Craig Green at Pitti: crime scene in a Tuscan garden
A Rashomon moment by Craig Green at Pitti, about the relativity of truth and how different people can recall the same incident – especially if it’s a crime – in fundamentally different ways.
He’s the reigning conceptualist menswear designer in London these past few years. In Britain, he often shows under the dank brick arches of a railway line in south London. In Italy, he took his audience Thursday night to Tuscany’s most famous park – the Boboli Gardens above Florence.
“I wanted to take a very known and beautiful Florentine location and give it our own darker twist. Like a crime scene really,” smiled Green post show in a corner of a dark wood.
Green opened with what he called “modern angels”, models in surgical smocks, finished with climbing ropes and ties; then attached wooden frames to several of these hospital staff, like surreal halos or silhouettes.
“I was thinking of the way the police draw chalk outlines of dead bodies after an unsolved murder,” he chuckled mischievously.
Where many of Florence’s greatest building are known for their strict symmetry, the Boboli is better characterized as raw and natural.
The collection marked the first time a designer had shown in Boboli since Gucci began its two-million-euro revamp of the gardens.
A year ago in London, Green showed immense tunics made of double-ply cotton, multi-stitched together, like 18th-century corsetry – done in abstract floral prints in a shamanic and paradisiacal show. While in June 2016, he presented a group of Himalayan nomads in padded jackets and blankets cut into long pareos, topped by faux ski caps; and a quartet of Nepalese-style wanderers in matelassé Mao jackets and trousers cut up to the thigh. He called that collection “uncharted pilgrimage.”
But in the Boboli he showed plissé combinations overprinted with graphic outlines, somewhat like the way statues are framed by the surrounding hedges in this garden. His finale was tremendous – offbeat triple-printed funky caftans that will be must-have items for fashionistas – an idea that will spawn a thousand copies. The show also unveiled Green’s latest hook-up. A series of five sneaker and techy fabric looks – interwoven, almost seaweed like tops – all made in collaboration with Nike.
Showing in Pitti marks a defining moment in the career of any young designer; the fashion equivalent of being given a marshal’s baton.
Besides his truly avant garde London runway ideas, Green also produces a core collection of more practical everyday pieces, which now represent 75% of the revenues of his fledgling house. After Florence, Green will head to Paris where he will personally manage the sales in his French showroom.
Green has also been busy in Milan. In February he was one of seven designers chosen to work on the Moncler Genius Building project. In September, he is due to unveil his second series of Genius ideas. He has also developed a line of shoes with UK resource Grenson, with soles featuring toy soldier molds.
Outside of fashion, he has designed the costumes for Ridley Scott’s film Alien: Covenant, released last year. These were based on his 2015 collection of twisted jersey and funky long johns.
Born in London, Green was marked out for greatness early on – winning the British Fashion Men’s Wear Designer award in 2016, four years after graduating from Central Saint Martins. He has also been an LVMH Prize finalist.
His clothes now sell everywhere from Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman in NYC to Dover Street Market, Galeries Lafayette and Mr Porter.
Unlike most young designers invited to stage in Florence, Green did not give a traditional preview to Italian newspaper critics – a major force here. Indeed, his ideas seem to evolve right up to the last minute before any show.
His ideas have already been included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibitions "China: Through the Looking Glass” and “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic imagination”.
These looks will have their day in museums too. In short, a twisted fashion triumph in Florence by a much admired London artist.
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