LONDON, United Kingdom — Edward Crutchley’s nine-season career has so far featured some pretty riveting visuals — dark, pagan, hybrid. Sign of the times: the print master said he was feeling even darker for Spring 2019. He collaborated with his artist friend Lucien Murat on imagery whose apocalyptic, kitschy chaos echoed the work of the Chapman Brothers, onetime collaborators at Louis Vuitton with Crutchley’s mentor Kim Jones, who was front row on Saturday afternoon.
But you had to get close to see the details of rabid dogs and crashing planes. From a distance, you might simply have been looking at gorgeous Japanese silks, or Javanese court extravaganza, the gamelan music on the soundtrack an aural cue.
That fitted very well with Crutchley’s undying appetite for the elegance of Asian traditions. The “shape and drape” that were the keynotes of his new collection worked equally well for men and women, but it was the designer’s fabric research that stood out as truly spectacular (Jones was an excellent tutor in that respect).
The combination of centuries-old Japanese hand-painting and high resolution ink jet in a single print was old and new in a way that felt very timely. His mohair/merino blends came from an English mill that has been weaving fabric since the 16th century but, again with the now, they were used in casually oversized tailoring that had, at times, an extreme sports feel (as in, martial arts). So did the handful of urban-ninja-ready pieces cut from a black-lacquered micro fibre nylon.
Crutchley has quietly established himself as a potential heir to the drama queens like Galliano and McQueen who once made London fashion so unstoppable. Underline “potential”. He may prefer to maintain his vision at its current modest level. Still, a higher profile is all but inescapable. This week, Crutchley was announced as a semi-finalist for the 2018/19 Woolmark Prize. And he is definitely reaching.The shownotes indicated that he is the first designer outside Japan to use a new seamless knitting technology that yields intricate textures. Blurb aside, the pieces themselves were winningly wonderful.