Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Men's Fashion Shows

There's been a lot of talk in the blogosphere of late about the pros and cons of "Fashion Forward" knitting. It seems that this happens almost every time a new issue of Vogue Knitting hits the stands, and it's such a shame to see this fantastic resource being blasted simply for showing some creativity.

I agree, there are times when knitters have been presented with patterns more suitable for Lady Gaga than your small town mom, but I think that's missing the point. So many times have I heard "I'm not interested in fashion, it doesn't cater for me". Now listen to this, as it's important:

There is no such thing as being too old, large or impoverished for fashion, as long as you're buying clothes you are in some way influenced by the High End world. 

When was the last time you bought boot-cut jeans? Or a scrunchie? Or those formerly ubiquitous "combat trousers" of the late 90's? You couldn't find them if you wanted to, because, whether we like it or not, these clothes don't fit in with our modern aesthetic.

As such, I can't help but feel that it's of interest and importance to be aware of what's going on in the wider fashion world when designing knitwear and choosing which patterns to make. Yes, that top down raglan pattern you've had for 20 years may fit you very well, and you may well have memorised it for speedy easy knitting, but if it clashes with everything else in your wardrobe is it really worth it? 

Of course, surely one of the the main benefits of making things ourselves is being able to create things that are unique, personal, and otherwise unavailable to us. Surely that's one of the reasons why cable and lace insertions into knitted garments are so popular, creating an effect so different to what we can buy on the high street? The difference for me perhaps, is that rather than taking the cardigan off the high street and putting in that lace insertion, I'd rather play around with the vast array of shapes and silhouettes we see in fashion, and take inspiration from the fun twists on traditional ideas we find there.

So hurrah to Vogue Knitting, for giving us something fresh, and hurrah for fashion week, for expanding our horizons. You're far from perfect, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

As such (and thanks blog, for letting me vent), I wanted to share some of my highlights from the recent Men's Fashion shows for Spring 2012. There's only space for a few, but I'd direct anyone interested to take a peek at Vivienne Westwood's Olympic themed collection, Givenchy's fabulous digital prints, and the rest of the John Varvatos collection, which is just awesome.

Firstly I wanted to share my favourite piece from all the shows, this gorgeous sweater from Bottega Venatta. I don't know how clearly you can see, but it's knit using similar techniques to Barbara Walker's Mosaic Knitting, and there are different patterns in the saddle shoulders (obviously!) across the top of the chest and down the arms, giving a subtle textured effect. I'm so hoping this will be stocked in London so I can go look more closely!

One of my favourite collections was from Burberry Prorsum, who have been fantastic for the last few seasons across the board. Excusing the ridiculous crocheted hats, these Aztec inspired sweaters, particularly the first one, are simply fabulous. I may have to have one!

I can't even believe I'm saying this, but this sweater from Giorgio Armani is awesome. I can readily imagine it knit in some really slowly colour repeating yarn. That wouldn't quite have that same dip dyed effect, but would possibly be even cooler! (For some varigated yarn usage, check out Missoni and Pringle, Missoni in particluar has some great pooling effects)

Not a knit, but this jacket from John Varvatos is fabulous. I love assymetric fronts, and this buttons way up into and across the shoulder. I may get Andrew to make me one of these! Plus the trousers are sexy too.

Last but not least a couple of jerseys from Lanvin. I can really see this kind of jersey cutting taking off in handknitting, particularly as the use of fingering weight and sock weight yarns increases in popularity. This first top has an unusual collar construction, but we've made a few t-shirts like this at home already, so maybe one day I'll show you how it's done. Notice also that contrast across the top of the chest, similar to the Bottega Venatta top. I found a few more examples of this, so it's possibly a trend in the making.

That second top is rather feminine in itself (you'd be amazed how many female models were used in the men's shows!) but I love the layered twisted neck. There were a few lovely layered jerseys, I just don't have space for them all.

Hopefully you've been inspired to have a look at some shows, the best place is Style.com