craig green’s latest campaign explores the power of combined effort

Photographed by Dan Tobin Smith and styled by Robbie Spencer, the autumn/winter 17 campaign depicts several men becoming a single, unstoppable force on the ocean waves.

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Aug 21 2017, 1:25pm

From last autumn's drones to spring's dancers in motion, Craig Green's painterly campaigns have a rare ability to transport the viewer to another world in an instant. "I think campaigns, like shows, should try to have a fantasy element -- both formats have their own limits and restrictions, but that is what makes them interesting," the designer explains over email. "I always like that a campaign gives you another way of communicating what the collection was about." For autumn/winter 17, it was about protecting his cult of dreamers from the imagined fear and harsh reality of the ocean. His shape-shifting signature collage of believers, fighters and followers evolved into mariners and submariners, appropriating the form and function of deep sea divers and lifeboat men.

Most critics left the front row with a sense that although consciously inspired by the watery great unknown, the collection was a response to the omnipresent atmosphere of dread that bedevils our days. "This was a coincidence, although I think it is almost impossible to make things that are not reactionary in some way to what is happening in the world or around you," he notes. "However, this was not inspired by or a direct message or comment about a particular thing, I think it's important for people to have their own interpretations of what they are seeing." We saw hope then and we see it again now.

While eight months have passed since the show, the global socio-political landscape is just as fear-filled and Craig Green's Dan Tobin Smith-shot, Robbie Spencer-styled campaign offers just as much hope. "It started with the idea of the symmetry of machinery, looking at images of many limbed gods and deities, that idea of people as a machine, in unison -- as a force," the designer explains. From Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man to multiple-armed Hindu deities, the five-part photo series sees several men become a single, unstoppable force. Synchronised limbs become cogs in a machine, that powers deep into the unknown. In each image this machine is depicted impacting water, a substance that not only connects all life on earth, but also as a key criterion of habitability elsewhere, the possibility of life beyond it. Hope.

"I have always tried to find a romantic way to look at things that are not obviously romantic," Green adds. "My work has always been about looking at communal ways for dress -- the workforce, groups or masses of people, in a romantic sense. Hopefully people see a beauty in the images, and the force of people in unison."