If you had the good fortune of attending a show at Victoria House as part of last month’s London Collections: Men, chances are you would have spied Alan Crocetti’s work, positioned to the right hand side as you made your way to the second PR stop in the building’s basement. A sea of metal jewellery pieces on transparent plastic furniture and a stack of XL cards featuring the AW16 campaign above; visually it made for one of the better pre-show encounters.
“Jewellery has always fascinated,” the designer tells Clash over email, almost a month later. “My first contact with jewellery was through my grandfather who was a lawyer; lawyers back then used to carry a ruby ring; also my mom’s pearls. When I was young I never could really grasp the reason why men never wore them.”
A former student on the Womenswear course at Central Saint Martins, it was while at the esteemed college that his attentions shifted: “I just had to put my ideas on paper, and I learned how to execute them in a non-methodical way,” he says. “I didn’t have much practice to be honest, I never interned for a jewellery house, I simply love the intricacy of the making and the beauty of the materials. It’s kind of funny to think that my learning process is under a lot of scrutiny, because this is now my business.”
“I do want menswear to get out of the ‘men’s wear’ hole that it has been stuck in, jewellery wise,” he adds of the venture. “Men are not as strong and as simple as they’ve been portrayed and there’s a lack of sensitivity about it. But at the same time it was never my decision to be a men’s jewellery designer, I simply make jewellery that comes in men’s sizes.”
Stocked in Dover Street Market and responsible for the mouthpieces that caused friction at Bobby Abley’s AW14 show (some people thought they were too referential to late 90’s Alexander McQueen), Alan Crocetti is a label that draws you in and makes you engage, both to question and praise.
“I like impactful simplicity and a strong sense of character,” he assesses of his penchant for the minimal, elegant and bold. “I don’t really fantasise about famous people wearing my jewellery or even categorise my pieces into a certain niche, as time goes by I live more by the idea that the people surrounding me are big inspirations and I’m simply flattered by anyone that purchases or admires them, no matter which tribe or style they belong too.”
The first Alan Crocetti dent proper in the industry arrived for SS15, when he joined Fashion East’s Menswear Installations alongside Shaun Samson, Martine Rose, Edward Crutchley and Marques’Almeida. “Fashion East made everything that would have seemed/been unfeasible, possible,” he explains. “It was great to have such an important platform believing in my work and pushing me forward.”
A second season on Lulu’s line-up followed for AW15, this time joined by fellow jewellery designer Roxanne Farahmand and Grace Wales Bonner, whose apparel likewise lends itself to the current re-evaluation of male adornment – recently declared a moment by Simon Chilvers in The Guardian – before a short film appeared for SS16.
But it’s not just fashion editors, curators and the like who agree on the buzz; customers are present too. “The feedback has been amazing,” confirms Crocetti. “It’s good to see people realising that men are beyond cuff-links and leather bracelets. We desire the same precious stones women go crazy for and we appreciate the beauty and delicacy of pearls.”
“My designs don’t just redefine the common sense of masculinity but they also defy conceived notions of it. I’m glad people’s minds are more open to receive, register and appreciate new information.”
Fond of work by the likes of Jenny Holzer, Man Ray, Barbara Kruger and Peter de Potter – “I like the idea of a non-empty beauty” – elsewhere his reference points are closer to home: “My garden inspires me, the plumber’s tools, my mom’s kitchen appliances, a lover’s body. It’s all about how it’s perceived at a certain time.” And like his peers, he uses social media, namely Instagram, to showcase how he’s seeing the world around him. “It’s crucial,” he argues, “A vital way of showing your work and what you’re about.”
Titled ‘Endurance’, AW16 sees him work with photographer Joyce NG, and muse and filmmaker Stefan Schwartzman, while the collection itself is a nod to last year. “2015 was a year of obstacles, I dug really deep into everything that seemed to scare me and also make me feel alive,” he acknowledges. “I didn’t really prepare a press release (for AW16), because I wanted it to speak for itself, and also because everything about it is more personal to me than referential, but I can say the collection is about a man’s journey through passion, delusion, pain and survival.”
Words: Zoe Whitfield