the world’s most divisive collaboration is finally here
Michelin man? Arctic samurai? Human tampon? Walking sleeping bag? Whatever you see when you look at these sculptural down-filled Rorschach tests, Moncler Craig Green has arrived and it’s amazing.
Image courtesy of Moncler
Craig Green’s menswear provokes emotion. From front page Daily Mail “oak couture” outrage to front row tears of joyful release, the London-born designer’s uniform-inspired designs have the ability to stir our deepest desires and/or ignite ire. When Moncler unveiled Craig as part of its Genius project -- an explosion of creative energy that saw eight designers reimagine its iconic down-filled outerwear -- back during Milan Fashion Week in February, social media buzzed with hyperbolic hot takes, memes, lols and declarations of love. Why? Alongside the varied voices of Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, Simone Rocha, Noir Kei Ninomiya and Hiroshi Fujiwara for Moncler Fragment, Craig took the open brief and pushed the possibilities to their limits. Now, as his down jacket dystopian daydreams land in stores, the internet is reacting all over again. Michelin Man Cosplay, Walking Blow-up Mattress Man, Human Tampon, Life-Saving Raft, and so much more. Has there ever been such a sculptural yet wearable Rorschach test?
“Diet Prada posted a ‘caption this’ image that had one of my Moncler pieces alongside a tampon and a close-up of another alongside a sea cucumber,” Craig laughs over a crackling Skype connection, “I love it, at least people see something different,” he adds. “Our clothes are never directed at any specific person, really, it's more of an idea and I want people to make up their own minds." Craig is continually offering sartorial propositions and challenges. For a designer continually inspired by uniform, both functional and imagined, the realities and spiritualities of dress are at the forefront of his mind and it’s little wonder that where some people see light and hope, others see a darker edge.
While his shows continually transports the frow to other worlds, and the journey can challenge their emotional state, his shapeshifting signature collage of believers, fighters and followers have won him critical and commercial success at every turn. So much so that he's earned this title of British Menswear Designer of the Year at the Fashion Awards, twice. He’s a genius and nobody should be surprised that after the success of his previous capsule collections with the Milan-based outerwear specialist Moncler C they enlisted him once more.
“I remember when the first capsule collection launched and Moncler shared an image of the poodle man piece (worn famously by Skepta, leading to the coining of “Michelin Roadman") and there were thousands of aggressive, hateful comments,” he explains. “I was waiting for the mortifying call from them being worried about the collaboration. They seemed to like it. It certainly engaged people.” Instead of calling to cancel, Moncler invited him to join its “republic of innovation”, Moncler Genius. "In an era of mega fashion collaborations, this is the mega-est,” wrote Nicole Phelps for Vogue.com back in February. Well, Craig’s immersive, pulsating presentation was the mega-est of the mega. Acknowledging that Craig is both a pragmatist and a provocateur, the brand let him run wild. “Moncler are so open and they will always try something,” he explains, “even if they’re unsure, they give it a go, which is so rare in our industry.”
“When Moncler first called, I couldn’t work out what the collaboration could be and I wanted it to make sense for both of us,” he confesses. After some thought, he began to see similarities and opportunities. “I have always explored ideas of protection and functionality within my work, ideas that are at the core of Moncler’s heritage. I thought it would be interesting for these ideas to be pushed further, interpreting Moncler’s performance-based history, and developing designs with their years of technical knowledge and expertise. They’re just amazing at inventing garments out of down.”
So, Green devised overblown, sculptural shapes that, although exaggerated, retain a sense of function. How does Craig interpret his own down-filled Rorschach tests? “I like the collection but we’ve already finished next season,” he replies modestly. “For me, this is a development. I guess what we created is quite different from the other collaborators because we were developing the language and research of the previous year. We had an advantage there, learning what’s possible and what’s not.” Once more, possibilities are playfully pushed in the expanding creative universe of Craig Green. But as radical as his sculptural down-filled forms appear, the intention is for them to be worn and used. Who doesn’t want to be protected from a catastrophe by enveloping themselves in functional-yet-fantastical outerwear that could easily be used as a flotation device or life-saving raft? This is, perhaps, armour for a post-Trump apocalypse.
In addition to Moncler’s own stores, Moncler Craig Green is available exclusively at Dover Street Market physical locations internationally, SSENSE MONTRÉAL and online at ssense.
A 5 Moncler Craig Green exhibit is on view from August 22 - September 10 at SSENSE MONTRÉAL.