DRESS OF THE YEAR 2013

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A sugar pink organza dress decorated with crystal, lace and black sticking tape by British designer Christopher Kane has been unveiled as Dress of the Year 2013 at the Fashion Museum in Bath. The dress has been selected by Susanna Lau, aka fashion blogger Susie Style Bubble.

“It’s a huge honour to be selected for the Dress of the Year award,” says Kane, “the dress means so much to me. It’s a really good mixture of both tough and sweet. It’s a remarkable dress chosen by a remarkable woman.”

Miss Lau said earlier: “I chose Christopher Kane’s dress from his Spring/Summer 2013 collection because to me, he is one of the most exciting and brilliant designers to have emerged from London Fashion Week. London has risen up in the ranks of fashion capitals, as a hotbed of aesthetically diverse creative talent and Christopher has been the roaring success story. He manages to take the most unexpected elements and make them work in collections that then define seasons. Spring/Summer 2013 saw Kane take on Frankenstein. Crystals, black gaffer tape and white lace shouldn’t sit well with one another but the juxtaposition somehow come off as harmonious.”

To accompany the dress, which is modelled on a mannequin made-over exclusively by Adel Rootstein to resemble the blogger known for her stylish selfies, Lau has also chosen accessories by two cult British designers who have also contributed to the triumphant London fashion scene – unconventional milliner Nasir Mazhar, who has now segued into designing street-inspired ready-to-wear and quirky shoe designer Sophia Webster.

When Scotsman Christopher Kane was asked to explain how he came up with his Spring/Summer 2013 collection he was typically modest. “I don’t really know why or how it came together. It was by chance,” he said.

The collection included snow white leather biker jackets embossed with flowers, cream, pink and primrose crepe dresses and tailoring secured with ice clear plastic nuts and bolts instead of buttons, 1950s pencil skirted silhouettes and girlish details such as bows, waffle pleats and frills of plastic ribbon. The finale was a series of organza suits and dresses (including this one) decorated with crystal, lace and black sticking tape.

Kane’s catwalk is a laboratory of ideas (he has been called the Willy Wonka of fashion), and with this collection he continued to stitch together seemingly unlikely, oddball ideas. This was best exemplified by the inclusion of Frankenstein monster photo print that featured on a lavender coloured T-shirt worn with a rubber pencil skirt.

Kane has always produced eye-catching, provocative designs. His 2006 Central Saint Martin’s graduation collection of neon bright body con dresses earned him the attention of Donatella Versace. Other inspiration has included Planet of the Apes, Princess Margaret, Lady Jane Grey, coffins and textbooks.

When this Spring/Summer 2013 collection was unveiled at London Fashion Week an exhibition dedicated to Punk was being assembled at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (it opened in May 2013 when this dress was hanging on the rack in store). The original punk aesthetic showcased a mix of synthetic fabrics including plastic, PVC and rubber and purposefully damaged and destroyed finishing. Kane is a designer who likes to question the notion of what is considered chic and push fashion forward. Or as he said backstage after the show, “I loved the idea of sweet, sickly sweet.”

The Dress of the Year scheme was started in 1963 by Fashion Museum, Bath founder Doris Langley Moore. Each year a member of the fashion industry is invited to nominate an ensemble that they believe encapsulates the mood of fashion for that particular year – selectors have included Suzy Menkes, Grace Coddington, Hamish Bowles, Felicity Green and Stephen Jones. The inaugural selection featured a grey tweed ‘Rex Harrison’ button-through waistcoat dress worn over a cream silk pussy bow blouse, both by Mary Quant. In 1998 I chose a black knitted ensemble by French designer Sonia Rykiel.

Christopher Kane joins the DOTY Hall of Fame that includes Ossie Clark, Alexander McQueen, Miuccia Prada, Vivienne Westwood, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Donatella Versace, Donna Karan, Jean Paul Gaultier, Raf Simons for Dior and Jean Muir.

A new book, Dress of the Year, dedicated to the Fashion Museum’s unique collection, written by Richard Lester, will be published later in the year (ACC Editions).

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