Extreme Knitting

This week was STLM Fashion week by Berns in Stockholm where Sandra Backlund was one of many who showcased her A/W 08 collection (she already wins my approval by using Regina Spektor as her soundtrack to her show). The Swede is still a relatively new name in the fashion world (but she won the Future Design Days award for young designers at the Future Design Days conference in Stockholm, 2005 as well as being the winning collection at Festival d’Hyeres last April) Her pieces are instantly recognisable and push knitwear to the extreme. This clearly caught the attention of Marc Jacobs and they collaborated on the Louis Vuitton AW knitwear collection as well as quite a few bloggers in the past year. Perhaps I’m treading on ground that has already been well trodden but still, here is my little input to the exciting young designers that are bringing knitwear back to life.

Commenting on the design process Backlund says she sees her work as art and is greatly interested in how garments can highlight, distort and transform the natural silhouette of the body. Backlund also knits and hand crochets all the garments herself. She describes the approach to her work as more akin to sculpture than as a tailor and her trademark is in the very heavy wool collage knitting.

Upon first glance, her designs to me are very sculptural, almost architectural in design where you could almost imagine scaffolding holding up the pieces together. In Stockholm she exhibited huge, weighty tunics with exaggerated braided knitting and also resembling huge twisted balls of rope. Who knew that knitwear could be manipulated into these huge, sculptural forms?

Another young designer is Craig Lawrence whose work includes knitting bin bags for Gareth Pugh’s first collection (S/S 07) His enthusiasm for knitwear shows in his fun and cleverly knitted pieces and describing knitwear as being more exciting than fashion design because you get to create your own fabric. He has since gone and worked for McQ and i am awaiting eagarly in anticipation for his debut collection.
This new approach to knitwear (which has long been associated with our grannies knitting woolly jumpers and hideous stuffed toys) is such a radical take. Perhaps we are entering a refreshing and exciting new era for knitwear and i, frankly can’t wait to see more of it!