Model Rachel Rutt first started modelling at 18-years-old after she graduated from high school. Now, at 25 and having working for designers including Akira Isogawa, Phillip Lim and Zimmermann, it’s fair to say she knows a thing or two about the power of clothing and the way a garment feels against the skin. But her latest wool project, Feel Real Love, takes knits beyond the runway and into the realm of art.
“They are definitely more costume or wearable art rather than fashion,” she says, of the collection of bright, knitted outfits that each took approximately a week to knit. “Just by the way they look let alone how people feel in them. People can kind of become a bit goofy.”
Rutt’s modus operandi has always been to create pieces with personality. “The best part about the response that I’ve had from people putting them on is not that it looks great or it’s wearable. Seemingly the best part is that it takes you out of the normal world. I think that’s the part that I enjoy the most.”
A photo shoot organised to document the body of work saw Rutt gather a group of close friends to bring the pieces to life, and a video and original soundtrack composed by Heart People, the two-piece musical project formed by Rutt and Ryan Grieve, was developed to complement the anonymous characters. It’s the perfect culmination of Rutt’s interests in fashion, craft and music.
“It’s funny, I have these three different careers which kind of go in and out of each other,” she explains. “Fashion and modelling has come in to play with the music a bit recently since the launch of our first video clip in March...in the same way wool is merging with music and has already in the past merged with fashion. It’s nice to see it all coming together.”
While Rutt has been concentrating on music in earnest for the past two years, her fascination with wool started a decade ago. “I learned how to knit when I was in high school,” she says. “I wasn’t a good knitter at the time. It wasn’t until a couple of years later when I started modelling and having a lot of spare time on shoots that I actually started picking it.
“Through modelling, I got to travel a lot and I found everywhere I was going I’d look at what was happening in wool there, I’d either try and source a local yarn or do a project on that trip.” It was these small projects that led Rutt to working with UK-based knitting collective Wool and the Gang on DIY kits, and New York-based Australian label Tome on two bespoke Merino wool scarves shown on the runway for AW14.
Now, Rutt has just launched a new website to showcase and sell her unique wearable knit sculptures, and encourages open-minded experimentation. “Often the wearer changes the garment completely,” she says. “I like to offer people costumes and not tell them how to put it on because you often find yourself looking at something you didn’t expect, and it’s usually better,” she laughs.
Find out more at www.rachelrutt.com
Making lovely chunky knitwear with a little help from Hugo the dog