Edward Crutchley’s Yakuza wives confirm him as a truly major talent
Few designers in London today pack as much punch and panache as Edward Crutchley, whose latest collection was an ode to a beautifully histrionic Yakuza gangster film, and all the better for that.
Defining his collection as "something gritty, something pretty," Crutchley took the Hideo Gosha’s obscure cult flick Gokudô no onna-tachi, generally translated as 'Wives of Japanese Yakuza', and reinvented the glam, yet grisly melodrama as fab fashion-forward luxury. All packed into a four-minute tech-y video shot in a simulacrum of a Berlin techno club.
Dressing guys and gals in the similar fabrics in this co-ed collection. Modern day geishas with nihongami wigs with oodles of attitude. Or post-colonial dandies, who rocked up at a Yakuza initiation ceremony, but manage not to get their end of their little finger cut off in the rite.
Crutchley cuts with great skill – from his swirling skirts and crisp blazers, to his regally revamped kimonos for ladies; all the way to the jet black reconstructed kimono for gents, finished with embroidered crystal hearts and fruits. Posh pearly men on a rampage in Yokohama.
Last summer, Crutchley staged a memorable collection evoking Thatcherite Britain, subverting the idea with a multi-ethnic cast and ironic takes on country-house chintz. Evoking the ‘80s, “the last time it wasn’t cool to be British.” This season, he took his ideas to another level: historical gender-bending, by Britain’s snappiest new tailor.
If one checks out the name Edward Crutchley on Wikipedia, readers should be aware that this fashionable Edward Crutchley is not the same Edward Crutchley who scored a century for Harrow, playing against Eton at Lord’s in 1939. Yet another reason why we caught up with London Fashion Week’s Edward Crutchley to learn more about his opulent sense of aesthetics.
FashionNetwork.com: Hello Edward. Why did you want to deconstruct Yakuza this season?
Edward Crutchley: I suppose it was a bit of a lockdown moment of madness. I don’t want to think about sweatpants, and I wanted some escaping and fantasy. Something that feels apart from all this awfulness. A Japanese hairdresser friend of mine suggested the movie, and the influence just grew.
FN: Where did you get all the great prints?
EC: Well, I knew was going to be digital online. So I realized doing things that were bright and have big scale to them was vital.
FN: And what inspired all the kimono ideas?
EC: One of them was actually a reworking of a print we did for spring/summer 2017 that was inspired by a kimono that I found in Tokyo. I do have a small kimono collection, only about 60 actually [laughs]. One came from a little shop I found, from a textile student art project in 1930's that had to mix traditional Japanese and Art Deco influences. I loved that idea. The one in red was from kimono shopping in lockdown – No opera costumes that I found. So I bought five! Originally, it was black and gold and starker, so I brought in 80's lighting disco, and degradé and off it went. The third was from a jewelry group. That was inspired by a blouse from Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote, which has always been a big influence on me.
FN: What is the starting point of your collections?
EC: They can really come from anywhere. I don’t feel I need for one direct idea – the world we live not mono-color.
FN: You are from in the North of England?
EC: Yes, Yorkshire – in the Dales. I first came to London in 1999, and graduated from St Martin’s in 2003.
FN: And, you worked in Louis Vuitton with Kim Jones, right?
REC: I’ve been in Paris since 2007. First working with Louis Vuitton, before Kim, and then after he came. I then went with him to Dior. So, that is my background – international luxury.
FN: I see a unique sense of opulence meeting historical clothing about your collections, especially the tailoring, right?
EC: Tailoring became more of my focus, maybe less this season. This time I wanted post-Covid relaxed. This is my casual silhouette. But I don’t ever want to do tracksuits!
FN: Where is your studio in London?
EC: I don’t have one! Never really felt the need for one. I work where I am, I don’t cut and drape. I like to work directly with factories and production partners. So, I don’t feel it necessary. I work on the move and digitally – all my sketches are done on a computer, which does mean that my house is full of boxes of old samples!
FN: What did you want to achieve with your video?
EC: I wanted to give everyone a little bit of the experience of sitting in a front row – things going past you at different angles -- and a really strong sense of movement, and dynamism. And I think it does.
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