Return Of The Rockstud

Valentino’s beloved sneaker is back. With the help of Craig Green, it is looking its handsome best

Looks like it is through collaborations that you can create winning products. Valentino’s once-popular Rockstud range of shoes, bags, and accessories has had its halcyon days. In recent years, with the popularity of monograms, old and new, on almost anything, details such as studs have less drawing power. Valentino, aware that their cash cow Rockstud needs a makeover or “re-signification”, as the brand calls it, approached the star British men’s wear designer Craig Green to reimagine the sneaker version as footwear that would appeal to guys who are no longer drawn to a surfeit of fancy hardware on their kicks, such as Christian Louboutin’s once all-the-rage Spikes. Valentino calls this collaboration an era-appropriate “cultural exchange”.

Rockstud is almost a sub-brand in itself, much like Nike’s Jordan. Last year, Valentino celebrated its 10th anniversary with an announcement that they would open the Rockstud to chosen creatives to re-imagine the use of the house detail. Mr Green is the first to come onboard, as the “Rockstud X becomes a white canvas for new imaginary landscapes”, according to a press release at that time. Characterised by mainly metal pyramidal studs, Rockstud was an instant hit for Valentino. It’s introduction in 2010 in the form of heeled footwear was received enthusiastically. The almost punk studs contrasted effectively with Valentino’s usually ultra-feminine styles. And then came the Rockrunner, the kicks that would augment the growing obsession with luxury sneakers throughout the 2010s.

Mr Green has made the limited-edition Rockstud less a stud of a shoe. The upper is in surprisingly humble knit that looks rather perforated. With widely placed lacing, it sits on a rubber base that is almost entirely Rockstudded, except that Mr Green has removed any extraneous hardware and worked the studs (now oversized, and in rows and separated by what could be parentheses) as part of the entire sole, making the silhouette sturdy-looking and well grounded. This must the least flashy iteration of the Rockstud so far, yet it’s easily the Batmobile of shoes!

Valentino X Craig Green Rockstud, USD1,295.00. is available in four colours on valentino.com. Product photo: Valentino

This Is No Green Effort

Craig Green’s first collaboration with Adidas is sure-footed work and possibly one of the Three Stripes’ best ever

 

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By Ray Zhang

Frankly, I would have preferred that Craig Green paired with Nike. There are more interesting silhouettes in Nike’s archive to exploit. The Japanese designers have been especially successful in morphing Nike’s classic kicks into deliciously new shapes. Undercover’s Jun Takahashi, for one. But London’s leading designer chose to work with Adidas. I wonder if Mr Green is himself a Three Stripes or Swoosh wearer.

Perhaps that does not matter. Mr Green’s first output with Adidas is out today. And sneakerheads are understandably excited. One told me that this is a “must-have of 2020”! Fresh from a stunning debut at Paris Fashion Week, Mr Green is establishing himself even more among hypebeasts with, not one but two, sneaker releases (the next collab was already shown earlier in the month in Paris). By the time you read this, they’re probably sold out.

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The collaboration with Adidas Originals (again, staff in the store told me this is a “boutique release”, hence not available at even the flagship store) yields two styles: the CG Kontuur I (top) and CG Kontuur II (above), based on the retro-clean Kamada and flat-bread-looking Ozweego, respectively. I personally do not gravitate to either. If I had to choose, I think I’d go for the CG Kontuur II since I am partial to Raf Simons’s re-interpretations of the Ozweego. But interestingy, it’s the CG Kontuur I that speaks to me. Mr Green’s version sports his love for padded details, and the midnight-blue (they call it navy) upper and black mid-sole combo is especially fetching. That it is an extremely comfortable shoe—although a little too formless—adds to its cyber-geek appeal. Only thing is, I’m quite over chunky sneaks.

“Footwear is like a sculpture,” Mr Green offers through a media release. “There’s so much you can do with sneakers that you can’t do with clothing.” But he is already doing a lot with clothes, I think, sculptural ones too. Sneakers are just part of an expanding universe of merchandise. And I believe I’ve seen the future: with the next Adidas collab, Craig Green’s done a lot of the “so much”, and it is even more enticing. Stay tuned.

Craig Green X Adidas Originals, CG Kontuur 1 and CG Kontuur 2, SGD380, is available at DSMS from today. Photos: Zhao Xiangji

His Soft Armour

Craig Green’s Paris debut proposes deconstructed straitjackets as supple protection. The clothes deserve all the accolades

 

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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.

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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!

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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