Edward Crutchley AW21 is a love letter to Northern England’s matriarchs
Edward Crutchley’s AW21 collection celebrates the no-nonsense opulence of Coronation Street's Bet Lynch and drag legend Lily Savage.
Courtesy of Edward Crutchley
Anyone that has ever watched Coronation Street will know that there is a no-nonsense, straight-talking fabulousness to Northern women, least so in their love for gaudy prints, hair-rollers at the supermarket, and the earthy camp with which they dispense their arched one-liners. Edward Crutchley, who grew up in the Yorkshire Dales, has devoted his AW21 collection to the matriarchs of his hometown. Named after the original title for the British soap, ‘Florizel’ riffs on the gritty glamour of Bet Lynch and Lily Savage, as well as Edward’s own Nana Lorna. Leopard prints, silk head scarves, blown-up bouffants, ‘80s-style sportswear and cosy cardies are all given the Crutchley treatment, reimagined in sustainably-sourced, uber-luxe materials made as locally as possible. “I think it feels more realistic,” he explains. “I’m not someone who’s massively into autobiographical fashion, but this is it in a way. It feels like a real offering, rather than an abstract idea that the clothes are then based around.”
Combining menswear and womenswear (though Edward is quick to point out that it is all designed to be worn by whomever it pleases) the collection is ultimately a love letter to Northern England. The colours take their cue from the local terrain — sandy beiges, terracotta, stone greys and coal blacks — while the prints are slightly more… far-ranging. Of course, there’s leopard, the print that is simultaneously both soap star and mid-century Dior (Edward happens to be a creative consultant on Kim Jones’ menswear team there) which takes centre stage on supple merino jacquards. “What’s great about leopard is that it is immediately dressy,” Edward points out. “It has that intention of making it a look.” A moiré-like ocelot print, on the other hand, is applied to a warp of recycled polyester before being woven in the manner of an Ottoman fabric — and though it may seem pointedly couture, in fact comes from a streaked slug found in Edward’s back garden. It sits alongside damask prints based on 1820s designs from the textile printing museum in Mulhouse, plumed prints that are an amalgam of works by the naturalist John James Audubon, and intricate temple frescos on Liugong Island in China, a resting place for British Navy Officers in the early 20th century.
Many of Edward’s collaborators are Northern, too, like Stephen Jones, who created the moiré flat caps and floating foulard headscarves, and Roker’s Alim Latif, who crafted the patent leather Quality Street-like loafers. “When I was talking about this mood, everyone got it in a five-word conversation,” laughs Edward. It’s not lost on him that, at a time when so many are separated from their families, the idea of celebrating local everyday heroines and heroes is a comforting balm for lockdown homesickness. More poignantly, he also centred as much of his production in the UK as possible, something that many designers have been doing this season, as a result of challenges with post-Brexit customs and shuttered factories around the world. It’s something that Edward has always done, committing to an environmentally sustainable way of working the feeds right through the supply chain.
“I make luxury clothes, that’s my background, that’s what I know how to do and that’s what I’m interested in,” he says. “Honesty and transparency in sourcing shows people why your product is why the price it is. This is the best I can make it.” This season, his fabrics were printed by Biddle Sawyer in Manchester, cardigans and cashmere beanies knitted by Johnstons of Elgin on the Scottish borders, the slim micro-textured tailoring from Bower Roebuck in Hebden Bridge — that means that not only are the clothes made by skilled artisans from the best natural fabrics, but they don’t clock up thousands of air miles being flown back and forth — and if there was ever a tiny detail that makes a big statement, Edward’s sovereign rings are made using a mix of British Pound and Euro coins. Anti-Brexit bling at its finest.