SCARY MONSTERS AND SUPER CREEPS
Posted on February 17, 2013 by Teresa Cannata'
I’m a total rookie (or a failure, as you wish) when it comes to writing about menswear. It’s a contradiction because I’ve admired men’s clothes since I was a child: my father worked as a tailor when he was a teenager and some of his friends still do that job. Tailoring techniques, pattern-making and the selection of fabrics are like the ingredients of something magic.
I may not be an expert, but I am surely able to appreciate originality. This, combined to pop culture, never fails to impress me. It’s what has happened with the autumn/winter 2013 collection by Christopher Kane, who paid homage to four legendary characters of horror movies and literature – the Mummy, Dracula, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and the Frankenstein monster. This stylish homage has caught me by surprise, and for this reason I’ve enjoyed it so much.
The aforementioned characters embellish long and short-sleeved t-shirts and a hoodie, worn with skinny jeans or tailored pants, Chelsea boots or velvet slippers, sailor jackets or printed coats. The monochromatic outfits I’ve selected here are far from being dull or boring; on the contrary, they introduce a subtle and youthful refinement into men’s fashion.
The four characters are portrayed as they appeared in famous movies. Boris Karloff is featured twice; he appears hidden under the wrinkled make-up of the Mummy on a white t-shirt. Karloff played the role of the Egyptian prince Imhotep in the 1932 movie by Karl Freund, a “monster” coming from another time, who is trying to achieve the romantic dream of reuniting with his lover, now reincarnated in a young woman. Another amazing character used by Kane is Dracula, the romantic yet ruthless Transylvanian count: created by Bram Stoker in the late 1890s, he found his best cinematic version in Bela Lugosi, who played this role for the first time in 1931.
Creature from the Black Lagoon by Jack Arnold is from a different period (it was released in 1954) and was based on an adventure/scientific story – an amphibious humanoid captured and eventually killed by a team of scientists. The terrifying head of the monster, characterised by gills, fixed eyes, no nose and menacing teeth, was invented by Millicent Patrick (a Disney animator) and sculpted by Chris Mueller Jr.
Last but not least, Boris Karloff again as the Frankenstein monster in the 1931 movie by James Whale. The character created by Mary Shelley (her novel was first published in anonymous form in 1818) has appeared in many movies, but Karloff and the make-up artist Jack Pierce turned him into a horror icon. The flat head and the bolted neck, not to mention his super-heavy and bulky shoes, are just the external signs of a tragic character, a man created out of corpses, an experiment who forces the audience to question themselves about the boundaries of human ambition and science.
The same character appeared on two tops in Christopher Kane spring/summer 2013 women’s collection. In this case, bright colours and summery materials were used, but I like to see how the same theme can be adapted to different collections.
If you take a look at the rest of the collection, you’ll see the characters have been turned into colourful graphics on sweaters and cardigans, stylised versions of the beautiful prints we’ve just analyzed.
I may be partial, because I admire Kane so much, but I’ve really fallen in love with these tees, a rare example of men’s clothing which I wouldn’t mind wearing myself.