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Christopher Kane’s Show at London Fashion Week was Inspired by Balloon Fetishists

Yes, it’s exactly what it sound like.

Wet and messy: two words that aren’t often reached for in my fashion writer’s vocabulary, and yet they’re the two most important words to understanding the inspiration behind Christopher Kane’s garish-yet-elegant (trust me) F/W 2019 collection.

No stranger to incorporating sexual themes into his work (remember last year’s collection inspired by bored housewives discovering The Joy of Sex?), Kane drew inspiration from the world of sploshers and looners to inform his F/W 2019 collection. If those terms ring unfamiliar, a splosher is someone whose sexual fetish involves smearing wet substances like food on the body, and looners get off on fondling – and sometimes popping – balloons. (If this cursory definition makes you the least bit curious, may I suggest this VICE video as a starting point?)

The field of fashion has long drawn inspiration from seedy sexual subjects. Vivienne Westwood is considered the pioneer of bringing bondage wear into a fashion context with the rubber designs she sold in her 1970s shop SEX, but drawing inspiration from something as transgressive as balloon fetishists certainly feels new.

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“We always do sexy very differently [than] anyone else,” Kane told WWD. “We do that undertone because we are both pretty weird.” (The royal ‘we’ refers to himself and his sister Tammy, who helps him run the business.)

Perhaps the strangest thing about this collection is that it’s actually not very weird at all. Blouses and bubble skirts are printed with what appears to be a celestial theme, and it is only upon closer inspection that once can discern the spheres are actually balloons. Other garments feature a more straightforward balloon print but it rings more “kids birthday party” than freaky fetish. To be sure, there are dresses bearing the slogans “rubberist” and “looner,” but that’s about as literal as it gets. The most exciting element of the collection are the splooshy accessories that resemble lava lamps, which I envision really taking off once they’re available on the market.

All things considered, it’s probably the least horny collection ever inspired by multiple sexual fetishes.