“It’s like you took your mum’s old curtains and made a Jet Ski out of it.” The things you hear backstage at fashion shows! Craig Green is nothing if not a sensible, non-pretentious chap, and one who has been twice voted Menswear Designer of the Year by an international panel of retailers and editors.

As such, his every word is hung on for its meaning. Yet the way Green’s synapses fire, the visual connections he makes are utterly unlike anyone else’s: Who else has ever thought it logical to construct wooden frames and have men carry them around in front of them at a fashion show? It’s disturbing when a designer’s impulses aren’t easy to follow, when they don’t fit a known template, when they aren’t explained by his or her having gone to a gallery, read a book, or taken a holiday.

In a way, that’s the whole effect of being at a Craig Green show: It’s the worrying thrill of trying to understand his shapes and his reasoning; the guesswork he puts you through, the certainty that he’s breaking untrodden terrain.

From the way Green was speaking, this much seemed apparent: that there was a tension going on between the freedom of childlike creativity and the rigidity of military uniforms. Of the series of monumental corded, hooded, full-length parkas, he said, it’s “like when you’re a kid, and you imagine a tent can fly. They’re like human tents.” Human tents, he added, that were also “medieval Celtic flags.”

Trusting in his imagination, dreams, nightmares, mental free associations, or whatever they are is part of the reason Green is considered an original, no matter how discombobulatingly mad his inspirations sound turned into words.

Yet Green is never quite off in the realms of abstract conceptualism. He also spoke about “gig lines,” a term which turns out to refer to the strict alignment of shirt, belt, and fly fastening in military uniform. Thus, presumably, the evolution of the vertical, sometimes tubular, lines that ran through garments. And somewhere in there, there was a thought about “putting a man in a mold.”

That’s what the military does, of course. It literally molds and constricts men. Green took the notion of making a cast and including the marginal pieces that are normally cut off afterward. They became fins on trousers, extra outlining on a grey jersey sweatsuit.

There are simple things here, and things that make you keep staring in near disbelief. Between these two extremes lies the reason Craig Green has a flourishing business.

This article first appeared on Vogue.com



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