Did you know that Coronation Street was almost called Florizel Street? Nope, me neither. Created in 1960, the long-running soap series’ feisty, matriarchal characters are the inspiration behind Edward Crutchley’s latest collection, Florizel – the original working title nabbed by creator Tony Warren from Sleeping Beauty’s prince of the same name, and now the origin story to the designer's latest ‘paean’ to northern culture.
"After reading Susanna Clarke’s 2004 debut novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which is historically researched fantasy, I started thinking about an imaginary cultural swap during the industrial revolution," says Crutchley. "If the south became industrial, and the north was romantic and mystical, how would that kind of north-south divide affect us all now?"
Initially, Crutchley toyed with the idea of shooting the collection on the now iconic Coronation Street set, but when further Covid restrictions kicked in, a digital ‘something else’ became the focus. "It’s not a runway film, it’s not really a presentation either," Crutchley says. "It’s something completely new for me: a film that has a complete focus on traceability, sourcing and transparency. I always talk about these issues so I thought it was time to show footage of our suppliers and manufacturers actually making the clothes, explaining what they do and why it’s special."
For a creative like Crutchley, with previous consultancies at Louis Vuitton and now at Dior, and whose approach to fashion is firmly rooted in the luxury end of the business, it has been especially difficult to be recognised as a sustainably focused designer when his London-based peers have been loudly championed for upcycling, recycling and repurposing deadstock. "People still want to shop, that will never stop. And recycling deadstock works for smaller companies but it’s short-term. The question now is how to produce beautifully crafted clothing in an organic, sustainable way that is scaleable and long term. If you use our merino wool as an example, it’s fully traceable back to the flock. From sheep to suit is my mantra."
But what about the clothes? Do they stand up to this kind of scrutiny? Alongside the cashmere tweed Keitel bomber and donkey jackets – traditional jacket shapes worn by farmers at auction – the long rain coats and swing coats fashioned from ocelot and leopard printed moire ( "inspired by a slug I found in the garden") are strong shouldered, sitting beside boldly printed tailoring and, er, tracksuits. Made from a cashmere melange, natch, they are a first for Crutchley – his new Bet Lynch meets B-Boy aesthetic – and a statement of intent. "This collection is a real distillation of what I’m about," he says. "It’s honest. And it’s more realistic as a proposal."
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