Interview by Indigo Clarke
LULA: Hello Christopher, how are you today?
Christopher Kane: I’m good today, I got here to the studio about an hour ago and had my first cup of coffee for the day… I’m feeling positive about starting the new season. It’s always hard to start a new collection though, you just have to keep working and working until something happens, and you’re inspired.
LULA: So has inspiration struck yet… How is your AW08 collection coming along?
Christopher: Oh it’s coming along alright…not as fast as I’d want it to though! Days just seem to be passing so quickly, and there’s so much to do in a very short time. Sometimes I start to panic, but the pressure for me is quite useful – when I know I really have to get something done I can just sit down and do it. I’m sure it’s going to happen today – I’ll work out the key look for next season. I’ve got a feeling….
LULA: So you procrastinate until deadline hits…
Christopher: (laughs) yeah I’m pretty half and half I think… at times I work non-stop, then sometimes I really procrastinate, I like to just sit and do nothing, just have a laugh. But this season – Autumn/Winter – is such a short season, so I’ve given myself until next week to get the “golden ticket”…
LULA: As in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a magic ticket…
Christopher: Yes, it could be anything - some amazing dress or trimming, fur, colour, something that will trigger the rest of the collection. I want that to happen soon. I sometimes just kill myself working, and if I don’t the guilt is the worst… even lying in in the morning makes me feel guilty. You could call me Christopher Guilt.
LULA: So how do you get inspired, what inspirations, dreams, references and obsessions are going into your next collection?
Christopher: I never get inspired through research, it always seems to happen in the reverse for me – where while I’ll be looking into one thing, something totally different will jump out at me and inspire me. I find that if you do research then everything you design will start to look like that… I try not to do that, I always like to do things that are completely different, research always seems to come really late in the process for me.
LULA: Growing up did you dream of being a fashion designer… were you always interested in clothing?
Christopher: Yes, It was my calling in life, as a priest would say. Since I can remember it’s what I always wanted to do, a fascination with fashion has always been in me. Now as a fashion designer I wouldn’t want to do anything differently, I think it’s one of the best industries to be in, and with the most amazing and inspiring people – but it can be very hard as well. When I was little I was fascinated with drawing, I would always draw people and their outfits, but maybe in my later teens I became more aware of fashion and what people were wearing.
LULA: And how did your career in fashion begin?
Christopher: I studied at St Martin’s and then did a BA in womenswear, graduating a year and a half ago. I met Anna Wintour and then Donatella Versace who were both amazing and very supportive. I think for me it’s really been a combination of luck and hard work that has seen me attain some success, I’ve had three shows and with each season I’ve had more stockists. We’re a very small company and we want to take it slow and not overstretch ourselves – it’s been a very fast first two years. It’s been a dream come true, it really is quite amazing – you have to pinch yourself when you see Joan Collins and Elton John at the same place as you.
LULA: Where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like… what were you like as a child?
Christopher: I grew up in a village called Newarthill, just outside Glasgow… It was a relatively small village then, it’s a bit bigger now. I wasn’t that sociable really when I was little, I had my mum, sisters and aunties, I was always always surrounded by them, and was happy to be around them. Sometimes I just felt I couldn’t be bothered to get to know other people when I had so many people I liked around me. I used to just sit around eating and watching TV… my mum would spoil me and feed me constantly, so I was quite plump. I’d wear stripey Benetton jumpers – I looked quite weird I think! (laughs).
LULA: So you grew up spoilt and surrounded by ladies!
Christopher: (laughs) yes, surrounded by ladies – that’s always been the case. My brothers and dad were always working… my brothers were a lot older than me. I’m the youngest and my sister Tammy is the second youngest of five siblings. I never really got to know my brothers so well as they were almost always busy and working, but I’ve always been really close to Tammy. I kind of kept myself to myself, I knew who I liked and who I didn’t like, and I loved watching TV and films.
LULA: How is it working on your label with your sister Tammy?
Christopher: It’s great, I think it helps that I’ve known Tammy for 25 years of my life and we are very very close. It’s the most natural thing in the world to work with your family. We can always help each other out and we understand where each other’s coming from, I’m very lucky. We come from the same point of view, and we’re very harsh with our design choices. We have a lot of knowledge when it comes to fashion, and we won’t do something if it has already been done. Change is always good even if it is uncomfortable – we are always up for a challenge, I think it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and create something that makes people think.
LULA: Your unconventional designs are so imaginative, when you were little did you have a wild imagination – have imaginary friends, or believe there were fairies in your garden?
Christopher: I didn’t ever need to think like that because our auntie Sandra was terrified of everything… and that made us scared of everything. I didn’t have a wild imagination in a positive sense… I used to dream about the devil! There’s such a stigma attached to being Catholic, my guilt complex comes out of that, I didn’t like chapel – I was always scared of that. I didn’t like confession boxes or anything like that, I didn’t like priests, I was scared of them too. I didn’t really believe in faries, I did love fantasy films like Neverending Story, but really I preferred to watch Fashion TV.
LULA: you liked real life fantasy – fashion…
Christopher: (laughs) yes definitely, I loved the fantasy of Fashion TV. I would tape fashion TV and watch it slowly and dissect it – I’d watch each episode over and over and would record at what exact time each designer’s collection would come on so I could fast forward to the exact moments I wanted to watch on repeat. It’s pretty weird, but I I didn’t really play games… what I used to like to do was save up money. I used to get pocket money and hoard it… I was a little scrooge! (laughs).
LULA: Having seen you obsess over fashion TV throughout your childhood, how does you mother feel about your success?
Christopher: She really loves it, she’ll come down for a mini holiday and see my London shows. My parents have a great time while I’m stressed out of my bollocks… But that’s fashion, it’s the name of the game. My mum doesn’t really wear my clothing, but she does wear a lot of the jewellery I make with Swarovski… she loves all that sparkly stuff.
LULA: What music or bands were you obsessed with as a teenager… And what music do you listen to now?
Christopher: Honest to God I feel like I was such a boring little shit when I was young! I don’t even really have favourite music, or have any memories of listening to music. The song “Do they know it’s Christmas”, I can remember loving the front cover of that LP. I didn’t have favourite bands as a teenager, maybe because there were all these crap boy bands when I was growing up.
LULA: How would you describe your aesthetic?
Christopher: I suppose it’s a bit of me, my personality does come through quite clearly in some of my designs. I really like to keep changing, to create something totally new each season.
LULA: Do you have a favourite Christopher Kane dress or collection?
Christopher: I really love the neon ‘Lace and Ring’ collection for Spring/Summer 07 – it started my career and I’ll always remember that crucial moment. I’ll always remember the struggle I went through to get to that point. Instantly after the show, I was introduced to Anna Wintour, and then she had me introduced to Donatella who whisked me off to Milan to consult for Versace. My classmates are all doing really well and are happy now, lots of people are working at Lanvin and Louis Vouton… but I was never a backburner, and don’t want to work and work and get no recognition. That’s why I turned down a job at Versace. Sometimes you wonder how those big houses can ever do bad collections; when they have all that money – when we can do a good collection on nothing but hard work and imagination.
LULA: What kind of woman do you imagine – or would you like – to wear your dresses, and where to?
Christopher: My dresses are for a woman who speaks her own mind, is outspoken and their own person, they can be worn anywhere - to the opera, a tea party, a discotheque… A bombshell Like Carine Roitfeld is my ideal woman to dress because she's sexy and intelligent. She has worn my clothing really well, I love to see people like her, who can wear a bin bag and look hot, wear my dresses. I’d love to dress Sissy Spacek if I could, when she was in her ‘Carrie’ days… when she was young she would have been the perfect Prada girl. I’d love to keep dressing Beth, she’s such a great personality and has an amazing voice – she’s the kind of woman who impresses and doesn’t even seem to try. In general I’m really anti the celebrity thing… I’m not a fan of giving dresses to celebrities for free, they can afford to buy them!
LULA: If you were’nt a fashion designer, how would you be spending your time?
Christopher: I’ve never wanted to do anything else… I’d probably still be working in fashion in some way, if not the head then a dog’s body just to be a part of it.
LULA: Any exciting plans on the horizon?
Christopher: With the next collection, it will definitely be a big change from Spring/Summer 08… I’m going to push it further. I;m not sure how yet, but I’ll know when the earthquake hits – I’ve got the fear now so I’m looking for inspiration! I’m determined to have another great collection, even though it is such a short season… I don’t want to disappoint anybody that’s been supporting me. I would love to go away after Paris sales and have a well deserved rest, I’d love to visit Tokyo. I love it there, we went to the Japanese countryside recently and went to an onsen, it was so beautiful. I’d love to go there and chill out, or go to the beach in Mexico and just relax… And not feel guilty because it’s well deserved! Well, we’ll see what the new year brings…