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Craig Green, King in London

At London’s tentpole show, staples took their place alongside militarily-precise utility wear and more mystical human tents — evidence that Green’s unique magic is opening out.
By
  • Tim Blanks

LONDON, United Kingdom — The ongoing cull at London Fashion Week: Men has left Craig Green in the position of being the event's tentpole designer. With his business barely five years old, that would be peculiar in other fashion capitals with their entrenched hierarchies, but Green's pre-eminence testifies to the volatility and the immediacy of the creative environment in London. What makes it great, in other words. Even better that Green, for all his own quiet bashfulness, produces work that roars with individuality. It wears its figurehead status well. And it seems to only get better.

For a while back there, there was a run of shows that was a little worrying, like Green was falling into a dystopian rut, (“romanticizing the past”, he called it). Last season, he dispelled the gloom with soaring colour and vibrant pattern, entering the unknown for him. “That show and this new one are about the present,” he explained on Monday morning. “And the idea of not knowing.” It’s often said that ignorance is bliss. In Green’s case, “not knowing” yielded another superb collection.

He reanimated the shields, or mobiles, or kites, or whatever you want to call them, that his models have carried since his graduate collection, this time as drapes of latex mounted on springy branches of willow, with weights (actually latex-draped tennis balls) bouncing on either side. There was a playful naiveté  to these things. "Like seeing something from another culture and trying to recreate it without ever knowing what it was made of," Green said. Along the same lines, there were cabled woolen life-preservers in this collection, their function defeated by their fabrication.

Green compared his mobiles to something a kid might make, but he also hinted at a more serious purpose for them. As long as he had them in a show, under cover of the arcane he could get away with showing much more basic items, like jeans and t-shirts. Sure enough, such staples were on his catwalk on Monday morning, starting with the opening look of white shirt, black pants and the solid footwear that was the the first fruit of Green's new collaboration with Grenson. It was followed by the militarily precise utilitywear that was the designer's original signature, but then tone and texture took over, and Green's magic exerted its unique sway. Human tents, patterned after Celtic flags…mystical, swirling clothes that looked like they were about to lift off…a particularly dazzling use of primary colours. At one time, Green's designs were powerful because of their uncompromisingly hermetic nature, like the uniforms of a closed community (the fashion cult you were dying to join). Now he has opened everything out, embraced a new energy. There is celebration where once there was uncertainty. And that's why Craig is king in London.

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