Kane’s Two Very Able Collections

When Christopher Kane’s Topshop collection appeared on Broadway on September 18, there was a near stampede, in spite of Fashion Week fatigue and high-for-Topshop pricetags. Signs littered the store with buying limits: “No more than five”; “None of the same items in different sizes.” Regardless, absurd eBay prices followed, as did and the near-selling out of the collection in Topshop stores in the UK. The collection itself is classic Kane–club kid-worthy sheer tops and grommets with an emphasis on punky, asymmetric cuts. Even the look that garnered mainstream attention–the brightly colored animal prints made popular by Rihanna–gets an update with a crocodile on both a tank and a sheath dress. The lace and metal, pink, black and printed leggings, dresses, and hooded sweatshirts are tough. They give the average Topshopper the impression that C. Kane likes his ladies rock-and-roll. (IMAGE: CHRISTOPHER KANE SPRING 2010)

So, earlier this week in London, Kane gave fans a minor shock with his spring collection, a gingham-laden, all-American frock fest. Some of his darker, more downtown leanings appeared with a tailored blazer or a sleek, cut-out turtleneck, but for the most part, his London show featured picnic-ready, flowing checked skirts and bodices. The last half premiered lilac rose prints embroidered on ladylike chiffon. Granted, the majority had thigh-high slits or bustier cuts, but this is quite a step away from the cutouts, enlarged prints, and toy-like, neon paperdoll dresses of last spring.

While Kane’s about face confused some journalists and fans–many quipped that they felt he was taking inspiration from tablecloths instead of former collaborator Beth Ditto–this may be a sign of Kane stretching his boundaries, proving he’s as diverse as his absurd color palette. With his inaugural resort collection out this year, along with Topshop and his curious, Lolita-esque spring collection, 2009 may indeed be Kane’s year to cement himself as fashion’s most versatile mainstay.