should be doing. Sometimes it’s really hard to talk about fashion when you can see what’s happening in the world. I’ll always remain passionate and completely creative, and I think that’s sometimes my downfall. The fact is, as a designer, you’re meant to give people what they don’t know they want—a dream, a fantasy. I think that’s what should still remain. When I went to college at Central Saint Martins for six years, that was the way I was taught. Fashion was something that was for the exclusive, but now it’s so inclusive—which is a great thing—but you still have to give people a fantasy and a dream, and make them part of the gang. I think that’s even more relevant today with all that’s happening in social media. People can really see everything, but I do think some mystery is a good thing, too. It’s hard to keep up, but you have to maintain the momentum.
KELSEY: Can you ignore the market?
KANE: You can and you can’t. Sometimes you can be overwhelmed by all the information, but when your instinct is telling you something, you really need to just go for it. Every season we always try to do things differently, but we’re always carrying over core values. We always want to get new clients every season, but we always make sure we have the old clients still there. There’s always a core category of “future classics,” as I call them, out there in the showroom. I just don’t want it to be stuff. There’s just so much stuff now. There’s a mentality now of just copy-and-paste. There’s so much stuff I’ve seen before. I don’t want that. I think people have been very lazy. For me, it’s all about working myself to the bone—blood, sweat, and tears. At the end of the day, it’s my integrity, and I want it to be intact by the end of the season. You have to be really clever on how the collection is broken down and how you can make the creative commercial. You have to be very conscious of what people are saying, but not take it to heart, also. My business is very personal. And that’s okay.
KELSEY: Has that been the biggest change for you since you started your brand—the speed of things, the amount of things?
KANE: I started off doing two collections a year; that was ten years ago. You could have your fun time, you could think up collections, you really could think about the ideas. Nowadays, younger designers are having such a hard time because they’re expected to have everything-T-shirt lines, jean lines, blah, blah, blah … That’s really quite wrong because you need to take your own baby steps—that’s what me and [Kane’s sister and main collaborator] Tammy [Kane] did. We started the business, and then all of a sudden something called “resort collection” came up and, we’re like, “What’s resort?” We took it very gradually. I get such a buzz out of it. Sometimes it’s so hard to be creative every day. It can be torture. It can be a jail sentence. I’m sure all designers will say the same. Sometimes you just really need to walk away and go watch bad TV or go on holiday or just do something to not be in studio because you can get sucked in, and all of it becomes numbers or color palettes, and you’re like, “Oh my God, please, I need to breathe.” [laughs] It’s nice to be brought back to planet Earth
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