It was London Fashion Week this weekend and I was lucky enough to secure a press pass to the exhibition at Somerset House. I went along yesterday in the glorious sunshine to interview some lovely ladies who have big plans for the British textiles industry, so as you can imagine, I was very excited to meet them. More of that very soon I hope.
To celebrate some of the talented people I saw and talked with this week, here are some of my personal highlights from the exhibition and catwalk shows.
Although September fashion week showcases the Spring/Summer catwalks, there was still some beautiful knitwear in evidence. At Pringle, Clare Waight Keller has transformed the brand from the tired and uninspiring heritage brand I witnessed during my time on work placement at their design studio in 2003. In this season's show I was pleased to see the knitwear holding centre stage, looking both modern and interesting. Waight Keller used such traditional stitches as chunky cables and even hairpin lace (which I was so excited to see used in a contemporary ensemble after my recent class at City Lit) combined with the more obviously summer attire of fine gauge silky sweaters, tiny fine gauge cables and pointelle dresses to great effect. Thus she proved that knitting can be suitable and, in fact, elegant at any time of year.
Another classic brand which appeals to my personal tastes is Jaeger London; a British brand, plus being popular in the 70s equals retro classic perfection! There were some great knits incorporating the metallic trend I also noted at such brands as Louise Goldin and Betty Jackson, yet another British fashion institution, alongside some chic pieces which utilised the desirable contrast of chunky and fine knit stripes as seen on the right. Another trend here, and all over the collections was for the longline cardigans we have seen for quite a few seasons; good news for my last Summer collection cardi, which will last and last!
It was not just the oldies doing knitwear well this season, some relatively new and talented designers also caught my eye. Christopher Kane was one of the hot tickets of the week and I adored his subtle, soft pastel checked jumpers and vests, which layered beautifully over the unusually large proportioned gingham skirts and dresses he sent down the catwalk.
Finally, I cannot mention the knitwear at LFW without talking about Mark Fast's controversial show. He sent out some incredibly tight fitting and transparent fine gauge knits which mainly looked more like underwear than outerwear; Fast innovatively sees knitting as an extension of hosiery rather than as traditional sweaters. He also used 'plus-size' models (for which phrase substitute 'normal' or 'average' as you wish), causing a great hurrah in the press. To be honest, I was not overly enamoured by his dresses, or the make up which made all his models, whatever their size, look half dead, but the structures and techniques used in his work are fascinating. I especially liked the beaded embellishments, which looked like large glass beads trapped in tubes of fine knitting. They remind me of a bracelet I started one year as a birthday present for a friend, but never finished (sorry Katherine!) This show might just be the motivation I need to make another.
I certainly got a lot of inspiration from all the coverage this week and am already planning my next summer collection, despite not being halfway through winter's yet...too many ideas, not enough hours in the day...