The bulk of my favourite shows at London Fashion Week took place not in the tents or some other swish venue but it was in the Portico Rooms of Somerset House where salon-style shows were put on by a handful of New Gen sponsored designersCraig Lawrence took the word 'salon' and literally gave us a 50s style presentation where the models came turning out accompanied by a narrator who read out intricate descriptions of the clothes.  It was a juxtaposition of styles – Lawrence's radical knitwear up against a steady and level narrator voice.  Still, the effect was to emphasise not just the visual impact of Lawrence's knitwear pieces, which never cease to amaze me when I see them on body, but to really make the point of Lawrence's craft and work put into the often hand-knitted pieces.  Just lazily listening to some of the descriptions already gives you a much more rounded perspective of the clothes – "Navy metallic gimp yarn is mixed with blue elastic and ladder stitched into a raglan sleeve top.  Black metallic yarn is engineered into a high waisted floor length skirt.  Ladder stitching and hold techniques create a full circular knit without seams.  To juxtapose the direction of the horizontal striped skirt, vertical stripes are ladder stitched into leggings and worn underneath…"

…and so on as all fifteen looks were accompanied with this level of detail in the voiceovers…

IMG_4447

IMG_4450

IMG_4429

IMG_4444

For me the accompanying descriptions were a bonus to what is already a stunning feat in Craig Lawrence's progression from a designer that would send tinsel trailing and flailing about to somebody whose work you can see in reality.  The yarns are still hanging loose but this time, it was really the silhouette exemplified in looks such as this opening full length dress that really took this collection to another level.  You want to call it elegant but you don't want to taint the collection with anything that might take away from Lawrence's forward-thinking notions towards knitwear.  Still, that e word lingered in a lot of the looks and for me there's a detectable trace of Alaia that can be seen in the movement of some of the piece, except of course Lawrence's unorthodox choice of materials creates a tension that cuts through any notion that this is plain ladylike…

IMG_4467

IMG_4471

IMG_4478

IMG_4481

IMG_4486 IMG_4493

IMG_4499

IMG_4507

I visited Craig's studio, in the deepest burrows of Somerset House to find out more about the different textures that went into this collection as well as finding that he has a penchant for the sort of knick knacks that you might find in Oxfam…

IMG_8343

Craig loves a ¬£1 treat every now and again… it's like giving yourself a gold star except there's iridescent varnish, pandas and dolphins involved…

IMG_8360

IMG_8345

In addition to the kyototex yarns that Lawrence has favoured for the past few seasons, he also used a knitted plastic cellophane that was made into a yarn and chunkily knitted into cardigans and dresses…

IMG_8354

IMG_8347

Other chunky textures included this velvet that was shredded to make a yarn and then made into this pleasingly thick knit…

IMG_8348

The basis of a lot of the pieces started with a circular shape that when knitted into different sizes could create different shapes and volumes in the dresses when stitched together so effectively there weren't any straightforward seams in a lot of the pieces…

IMG_8368

Another variant to Lawrence's knit arsenal was this jersey that was also shredded to make a yarn which probably proposes one of the more wearable textures.  Jersey-loving me of course is in favour of this soft and slightly unconventional knit.  // The circlular pieces in some of the dresses were sometimes reinforced with cord at the edges to give it structure.  It needs to be emphasised that movement in Lawrence's pieces is extremely important and from hanger to model, the pieces are transformed in such a way that has you wondering whether the person wearing his clothes is doing something specifically slinky to make them move so well.  Nope, the slink is all down to the engineering of the fabrics…

IMG_8366 IMG_8363

I also lvoed this kyototex mixed with elastic which created a great stretchy knit.  Stretch is always good in my books…

IMG_8372

Lawrence is looking at Martin Parr's photographs for his next collection… who knows what will come out of that but in any case Parr's imagery is always inspiring on some level or another…

IMG_8376

As a memento of my exploration of all things Craig Lawrence, I took away these arm warmers which demonstrates the changing properties of this kyototex/elastic knit, revealing more flesh than I had initially thought.  Like I said, the same goes for the rest of his A/W 11-12 collection, where seeing his pieces on body is essential to understanding his proposition in knitwear, one that seems to be ready to be elevated to another level…

IMG_8637

Comments (23)

  1. lyrebirdgully says:

    such fascinating structures… whelks, seaweed, corsets,the underside of crinolines, chain mail, the models’ Victorian hairstyles – all so Romantic! I can’t get enough of this sort of knitwear. And your arm-warmers are a delight!

  2. sarah jones says:

    Wow,that just mind blowing,whatever this thing is it’s just outstanding and looks amazing i love these selves the pattern it’s just wow.!

  3. Steff says:

    Wow, I tend to stay away from knitwear, but Craig’s work is unbelievable! I would love one of the long dresses.

  4. Nina says:

    amazing looking dresses, but even more amazing when you discover the process that went into making them! cool arm warmers btw, very glee 🙂
    http://watermelonfeet.blogspot.com

  5. Floz says:

    how beautifully intricate are these designs? they remind me of whispery cobwebs.

  6. piril says:

    great textures and works,you always choose the bests :))
    http://fashionbong.blogspot.com/

  7. margief says:

    the textures and ways in which the materials are made are just fascinating. i love clothes that really have something interesting about them and really amaze me
    margief
    x
    http://www.margieheartsclothes.blogspot.com

  8. Freya says:

    I am so gutted I couldn’t go this year, next year hopefully!
    Great post <3
    http://www.frockspotter.blogspot.com

  9. mimi says:

    the 6th photo you posted (yea….i counted) is AMAZING. the close-ups are great too. i really love that you do this. that you write about things other than what you wear because it so much more interesting! the things people are trying with fabrics are so fascinating. i am waiting for the day people just abandon fabrics and draw on the models..and maybe use paper….that will be the era for me!
    http://lebellemimi.blogspot.com

  10. This knitwear is making me go OM NOM NOM.

  11. january says:

    crrrraaaaazyamaaaazing!
    january, x
    jessicajanuary.com

  12. Shelley says:

    I just started taking a knitting class, so I am wildly impressed with what Craig Lawrence has done with knitwear–I love the crazy textures and patterns. I lust after a pair of the arm warmers like you have, and those laddered stockings; they would make any outfit into something amazing!

  13. Lauren says:

    I love knits, especially gothy-glitzy-trashy knits made from recycled material. Mmmm

  14. Duck says:

    I really enjoyed this presentation, the narrator was very relaxing and I liked how the models stopped, turned slowly and waited for you to take their photograph from different angles. Very clever… I also desperately want the bolero jacket that was made of knitted cellophane and am trying to convince my mother to buy some bigger knitting needles so she can make me something similar.
    xxx
    Duck

  15. great article here. I like the texture. Thanks for sharing. Keep it up.

  16. so interesting to see knit translated so smoothly into eveningwear !

  17. anne says:

    wow! beautiful knits! can I call it knit when it’s so small?

Comment below