To try on an item of clothing designed by Bárbara Sánchez-Kane, you must visit the artist in her Mexico City atelier. It was there that I first met her, in May 2021. She greeted me in a red velvet and mirror-lined boudoir, dressed in French cuffs and a pinstripe suit with wide, open lapels, enthroned on a steel chair shaped like two scissoring pairs of women’s legs. The coolly seductive scene was as tailored as her attire. Her seat, for instance, referenced the splayed, high-heeled limbs that form the logo for Sánchez-Kane, the brand she founded in 2016. Nearby, racks and shelves displayed garments whose central details were drolly at odds with the glamour of their surroundings: biker jackets of the finest leather with epaulettes fashioned from cheap coin purses; a corset made of vinyl boxing gloves; shoes with tiny supermarket shopping carts for heels; a pair of molcajetes – stone mortars used for grinding spices – hung like udders inside the fishnet casing around a sombrero. Objects sold on the streets outside made runway ready.
We sat and watched the video for what was then her latest and, to date, most irreverent project: Prêt-à-Patria (2021) – its title a portmanteau of the French term for ready-to-wear fashion (prêt-à-porter) and the Spanish word for homeland (patria). The film follows the members of a Mexican military band as they march across a dusty parade ground, their faces concealed by white sackcloth. With each quarter turn, they expose more of their uniforms, which are cut away at the back to reveal lacy red lingerie.