“When I was four, I told my teacher I wanted to be an archaeologist and discover the labyrinth of the Minotaur,” London-based designer Edward Crutchley tells us below, and while that particular dream never materialised; “cultural referencing and looking outside of my own direct experience is something that has definitely carried through into my design work,” Crutchley continues.
This thirst for ancient myths, new worlds and Old Masters has long informed Crutchley’s work, from his graduate studies at CSM to his synonymous brand, founded in 2014. A lesson in Détournement – the craft of subversion, a manipulation of artefacts from contemporary culture and a conscious effort to repurpose it into something fresh – this designer’s creative schtick looks to pluck contemporary, sportswear codes out of their comfort zone and filter them into a richly themed universe.
For FW19 however, Crutchley’s influences went back decades, not centuries. Paying homage to 1980s tailoring and power dressing, the Yorkshire-born designer reimagined the idea of business attire via the workwear codes he has long honed. Within this narrative, the CSM-graduate sneaks us into the after-hours of an office Christmas party brimming with menswear pieces inspired by Japanese ready-to-wear, and womenswear informed by the fierce magnificence of Grace Jones in 1985 Bond movie A View to a Kill.
Pushing his design codes towards a more formal aesthetic, the collection marked a bold and assured shift in Crutchley’s brand vision. Currently working part-time at Dior menswear under Kim Jones, Crutchley is learning his trade from the best and applying it to his own craft.
J.L. Sirisuk: Where are you based these days – are you splitting time between London and Paris?
Edward Crutchley: Yes, still moving between the two. Paris is for my work at Dior, then I come back to London to work on my collection. A little hectic, but better that than having nothing to do [laughs].
JLS: What are some of your earliest memories involving fashion? Did you experiment with style while growing up?
EC: I remember my mum making me enter a competition to design an outfit for Barbie when I was about nine. A red bustier and asymmetric skirt with a matching beret – a strong look. I did go through quite a lot of looks when I was a teenager. Once I cut off my jeans just below the knee, which caused a real stir at school.
JLS: Looking back, were there any influences that became a part of your creative outlook?
EC: I was always really interested in myths and legends. When I was four, I told my teacher I wanted to be an archaeologist and discover the labyrinth of the Minotaur. That cultural referencing and looking outside of my own direct experience is something that has definitely carried through into my design work.
“When I was four, I told my teacher I wanted to be an archaeologist and discover the labyrinth of the Minotaur.”
JLS: You have a long-standing working relationship with Kim Jones – how did you two initially connect and how has your creative dynamic changed over time?
EC: I met Kim when he came to Louis Vuitton. I don’t think our relationship has changed massively over time, he is someone who is very open to ideas but also very happy to give advice and his voice is one that I really listen to.
JLS: After working for numerous prestigious brands, when did you know it was time to create and launch your own line?
EC: I had reached a point where I was seeing things that I loved but knew I would like to do them differently. I think I reached a point where I felt I could separate ideas for work from my own, and then I realised I might have something relevant to say.
“The idea of appropriateness really interests me – how we dress and why, that’s something I’d like to continue exploring”
JLS: I know your roots are in Yorkshire – do you try to incorporate this into your design aesthetic?
EC: Not consciously. I don’t personally feel the need to reflect my own experiences in my work, I find it more exciting to look outwards and discover new things.
JLS: This season is a bit more formal and sleek – can you pull me into the inspiration for it – Japanese 1980s tailoring, a holiday Christmas party, power dressing – how did all of this come together?
EC: Really those come from the research I’ve done. I don’t tend to start out with a particular narrative in mind. It’s more something that happens naturally as I research and design the collection, more through osmosis than intention.
JLS: I love the Grace Jones inspiration from A View to a Kill.
EC: Of course! Grace Jones in Alaia – what’s not to love!
JLS: Where do you see your design narrative going?
EC: I really enjoyed doing something that felt more sleek. The idea of appropriateness really interests me – how we dress and why, that’s something I’d like to continue exploring.
Follow Edward Crutchley here.