Protection is a recurring theme for Craig Green. After his SS19 show, as Pitti Uomo's headline guest designer for the season, Green explained that he looked to the clothing that keeps unsung heroes of the 21st century — cleaners, surgeons and delivery workers — safe and sound on the job. “Modern day angels, people who hold your life in their hands,” as he put it.

Craig Green shows are dreamy, ethereal experiences, and there's a very big difference between seeing the clothes as they are, and seeing them as Green sees them. His garments are as abstract as they get, which probably explains why fashion week veterans love him so much, and need to be unlocked before they can really be understood.

The designer's walking sculptures, one of his standard-issue motifs, were hinting at halos, but also the chalk outlines drawn around corpses, while Photoshop trickery was used on prints that layered three fabrics over each other, shifting each of them slightly. “As if you were looking at them in an earthquake,” Green explains. “Or as if they were about to disappear.”

While there's regular themes running throughout Green's shows, SS19 marked a first for the London designer: working with Nike on a selection of shoes and apparel filtered through his unique vision.

“Nike design has always embraced audacious imagination. In most tangible form, this embrace is about pushing boundaries with materials, color, or craft in order to find new solutions for athletes,” offers Nike VP of Design John Hoke in a statement. “Sometimes we embark on a methodical exploration, while at other times discovery comes by a happy accident. In both instances, we’ve regularly partnered with avant-garde collaborators (both internally and externally) who fearlessly explore new spaces and new potentials. We find that only through a shared investigation of ideas and trials can we reach our aim of creating the future of sport.”

The brand's chunky, hi-vis sneakers walked around underneath knitwear that was constructed from the same stuff that Nike uses on its Flyknit line, giving jumpers and hoodies a futuristic, form-fitting appeal—as if they were crafted on the body itself, toeing the line between 3D-printing and artisanal craft.

“Nike and Craig Green have pushed the boundaries of what innovation can look like. Craig is a unique leader in his craft exploring interesting conversations around shape and form and function,” adds Darryl Matthews, Nike Sportswear's Innovation Footwear Design Lead. “At Nike, shape and form and function are also key design pillars, but our process is filtered through a more distinct lens that also underscores performance-driven athlete insight. These principles precisely comprise the ethos behind both Nike Flyknit and the new Nike React Element 87 shoe, both of which Craig chose to work with us on in this avant garde collaborative design project.”

Finally, Green sent out giant, oversized tabards, held together with rope (another Craig Green classic) and with acid-hued prints that looked like tie-dye at first glance, but also formed the shapes of Renaissance statues if you looked at them right. A nod, not just to the sculptures that littered the venue (Florence's jaw-dropping Giardino di Bobboli), but to angels. The trippy backdrops that were used on those final pieces weren't just there to grab your attention. They also hinted at "a portal, or a doorway, where you can escape to a better place."

Craig Green collections might appear dense, but peel back the layers and you'll see that he's creating genuine high fashion. It's like seeing performance art, only with a result that people can buy. His runway is a theater that uses clothing as a mirror. It's a dense, multifaceted reflection of modern man's hopes, dreams and anxieties.

“Sometimes the worst nightmare is reality.”

Now read about how Craig Green accidentally became one of today's best menswear designers.

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