Since launching her eponymous label in 2016, Bárbara Sánchez-Kane has tantalized the fashion industry. The 36-year-old artist, who alternatively uses she/he pronouns, has made a name for herself with provocative runway shows, brimming with experimental, often surrealist or political designs that lampoon Mexican stereotypes. This season, however, she has abandoned the traditional fashion week calendar to carve out her own path. ‘The fashion system was not working for me,’ Sánchez-Kane says of both the constant pressure to churn out collections (and the resulting environmental toll), as well as the traditional division between mens- and womenswear. Instead, the Mexico City-based artist has increasingly turned to gallery and performance spaces.
This month, Sánchez-Kane will have her first New York solo show at Mexican gallery kurimanzutto’s Chelsea outpost, which opened in 2022. Titled ‘New Lexicons for Embodiment’, the exhibition examines clothing as a powerful vehicle for self-expression that influences decisions in our daily lives in more ways than we know. Gender fluidity is at the fore of her designs – her ‘macho sentimental’ ethos, for which she has become celebrated, subverts Mexican machismo by embracing peoples’ feminine and masculine sides. However, it isn’t the focus of the New York show. ‘A lot of times my work is reduced to queer or gender issues, but there is more to it than that,’ she says. ‘I mean, I’m not just a queer person, I’m so many other things, and so I want people to question their relationship with clothing, not necessarily in regard to their gender or sexual identity only, or fast fashion or capitalism, but rather through the ways in which we confront the world through the objects around us and what do they mean to us.’ Sánchez-Kane says much of her work boils down to ‘confrontation of and with the body’: ‘how do I drape it? How do I carry it? How do I hide it? What should be seen?