Ease and comfort are perhaps words that have popped up in designer’s lexicon to most in the 21st century. And it when it comes to using wool in collections, the designers of London Fashion Week are effusive about how the fibre of wool enhances their work, even in a spring/summer season. The beautiful Scabal wools that featured in Holly Fulton’s collection were unmissable due to the vibrancy of colours and the way they were tailored into sleek dresses contrasted with crazed glitter swirl decoration and embellishments that were inspired by the British surreal artist Eileen Agar.
“It was crucial for us to capture the hues and tones Agar embodied in her work,” explains Fulton. “The tonal range of the Scabal fabrics perfectly mirrored the slightly off-kilter spectrum she worked with, whilst offering us an extremely premium feel to the fabrications.”
Scabal’s potential to hold bright and rich colours because of wool’s natural ability to be dyed to the core of the fibre aided Fulton’s bold colour combinations of teal, dusky pink, coral and apple green. They reflected Agar’s eccentric vision.
Fulton wasn’t the only one inspired by unconventional art. Christopher Kane was inspired by Scottish outsider artist Scottie Wilson and sculptor John Chamberlain in a collection he called “crash and repair”. Soft fuzzy knits were stitched over with deliberately wonky strokes of yarn and at the elbows neon elbow patches were an unexpected addition. The show of the hand seemed to be a growing trend in London as at Pringle, there was also a show of the heart too at knitwear label Sibling, as Cozette McCreery and Sid Bryan soldiered on without their co-conspirator Joe Bates, who recently passed away, to produce a collection that was like a greatest hits of Sibling. Little wool-like slip dresses and two-piece crop tops and skirts were covered in their signature leopard intarsia. It was sad to see just two people emerge at the end of the runway but also heartening that they’ll carry on with their lovable knit antics.
The Hispanic/Latino theme that you could see inklings of in some of the New York shows could also be seen in Osman Yousefzada’s collection, whose press notes had a beautiful quote from Frida Kahlo. Yousefzada isn’t one to hammer home a theme though; instead, there were nuances of Kahlo that were then streamlined into silhouettes that women will want to wear. In inky black, wide-legged Merino wool trousers, skirts and strapless dresses anchored with wide leather belts and circular ornaments, Kahlo’s personal style was translated into a modern wardrobe - one filled with ease.
There was also plenty of ease in Paul Smith’s drape-filled collection where dresses bounced with the beckoning of springtime fun times and his signature tailoring was allowed to breathe with wide-legged trousers and single-breasted jackets. The casualness of a grey marl tri-blend fabric was channelled into a grey marl tri-blend wool dress, which in turn contrasted with the graded concertina leather clutches in hues of orange and yellow.
A navy wool buttoned-up jacket and a complementing teal skirt suit fitted into Smith’s naturally informal oeuvre. For his very international fan base, wool gives his clothes the lightweight and quality that they demand: As Sir Paul Smith says: “You need fabrics that have got life!”
On the last day of London Fashion Week, Christopher Raeburn continued his collaboration with innovative knitwear start-up Knyttan. Based in Somerset House, they allow the end customer to customise knit patterns and designs online, with the ability to produce them almost immediately.
“We were introduced to Knyttan by The Woolmark Company,” says Raeburn.
“We thought it was great to work with someone with a story and that makes the product more special. What’s amazing with Knyttan is the ability to change the pattern online and within a matter of hours they can have it produced for you.”
Inspired by Sarawak tribes and female explorers, Raeburn’s collection featured these customisable knits with an abstracted tie-dye pattern in black and white as well as a waved ribbon motif that can be changed and placed onto different positions on the jumper. Raeburn, with The Woolmark Company’s support, is taking wool to new places, fashioning it for a future where the customer will ultimately be able to take control.
Osman Yousefzada has created a range of trousers inspired by some of the world’s most iconic women