Edward Crutchley Spring/Summer 24 which showed at London Fashion Week today took inspiration from a million different references, but mostly it looked at the juxtaposition between them all. Crutchley’s monochromatic collection contrasted the old with the new, conservative with seductive, elevated with casual, and traditional with modern, culminating in a collection that was basically a black and white explosion of cultures, periods, and influences.
Crutchley wrote in the show notes for his Spring/Summer 2024 collection that he took inspiration from many things, from “harlequins” and “oversized tracksuits” to “a latex gown” and “Steven Meisel”. But perhaps most interestingly, he mentioned envisioning “a woman in an academic skirt that falls to her ankles which she has accessorised with a choker,” when designing the collection, an image which is seen through the contrast between mesh and latex; skin and clothes; hoods and bald caps.
Even the show space itself was a juxtaposition, hosted at the St Cyprian’s at Clarence Gate, London, an Anglican Parish within the Church of England. The ornate stained-glass windows, carved wooden pews, and gold-tipped details on the ceiling created the atmosphere of a holy event, with models striding up the runway towards Jesus himself (or a statue of him at least). However, the reverberating bass of the ‘Boney M. – Rasputin’ remix that echoed around the church and the explicit fits shown on the runway told a different story.
The reduction of colour – an attribute seen before in Crutchley’s designs, given that AW23 had the same muted palette – helped to ground the collection, adding a level of continuity amidst the chaos. A monochrome billowing tiered-frill dress in cream mesh with black piping was paired with heavy, black boots (following on with the theme of contrast), whilst other looks were accessorised with zebra striped bags in the shape of dogs and rabbits, swung over models shoulders.
Even the makeup followed the same monochromatic theme, with obsidian smokey eyes and black lipstick contrasting boldly with the skin-coloured flesh masks and bald caps worn by some models. This notion of flesh, bare skin, and nudity was reflected in the clothing too, seen in the muted flesh-tones of mesh tank-tops and dresses, and on the garments printed with naked torsos, from dresses to full tailored suits.
Reflecting on the motifs that Crutchley mentioned in his show notes, his vision for Spring/Summer 2024 is as obvious as if it was… well, written in black and white. The collection pulls on inspirations from all over the place, yet what’s left at the end is as cohesive as it is chaotic.
Crutchley approached the challenge every designer faces – whether to follow the traditional and conventional or abandon it for something controversial and new – and he decided to do both. What we’re left with is a time capsule; a black and white movie capturing the past, present, and future of Crutchley’s designs in one frame.
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