By Laia Garcia
Given the current political climate, it’s not surprising designers are looking at the roles women have traditionally occupied, and finding inspiration in the banal. For his spring 2018 collection, it was clear Christopher Kane looked home for inspiration. Perhaps not his own home, but the homes where women own the domestic space — raising children, cleaning, and making dinner while their significant others go out into the workplace.
Looking through the show images, I thought about Chantal Akerman ‘s cult-film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, which documents (in painstaking detail), three days in the life of a housewife who entertains gentlemen callers in the afternoons. The housecoats in wallpaper floral prints, the ruffles with origins in bedskirts, and the dress and matching jacket made out of laundry-bag netting were all reminiscent of traditional mid-century domestic dressing. But those elements, combined with the littlest bit of erotica — black patent leather, the sheer fabrics, the dresses printed with work by the artist John Kacere, who specialized in photo-realist paintings depicting women’s lingerie-d covered bottoms — turned it into a thoroughly modern collection.
Meanwhile, the accessories took a more literal approach. We’ve seen fringe emerge as a trend this season, but at Kane, the fringe was actual mop fringe. It decorated the top of off-white patent leather booties, making every step the models took like mops in action (clean while you walk, imagine that!). Sponges, which made their first appearance on the designer’s fall 2017 runway, now seemed perfectly in sync with the clothes at hand. The classic yellow dishwashing sponge made its appearance on plaid pumps with chain details laid over it, while other shoes featured a black sponge that covered the whole front of little boots, giving them a look of homemade armor.
And then there are Crocs. Originally meant to be worn as boat shoes, they soon became an essential part of the suburban family uniform. Worn by kids (Prince George!), and moms (Michelle Obama was also spotted wearing a pair in 2009) alike, they are the perfect shoe for those who need to be on their feet all day, cleaning, and cooking, dealing with whatever life throws at them. Kane has been indulging a love for Crocs for a few seasons now, starting with spring 2017, which featured the notorious shoe style done up with a marble pattern and decorated with stones. This time around, he took another style in the Crocs family, a mesh sandal/sneaker that can be worn in the water, and embellished them with crystals — going so far as to create a sort-of high-top style that includes a crystal ankle cuff.
“Homey,” a word used to describe things that are cozy, comfortable, and familiar, has become almost a bad word, a way to describe someone that’s plain, uninterested in the outside world. But there is something wonderful about Kane’s reclaiming of this aesthetic. Reclaiming power for all the women, whether or not their lives perfectly line up with what the modern, liberated woman of the 21st century is supposed to be.
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