A prediction: come spring, what you wear will matter less than how you wear it – specifically, with a smile. A celebratory mood of optimism and joy swept across the S/S ’20 catwalks when designers showcased their new season collections in September – from twirling models at Deveaux and Issey Miyake to dopamine-inducing clothes at Marc Jacobs and Valentino and, yes, Jennifer Lopez making a catwalk appearance at Versace. Whether your definition of happy style is about clothes that are comfortable, cool or conscious, fashion will be in high spirits by spring, from the high street to high-end brands.
But why wait until next season? It’s an attitude Christopher Kane has always championed, never afraid to raise a smile with his love of the unexpected and ugly.
In his world, the daring coexists with the domestic, the sweet with the subversive. In 13 years of his brand, he’s made must-haves of decorative Crocs, gel-filled accessories and rubber gloves. It’s feel-good fashion at its weirdest, wildest and most wonderful.
But Christopher isn’t afraid to do obvious, too. Over the past year ‘More Joy’ has become an accidental slogan for the brand, thanks to the merch that sprung out of his A/W ’18 collection, which borrowed text and illustrations from 1972’s erotic manual The Joy Of Sex. Graphic T-shirts and towels emblazoned with the words ‘More Joy’, ‘Sex’ and ‘Special’ became an Instagram hit over the summer. ‘From that moment “More Joy” became a daily mantra for us,’ explains Christopher, sitting in his Dalston studio. ‘For me, it’s finding joy in everything.’
‘It means something to us,’ adds Tammy Kane, Christopher’s older sister, right-hand woman, long-time collaborator and biggest champion. ‘It’s a little moment to pause and go, “Yeah! More Joy!”, you know? Being in the moment, remembering what you’ve got, just being grateful.’
Right now, what the Kanes are grateful for is nights in. ‘It’s the new luxury,’ says mum-of-two Tammy. ‘If I can be in bed at 8.30pm with the girls, that’s the dream. Bliss!’ Hence the new collection includes everything you’d need to hibernate – silk pyjamas, blankets, hot water bottles, eye masks and mugs… whether that night looks restorative or raunchy is down to you.
As charming as joyfulness and optimism are, they are also pertinent statements for now. ‘These are uncertain times, scary times,’ says Tammy. ‘But when you wear [something from the More Joy collection] you feel like you’re shining out something.’ ‘You’re sending out good messages,’ adds Christopher. ‘I think history has proven that, in uncertain times, you have to be the most radical you can be.’ It’s a powerful statement of intent to take into 2020.
The second collection, which will be available at a pop-up opening this week at Shoreditch’s Ace Hotel (Christopher also designed the Christmas tree for the hotel’s Hoi Polloi restaurant), is timed perfectly to coincide with the festive season – Christmas cards sold in aid of the Whitechapel Mission homeless charity will also be available. Not surprisingly, their Christmas shopping is sorted. ‘Aunty Sandra’s going to be in Sex pyjamas,’ laughs Christopher. And with the collection starting at £15, these are likely the most inclusive designer stocking stuffers you will find. ‘The price point is completely different to the mainline. It’s not a serious thing, it should radiate fun and cheekiness.’
The essence of how Christopher wants people to feel in his designs – ‘powerful, empowered’ – remains the same for socks, a T-shirt or eye mask as it does a £2,000 dress. ‘“Powerful” is a big word to use for just a T-shirt, but it can be,’ says Tammy. ‘You feel confident, and the clothes should always make you feel like that.’ Certainly,
it’s hard to wear a tee emblazoned with the words More Joy with a scowl; the ones with Sex pronounced on the front should never be worn with an apologetic demeanour. ‘That T-shirt has magic powers, believe me,’ winks Christopher.
So what does ‘joy’ mean to the Kane siblings? ‘Being free,’ they say in unison. ‘Being creatively free, being sexually free, being in charge of your own destiny,’ elaborates Tammy. Christopher has always admired the Albert Einstein quote ‘imagination is everything’. ‘I never want to let go of that. I’ll always want to be a child and think that I can do anything I want and that’s OK. And that is joy to me.’
‘I don’t think we could live with ourselves if we took ourselves too seriously,’ he continues. ‘I think in an industry that is so full of all the hot air, me and Tammy have always felt like outsiders – genuinely – and we like that feeling, we’ll always remain that way because why not? I think that’s how we prevail. We don’t follow trends, we don’t do what people tell us to do. That is liberating in itself, we got here solely because of us – no one else.’ Doing things your own way: what could be more joyful than that?
From £15, christopherkane.com. The More Joy pop-up at Ace Hotel Shoreditch opens 21 November