Christopher Kane, the British designer who sent models down his runway wearing Crocs a month earlier during Fashion Week, is back with his latest project — a new 33-piece capsule collection in partnership with Eco-Age and Disney for Beauty and Beast, which celebrated its New York premiere on Monday evening.
Although you might expect a yellow gown or a peasant-style navy dress like those oft associated with Belle’s character, Kane’s designs take a more subversive approach. They are inspired by the film’s motifs, like the rose and teacup, rather than a literal interpretation or obvious choices. And as the film shows a darker side of the beloved love story, Kane’s collection plays off of the film’s brooding setting and the Beast’s dark past equally with the film’s strong heroine. Highlights include a gorgeous baby-blue baroque-style coat, a silicon (yes, really) dress, and a beautiful gold-leaf chained necklace featuring lovely charms such as a rose, a teacup, and the letter B.
Yahoo Style spoke with Christopher Kane to learn more about the collaboration.
“So everyone was like, why is there not a yellow dress?” he said. “Well, I think it’s quite the obvious thing to do. I think that every female character you think of in Disney is always in blue, so it’s quite feminist already that she’s not in pink … I wanted to do my take on it. It’s a bit dark, but also the film is kind of a very dark place. It’s very beautiful and very feminine as well, and really tough and confident.”
I asked the designer to explain why he felt a connection to Beauty and the Beast and what made working with this film different than, say, another Disney one. Aside from being a staunch cartoon fan, Kane loved the idea of mixing “fantasy and fashion.” But it was Belle who truly inspired him.
“Belle was such a different character because she wasn’t a princess — a normal girl. It was a very compelling story of how she wanted to get out and do what she felt was right and not [be] stuck in the ways of everyone else. I think it’s so profound in this day and age also because we all need to be radical. So I think it was the perfect match, and … it was a great way of reaching out to new demographics, new customers … and to be more inclusive,” he said.
Reaching a new consumer base was one main component of the collection that Kane explored. However, he also went into the realm of sustainable fashion for the first time. Kane and Disney partnered with sustainable consultancy group Eco-Age, led by founder and creative director Livia Firth (who is married to Colin Firth) to help realize Disney’s sustainable goals in this partnership.
Firth explained, “Because we at Eco-Age are famous for our collaborations with many different designers and we never separate the social justice from the environmental justice, [Disney] approached us and said, ‘Can you help us do this?’” Eco-Age has worked with Sergio Rossi, Stella McCartney, Erdem, and the Kering Group, of which Kane is a part.
But where do Beauty and the Beast and sustainability fall together?
“It’s very interesting, as you say — Beauty and the Beast is the story of a very strong female character,” said Firth. “And if you want to talk about the modern-day princess, [she] is a woman who definitely wants to know where her clothes have been made and what they are made of. We know today that the consumer is changing, and women are starting to pay more and more attention to that, particularly the millennials, the Generation X. … So it was very timely, and I think that it’s what pushed Disney to start this collaboration and to start working with us.”
Through Eco-Age, Disney and Kane were able to create a collection that was validated by the GCC Principles of Sustainable Excellence, a set of principles put forth by Eco-Age to ensure sustainable practices.
In fact, two pieces from the capsule collection — the photographic rose T-shirt and Swiss rose lace dress — were further awarded the GCC Brandmark, which is given after a rigorous process that takes into consideration all “social, ethical and environmental criteria.”
The T-shirt is made of certified organic cotton, and the rose lace dress is made of organic silk. Kane doesn’t believe that sustainability stops at the materials — it’s also about the bigger picture, which includes the supply chains, the mills, the labor used, ultimately to create something that is not wasteful or excessive but beautiful and unique, to be worn many times over, versus once.
“The fact is that it all comes down to the best workmen, craftsmen, and how responsible they are. It’s a true craft, and I like to have a hand feel to every piece of the clothing, so it really means a lot to me instead of the run of the mill,” he said.
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