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Craig Green sails into challenging new territory, as Christopher Bailey takes Burberry on a trip


Craig Green is the name on industry lips right now, and yesterday he showed his first solo collection after a three-season stint with the MAN programme. Green’s first collection, replete with vast wooden sculptures worn on the face, inspired mirthless headlines such as “What a Plank!”. But his vision for spring/summer should be more easily digested by Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, not least because those face structures were gone, replaced by frames from which colour-co-ordinated swathes floated like ethereal sails behind the promenading models.

The clean lines and abundant use of ribbon ties and drawstrings on loose-wrap jackets and apron-fronted trousers, evoked martial arts uniforms. There were workwear influences, too, executed most notably in denim, while there was also a hint of the Balearic super-club scene. Achieving a balance between creative, complex and wearable pieces is usually a stumbling block for young designers, and Green is obviously interested in pursuing something new and pushing boundaries, so it was reassuring that he took his fledgling solo steps without faltering.

At Sibling, the use of clothing as armour was literally interpreted as defensive scales on spike-textured knits, which were spattered with Swarovski crystals for more effect. Spots and hair, in the designers’ words “the two biggest preoccupations of your average self-obsessed youth”, were prominent motifs in their exploration of modern-day youth tribes, the former mutated into the brand’s now signature take on leopard print. After a couple of not so stellar seasons, it was good to see Sibling designers Joe Bates, Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreery on sturdier ground.

In contrast, Burberry takes mighty strides. True, they may not be giant leaps design-wise, but Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer and now CEO of the brand too, knows how to put on a show. He also knows that his customers are as interested in the dual heritage of Burberry and Britain as they are in any of the brand’s buy-it-now novelties. This season, Bailey was inspired by the gentleman explorer and travel writer Bruce Chatwin and the Britain in Pictures series from the 1940s. Such references are less than obvious, but when he puts his full force behind them, they tend to take flight.