Craig Green’s Paris debut proposes deconstructed straitjackets as supple protection. The clothes deserve all the accolades
One of London’s most original voices, Craig Green has decamped for Paris, the city every designer worth his salt gravitates to. He must know he’s ready to show alongside the city’s biggest names. Since his debut in 2015, Mr Green has been widely praised as a boy wonder of British men’s wear. And his climb has been, for the lack of better word, meteoric. He won British Menswear Designer thrice: in 2016, 2017, 2018. His designs, often not constricted and are sometimes inspired by Asian garbs such as the kimono and even monks robes, have influenced both emerging and established designers, including Virgil Abloh and, closer home, Amos Ananda Yeo.
For his first show outside London (excluding the Pitti Uomo presentation for spring/summer 2019), Mr Green offered a striking, confident, and forward collection, infused with every element one has come to associate with the label: relaxed shapes, unexpected quilting, and de rigueur free-to-flap straps, cords, and laces. Some of the horizontally quilted pieces look like bibs that, with straps, can be worn up and down the torso, in some cases under abbreviated knitted vests, and with what appear to be waist bags—similarly supple and padded. While, as a whole, there is newness (certainly against the tailoring that is pervading the other Paris collections), there is also classic Craig Green and, to us, not entirely surprising. That’s not a negative, but a nod to the clear DNA, defined enough for the brand to show abroad.
Just as we thought Mr Green could not outdo himself any further after the first six ensembles that no doubt reach out to fans, he sent out tops (we can’t think of a name for them: shells?) that seem assembled by more straps and cords. A couple had smocked fronts, flanked by ruffles! Then, some compositions that look like they’re more suited to a window appear. In fact, these are ingenious outerwear composed of quilted pieces and padded panels that appear corded together and can be adjusted, we assume, for different visual effects.
Then, as if to confuse the viewer that this may not be an A/W collection, some vaguely futuristic, ropey mesh tops emerge, worn over bare skin, with sort of a filigree front that will surely intrigue the most dexterous boy scout. Mr Green likes doing things to fabrics. There are patchworks of symmetrical geometric shapes formed up as scrub-like tops and matching bottoms. Striking and easy to like, too, are the tunic tops and bottoms paired to yield a single, oversized flower running down the full-length of the garments. Just as remarkable are those outers that appear to be collages of pieces of rainwear and assorted bags!
The final last four sets are akin to installation art, which is not at all alien to Mr Green’s hitherto 12 runway collections. Reportedly, the present is the final of a three-parter, exploring the idea of ‘skin’, which, as we see, need not adhere to the body. This quartet of indescribable clothes that seem destined for some design museum very soon, and has more in common with kites (an idea previously explored) than apparel illustrates Mr Green’s mastery at re-imagining what can be constructed and sewn. He applies the gossamer fabrics as deftly as a a master sculptor working with gold leaf: nothing appears to have fixed placement. And the resultant colours have a painterly quality about them. It isn’t clear if these would be bought and worn since they could be mistaken for a fancy food cover, but they’re fascinating to look at.
In Paris, a portentous year of the demise of what Supreme has been touting for close to a decade, Mr Green continues to offer clothes that defy categorising. But, if fashion are increasingly either streetwear (dying, remember?) or tailored styles, chances are, the young Londoner’s designs will be lumped with the former. This is, of course, unnecessary and unfair. The fashion world is large enough for either. Craig Green, quilting and padding in place, isn’t even straddling the two.
Photos: Isidore Montag/gorunway.com