Craig Green Cherishes Memories Past at London Collections: Men AW16

Perhaps the most exciting "thing" happening in the London menswear scene at the moment is Craig Green. An already outstanding achievement for someone only having graduated in 2012, of course from the prestigious Central Saint Martins MA. Not forgetting this is only his fourth solo show (Craig also shown three seasons with MAN), his first bringing an audience of press, buyers and generally fashion's elite reduced to tears. Impressive. Earlier this year Craig was selected to have some pieces be part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and at London's Victoria and Albert Museum and won "Dress of the Year" which for a menswear designer is brilliant. Not that gender plays a major role in his brand, because some pieces look better on women, Green has said in the past. As far as I'm aware from all the interviews I've read and watched about Craig, in all of them he comes across as just this really nice guy with a clear, humble vision for his brand. It's really emotional seeing him doing so well and the fact he's a missive deal is honestly rather touching. He almost makes anything seem possible, providing you put in the hours that is and coming from a fashion student like myself, it's a really refreshing thought. 

Craig Green has always had this concept of togetherness and unity in his collections, especially when it comes to his boys. He's consistent but far from predictable. And it wasn't the first time Craig had looked to protection as a starting point, in the past he had structures made to protect the body in forms of wood and cardboard (remember fence face?), this time the focus was purely on the clothes. For Autumn/Winter 2016 he was looking at various guises, whether that being a storm jacket with the hood pulled tightly around the face or soft, intricately quilted silks that acted as comforting bedsheets. He had also developed his love for constraint and freedom of the body, which proved so well in past collections. This idea of tailoring each individual garment yourself, whether its by nipping in at the waist or tightening the cuff around your ankle, it's clever and thoughtful design. In fact if I remember correctly, I think in the past it's been described as like IKEA "flat-pack" design. 

The word "cult" springs to mind every season, but not in a bad way or anything, in ways like a community. A family. Each season, presented as uniform with a reinterpretation of a simple workwear jacket, in ways that isn't real life. By this I mean, fantasy. I recall watching an interview or a studio visit if you will (with Crane tv) in which Craig states "I don't want to go and see a show about real life, I don't think anyone does really," later followed by "There has to be an element of fantasy, even if it's like a series show". That is some of the best advice I've had when designing, something I'll forever keep with me. Like in Friday's show and all previous shows for that matter, this element of fantasy was relevant and executed to sort of undone perfection. If you follow me on Instagram (you should) I referred to the opening look as "My modern knight in shining armour" which again referred to this idea of uniform and imagined protection. It's not real medieval armour made from plate metal, but on an subconscious level it felt like it was. That's just one of the many joys when it comes to Craig Green's masterpieces. 

Craig Green pushed the boundaries in terms of fabric, in the sense that he has never before used leather or PVC but incorporated both in a mature way that fitted his aesthetic. But from the offset, there was a more natural/earthiness to the pieces, colour-wise. Various tones of dusty sands and namesake khaki greens took immediate effect on the mood of the collection, again thinking back to its initial intention of protection of the body. The khaki ones being in the form of a version of Craig's safari jacket. It was also relevant in the sandstorm-worthy hoods. Colours representative of canvas or calico, reminiscent of his graduate collection. His ability to look back to his archives after so soon was one of the bigger issues with fashion-insiders in regards to Craig's last collection, but I feel that is exactly how you build your business, take your best pieces and re-invent and develop them further. It's a rather magical and celebratory feeling knowing he's already capable of doing so. This collection like his last had elements of his previous work, but at the same time was completely different. The luggage-type bags that dragged along the floor also made be flashback to his MA show. The leather and PVC pieces were like I said the element of surprise (as were the stripes). They were famously hanging from the body, strung together with straps likes laces on a shoe. Speaking of shoes, the childlike innocence of Craig Green's boys trickled down to the primary school P.E. kit pumps. The collection cherished past memories, in fact it embraced them. The garments offered a worn-in feel, wear and tear amongst other tarnishing and washing techniques. A hand-me-down as oppose to box-fresh. It felt real and genuine on more levels than one and another tremendous segment to an ever-expanding, ever-evolving Craig Green.

Images courtesy of Vogue Runway and Dazed Digital

That is it for another edition of The Wolf of High Street join me back tomorrow for more menswear coverage from London, try Christopher Shannon and from Friday, the two other MAN designers, newcomers Grace Wales Bonner and Charles Jeffrey. Goodbye for now.

The Wolf of High Street