There’s immense pressure on Craig Green’s shoulders. It’s easy to forget that he’s just 3 seasons out of MAN, Lulu Kennedy’s group show for bright young grads. He’s got a campaign with Nick Knight under his belt and has recently had his work exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum as part of the China: Through The Looking Glass exhibition. Big things for a designer only just out of Central Saint Martins. So you can forgive him for taking stock and reflecting.
For S/S 16 it felt like Green was both firmly looking forward - he’d included womenswear for the first time - while also looking far back, right to his very earliest work. Those creamy opening looks read like a celebration of the calico and other humble fabrics that have always been the foundation of his work. Indeed, that tone and hue brought back memories of his MA show, as did the orange and yellow colours that appeared later - a surprise in some ways, given Green’s penchant for muted monochrome notes like navy, while and black, but, at the same time, a continuation. It was in the tussle between consistency and progress where the collection worked best - in the way his signature straps and strings had been worked into an open, rugged knit, in the way his classic workwear jackets and wide trousers had been mixed up with multiple colours worn at once and in the way the holes that appeared in the middle of his knits last season had been doubled and placed naughtily on models' breasts. Some tops featured twists of fabric resembling comic cartoon nipples. It was a suitably unexpected emblem for a collection that felt somewhat freer, as if by revisiting his early days Green had got that naive student confidence back. His palette was vibrant, tropical even - all citrus tones and brilliant grass green. Last season's ideas were present in the signature 'structures' that Green tends to include - models held frames with fabric stretched over them in the same bold red that appeared last season and with that same sternum hole cut in them. They felt like ghosts of ideas past.
Green's show notes talked of ‘a sense of possibility.' Indeed, this felt like Green's own exploration of the way his work can be interpreted, changed and developed. By referencing himself and his signatures, which are already so developed for a designer so young, he opened up a conversation about options and about new tones and new genders. Aptly the collection ended with the bright yellow. Brilliant, bold, optimistic - just like Green's future.