Masculinity has recently come to the forefront of social discourse. The long-prevailing “boys will be boys” ethos continues to cultivate bad behavior, and people are beginning to take notice. Indeed, after centuries of glorification, the macho-man has finally fallen under the scrutiny of the public eye.
London menswear designer Craig Green joined the conversation with his Fall/Winter 19 collection, using his work to confront a pillar of the masculine archetype: emotional stoicism. Green focused on the relationship between vulnerability and strength. “I started off thinking about a man made of glass and the idea of fragility and how emotion doesn’t always mean weakness,” he said after the show. This notion was most prominent in the collection’s centerpiece. In a series of rainbow-hued suits, head-to-toe plastic wrapped around the models like blown glass—or “bubble wrap dragon scales,” as Green put it. The spectrum of smocked plastic was entirely composed of elasticated bin-liner, as Green wanted to replicate the appearance of packaging. “I like that something so light and so throwaway can be so protective,” he said.
The collection also heavily featured workwear, a hallmark of Green’s work as well as a common symbol of male ruggedness. Green presented these pieces, however, with delicacy and nuance. Cocoons, sashes and tassels ornamented his silhouettes, creating layered pieces that challenged menswear norms. The collection’s departure from gendered implications was embodied by a series of plaid pieces, which Green said he chose because the print “meant so many things to so many people.” He detached the checkered pattern from its usual lumberjack connotation by putting it on a set of flowing kaftans with cross-body slits. With his reworking of plaid, Green made the ubiquitous print more androgynous than traditionally masculine.
The spotlight shined on Green’s men of glass for most of the show, but its conclusion emphasized a different concept. The final six pieces were hooded parkas, each with neutral monochrome fronts and neon graphic backs. Green drew inspiration for the digital collages from diverse cultural sources, including a painting his mother purchased from a car boot sale. The prints—striking as they are—rarely appear in pictures from the show, as Green wanted them to be hidden from runway cameras. “All fashion is so front facing now,” he said. “I wanted to create something that only the people who come to the show can see.”
Six years have passed since Green launched his label. Since then, he has gained the admiration of consumers and critics alike, winning British Menswear Designer of the Year three times. With his FW19 show, Green returned to his home city and cemented his position as the undisputed champion of London menswear.