LONDON, United Kingdom — A man made of glass: that was the extreme, sci-fi-ish image that lingered long after Craig Green’s remarkable show on Monday morning. Male fragility has been a Green theme from the beginning. At the same time, he’s always been committed to showing that emotion doesn’t mean weakness.
The designer’s latest show notes referred to “Fragile icons of symbolic strength." His glass men were actually wrapped in “obsessively elasticated” plastic, with a bubble-wrap effect, “like fish or dragon scales," said Green. He liked the notion of something that lasts forever reconfigured as ephemeral beauty.
It’s precisely that everlastingness which has made plastic the bane of modern times, but here it was alchemized into sweetness and light, like a dish of Venetian glass candies. (“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” the poet John Keats once told us. That’s the kind of everlasting we can live with.)
Alchemy is Green’s secret weapon. He’s a past master of the magical transformation. His show opened with layered tailoring that had a chic new edge for him. The lining reversed so that when you turned a jacket inside it, you could wear it as a smock. Green's signature utility made smart.
The finale was a sequence of hooded coats. From the front, the models were sober, monochrome samurai. Then they turned to reveal a glory of graphics. “Everything is so front-facing now,” he explained. “I like the idea you had to be at the show to see those images.” Keeping it real in the physical world, in other words.
Green’s work is thoroughly grounded in its physicality. This collection starred side-slit tartan caftans, tops and skirts in lumberjack checks, torsos wreathed in unravelling tapes of crochet (“a peeling cocoon," he called it), more crochet and net sheathing bodies. This is the design language he has created for himself, sturdy in its substance, oddly delicate in its effect.
There was serenity too, in the pure white seersucker outfits that followed the exploding plastic inevitable on the catwalk. Green has already proved himself a consummate showman in the way he animates his dialogues between spirit and flesh. Here, he outdid himself, with the able assistance of stylist Robbie Spencer and soundtrackist Fred Sanchez. We could all wish for someone who would score our own lives with a mix of such epic, emotional sweep.