Kane ’03 Connects Fashion to History

Matt Kane ’03 has a unique sense of style. In the sea of trends on campus, his clothing and designs stand out as artistic personal statements reflecting current and historical inspirations. Recently, Kane has completed an Abbot Scholars project in which he designed his own clothing line, incorporating the trends and innovations of decades past. Phillipian: What is your Abbot Scholars project? Matt Kane: My project is about the history of fashion and how it relates to how designers create now. During winter term, I chose five decades that were of the most interest to me stylistically. From there I researched each time period and distilled each decade to it’s basic principles. From there I designed an ensemble that took the design elements that made that period unique and modernized them. Each outfit is extremely wearable and could be sold in stores now. The goal is to show how much of fashion is really influenced by history. My presentation will mainly focus on showing my creative process from start to finish. I will show the dresses, talk about where my inspiration came from, and have a display with sketches of the designs. Phillipian: What in this topic inspired you? MK: I find it interesting how fashion, was a direct result of historical events. The reasons for different styles were rooted in the practical. As times have changed so have we, and now what we wear is completely variable. We have the luxury now of viewing dressing as a manifestation of personal expression. Ironically, half-way through the project, I became frustrated upon realizing how few real world designers actually devote themselves to creating new styles, rather than rehashing old ones. Nonetheless, I feel that my designs are original and unique, regardless of historical influences. Phillipian: When did you start getting involved with fashion? Why? MK: It started four years ago with my interest in how I dressed, and turned into a complete fascination with fashion as an art. There is no element of fashion that I don’t find intriguing: the psychology and marketing behind it, the actual fabrication of each garment, the effect appearance can have on people. I have been making sketches for the past two years. I have a unique fashion sense; it blends the flexibility and creativity of the women’s fashion world with the rigidity of the men’s fashion world. I very definitely don’t dress like other men. Phillipian: Do you have role models at PA or in the fashion world? MK: I think that there really are two types of fashion designers: those who are able to make relevant dated styles, and those that are able to creative and be a forward-thinker. The most successful designers are the former: Marc Jacobs, Miuccia Prada and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. Their clothes are exactly what people would expect and are comfortable with. They design things that are familiar, but in a new way. The real visionaries are able to make this present day a historical time, setting new precedents and reaching beyond what we know. Designers such as Dries Van Noten, Tom Ford for Gucci and Jil Sander in her early years. Modernity is as powerful as nostalgia, I believe. Here at PA, I am really attracted to people who dress for themselves. The people who strike me the most are those that do not follow trends, perhaps aren’t terribly stylish, but are able to make it their own. Knowing what works for you is so important, and those people are the ones that inspire me. Phillipian: What part of the fashion process do you enjoy most? MK: I must say that I am quite tired of actually making the clothes. It is an extremely difficult process that gives you a lot of respect for the people who make your clothes so perfectly. Truly, sewing is an art in and of itself. I really enjoy designing clothes with specific people in mind. I work best when given parameters, and I really do believe that fashion is a personal thing. Without that personal aspect, fashion is just fabric. Now that I have the tools to actually create what I envision, I am more inspired than ever to make dresses for friends. In fact, I am making friend and fellow Abbot Scholar Woodney Haverstick’s prom dress. Phillipian: Do you plan to pursue your interest? If yes, how? MK: I did not apply to any design schools, but fashion will definitely be part of my future. Even if I choose not to design, I would love to be involved in fashion journalism or the business end of things (i.e. buying for a department store). For now, I want to pursue other things, but continue to develop my talent through projects like this one Phillipian: Do you think the Abbot Scholars program was a good forum to explore your interests and expand upon your talent? MK: The Abbot Scholar Program was a great way for me to try something new. I had very little confidence going in, but having the support of the other scholars and Mr. Bardo, Ms. Trespas and Dr. Moore really made a difference. It was a great opportunity to study something that wasn’t offered in the course of study.