Earlier this year, Elena Crehan sent her Central Saint Martin’s womenswear collection down the runway on male models. Each one appeared wearing her oversized and highly textured designs over a pair of fishnet tights. It was a bold move for the young designer, whose work explores gender dynamics, androgyny and intricate craftsmanship. Following the debut of her new film made in collaboration with filmmaker Amy Gwatkin, we spoke to the designer about her work and vision.
Dazed Digital: What were some of the references behind your graduate collection?
Elena Crehan: For this collection I wanted to experiment with the idea of lace as outerwear. The inspiration originally came from grass growing through football nets but this was a very early reference and the technique really evolved through developing samples. My visual research is always very diverse - Inuit Children dressed in oversized garments informed the silhouettes, whilst Rugby shirts informed the stripes. I am obsessed with texture so creating a textile that is tactile is always important. I liked the idea of something growing through the lace and I also liked the idea of making something a bit gross but very beautiful. Like when pubic hair pokes through lacey knickers, or when you pull your tights up and the hairs on your legs poke through!
DD: What interests you about experimenting with texture?
Elena Crehan: I've always liked texture. I like to mash-up textures and things that feel nice to touch and look like they would be nice to touch - it’s just what I do. I don't really know where it comes from. I like creating a surface that changes when it is put on the body, so that it responds to how it is handled and manipulated around the body. I like experimenting with proportion because I like how you can alter the way in which the body appears with it, I like oversized things because they make people look small or powerful, or both.
DD: What aspects of your work did you want to portray in the film?
Elena Crehan: I wanted to show the clothes in a real environment and in an unpretentious way. I've already shown the fantasy 'show' version of this collection in the MA show at LFW, so I wanted to show how it works in real life in a film that feels a bit like a documentary about a boy going to a party. Lace and fur are both quite feminine textures so when I put it on boys in the show everyone was shocked and said it was ‘subversive’. I wanted to ignore the shock element and make it feel as normal as possible... he's wearing lace and fur... and what about it...? He looks great, manly and cool.
In the run up to the beginning of London Collections: Men later this week, we will be presenting a series of new films on London’s emerging designers. In association with the BFC, Dazed has commissioned three new films – each of which will be screened during an event on Sunday 16th June at the Hospital Club alongside a film for River Island and the official LC:M film by Matt Lambert.