The Real Christmas Jumper | The Aran Jumper

Word to the wise: no one feels fun and festive in an itchy acrylic sweater with 3D felt antlers.

The Christmas sweater of 2015 is an altogether more appealing proposition: the Aran knit. That deliciously cosy, creamy coloured cable-knitted sweater that whispers good taste – and this season no cold-winter wardrobe should be without one. “It has stood the test of time because it’s chic and practical,” says Michael Kors, who included  an Aran with elbow-length sleeves and a sweet Peter Pan collar on  his autumn catwalk. “When the temperature dips, everyone wants a knit that looks good and feels amazing. The Aran is a lasting  design of beautiful craftsmanship and texture; it’s universally flattering and is incredibly versatile, too; it works well with almost anything.”

Michael Kors

Michael Kors

A brief history: the Aran sweater dates back to 1892 and takes its  name from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. Traditionally knitted by the wives of fishermen to keep their husbands warm and dry at sea (they are usually made from 100 per cent wool that retains its natural lanolin, making it water resistant), the various patterns signified the village where the fishermen came from. Also, every weave relates to the fishing world: the cable indicates a fisherman’s ropes; the honeycomb knit symbolises the hard-working bee; the basket weave represents a basket brimming with a bountiful catch; the zigzag stitch recalls the twisting pathways along the cliffs; and the diamond design is a sign of wealth and prosperity. Years later, the style crossed the Atlantic to Hollywood, where Aran sweaters soared in popularity during the Fifties and Sixties, endorsed by Steve McQueen and Grace Kelly.

The knitting needles went into overdrive this season. Arans were everywhere: spotted at Valentino, where creamy, slouchy styles boasted a graphic black triangle intarsia; at Altuzarra they took on a shade of dove grey and were tucked into racy pencil skirts; while over at Max Mara, toffee-coloured and oversized styles proved just the ticket under one of the house’s famous camel coats. There were highly worked styles, too, like those at Alexander Wang – the cool girl’s Aran – which were studded and threaded with silver chain; at Delpozo, where Josep Font whipped up a masterpiece bursting with shaggy fringe and woolly coral-like curls; and over at Sacai, where Chitose Abe concocted something entirely new from the humble Aran knit, splicing hers with crisp white cotton shirting and elongating the style into a sweet kick-skirted sweater dress. But if it’s tradition you’re after, look no further than & Daughter, the family-run luxury knitwear label set up by former fashion PR Buffy Reid and her father, which offers several Aran styles, from shrunken to outsize to patchwork, all in 100 per cent British wool yarn  and made in Ireland.

altuzarra valentino

Altuzarra and Valentino

isabel marant sacai

Isabel Marant and Sacai

alexander wang max mara

Alexander Wang and Max Mara

“There are iconic garments such as blue jeans, the white T-shirt and military jacket that are so well achieved you will never tire of them, and the Aran knit belongs to that category,” says Isabel Marant, continuing, “I love its efficiency; it’s warm, comfortable and made out of rough wool that lasts for ages.” Her redux this season takes shape as a shrunken sailor sweater complete with glossy black shoulder buttons. “My mother has always hand-knitted. Since I was a child she knitted me amazing Aran sweaters. I still have some of them and they still inspire me.”

Nostalgia chimes with other designers, too. “During my late teens I would steal my father’s original Aran sweater,” says Louise Trotter, creative director at Joseph. “It was hand-knitted, heavy and slightly scratchy, but it could be styled with everything. Although my father is no longer here, his Aran sweater  is one of my few keepsakes. It’s  still in my wardrobe 20 years later,  a cherished piece waiting to be passed down to my daughter.”

Head to Joseph and you will find Louise’s latest design, which takes shape as a deconstructed layered patchwork piece complete with cables, cardigan stitch (a Joseph original) and stretched-out sleeves for a borrowed-from-the-boyfriend vibe. “Personally I can’t wait to wear it,” she adds. “It will be my winter comfort blanket.”

Felt antlers not included.


Spring/Summer 2015 Emilio Pucci

THAT Seventies Show – is fast becoming the way to sum up Milan Fashion Week, from Gucci to Prada and onto Emilio Pucci.

“It’s always resonated with me. I think it’s a reaction,” said Pucci creative director Peter Dundas backstage by way of explanation. “I really wanted to do it last time so just thought I’m just going to do it.” Fair enough.

Whether the fashion forces of Milan got together to conspire in favour of the era or not, it’s on next summer’s agenda for sure – but it just depends on what kind of Seventies spirit you are.

“It’s my girls,” said Dundas, referring to Poppy Delevingne who was bejewelled and Pucci-fied out front. What he meant was that bohemian and carefree spirit – but situated in a contemporary context.

And this was very much a happy-hippy collection: plunge-neck crochet dresses embroidered with flowers, be-tasselled ponchos of the same effect, wispy butterfly-billowing maxi dresses, psychedelic shades and prints of Zap ice lolly optics, waistcoats, skinny suits, flares – tick, tick, tick for the Seventies. There were even those orange and brown colour clashes.

Halter necks, empire lines, gypsy tops and gilets – the repertoire continued as a mash-up of Fleetwood Mac played out – and then Naomi Campbell took a turn on the catwalk.

With all its colour and exotic psychedelic prints, Pucci is a brand that sits well in the Seventies – and will do in the second wave of the Noughties with so many trend boxes ticked this season.

Click below and shop the vibrant collection of Spring/Summer 2015 Emilio Pucci:
 

 

 

 

 

 


Spring/Summer 2015 Viktor & Rolf

VIKTOR & ROLF got bitten by the sportswear bug for their spring/summer 2015 collection today, unfamiliar territory for the duo who have a penchant for performance wares. Well, these were performance wares of a different variety – less froth and drama, more streamlined scuba shorts and leggings, jogging bottoms and little vests.

But they came with a side of extravagance and the unexpected – voluminous, inflated, gathered and twisted floral tops that used the torso as a canvas to create hugely contrasting shapes to the sleek nature of what was below. Not exactly practical for a workout.

These tops were draped and pulled and fashioned, entwined and tucked and there came a continuation of the sports note by the use of mesh on some of them too.

Sportswear has found itself providing the fashion fuel for many a designer collection these past few seasons so their dabbling into it now couldn’t help but feel a little late.


Spring/Summer 2015 Issey Miyake

At the end of the Issey Miyake show, there was a rare fashion moment as the audience stomped and cheered for designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae to take one more bow. It’s been a while since Issey featured as a must-see on the crowded fashion calendar, but anyone who goes to these shows regularly knows they’ll witness a special fusion of creativity, craftsmanship, intelligence, and plain old jaw drop. Well, maybe the special effects aren’t always jaw-dropping, but they usually elicit a heartily spontaneous reaction, as happened today when a handful of models walked onto the catwalk with organic portfolios that they rapidly unfolded and converted into springy, concertina-pleated items of clothing resembling the fun technical world of origami. The helpful explanatory notes on each guest’s seat described a process of “hand-pleating on the curve.”

Today’s theme was Miyamae’s excuse for a collection that focused on organic shapes and patterns to mesmerizing effect. Graphically abstracted prints created an almost Art Deco sense of movement, which was in tune with developments elsewhere in fashion this season. In fact, the graphics and silhouettes were generally more…what’s the best word for this?…familiar than they sometimes are: Tailored jackets and coats, slim pants tucked into boots, and oversize blanket wraps provided a context for the marriage of artisan and machine that creates purest Miyake. The technique du jour was steam-stretching, in which computers program steam heat to shrink jacquard fabrics into three-dimensional grooves. That mechanical process yielded gorgeously organic fabrics, patterned like tree rings, which Miyamae cut into poetic shapes that shivered sensuously as the models walked.

A line from the show notes, presumably endorsed by Issey himself, best defined the overall uplift of the show: “Cloth harbours the power of life: wrap yourself in it and feel an instantaneous metamorphosis into pure joy at the wonder of living.” Translation: For God’s sake, if it feels good, do it.

Click below to shop more of Spring/Summer 2015 Issey Miyake and explore the brands organic, origami and mesmerizing designs: