I first encountered Edward Crutchley’s work at the 2019 International Woolmark Prize in London, where he took home the top prizes for both Menswear and Innovation. He was the first designer in Woolmark’s history to take home two prizes in the same night, having earned the ardent admiration of an esteemed panel of judges that included Tim Blanks, Gwendoline Christie, and the late, great Alber Elbaz. As I was interviewing Crutchley backstage I noticed Kim Jones—who has been mentoring Edward since his tenure at Louis Vuitton Mens—had snuck backstage to congratulate his protegè in person. There was a decided A Star Is Born sensibility to the entire evening.
Two years on, and Crutchley’s career continues its rapid upward trajectory. He now designs womenswear (though those delineations continue to feel irrelevant in 2021) and made his official debut on the London Fashion Week womenswear circuit this afternoon, showing an opulent collection fit for non gender-conforming royalty. Crutchley’s power has always been his use of prints and they were once again the star ingredient for SS22, appearing on oversized knits, sheer dresses, and slashed-up trousers.
The show—a tight 15 looks—opened and closed with two voluminous, Tudor-esque gowns, the first an 18th century brocade print, the second an eye-grabbing lurex crepe robe à l’anglaise. Looks were topped off with headwear designed by the iconic London milliner Stephen Jones and chunky heels created by the buzzy gender neutral shoewear brand Roker. Crutchley later revealed the collection was inspired by queer spaces from London’s history, which date back more than 400 years. “In the 1720s, there were more queer spaces and coffee houses per head—it would’ve been equivalent of 200 gay bars in 1970,” he said. “Queer culture has been part of London life for centuries. Now is the time for queer people to talk about it.”