Inspired by 90s minimalism and taking references from sculptural works, the autumn winter 2012 collection from knitwear designer Derek Lawlor reveals a unique interplay between hard and soft. Building upon his signature form of fitted silhouettes and unusual textures, the collection introduces loose ladder and lace techniques. It also features a mixture of corduroy embellishment and knotting detailing, all the time demonstrating Lawlor's love of textiles and artisan approach to his work. When I asked Lawlor why he chose to work in knitwear, he responded; "Knitwear allows me to push the boundaries between art and fashion". He continued, "I design for the confident woman. She seeks innovation, art and luxury."
Fascinated with the physical properties of his materials, Lawlor's designs test the possibilities of fabrics as they are manipulated into complex new forms. Overall Lawlor is questioning the boundaries of bespoke knitwear, continually developing his techniques. In the new collection, mixed yarns and different knit textures (mohair, cashmere and rayon) provide a highly tactile and dramatic ensemble of garments created in a palette of vibrant reds and stormy greys. "I have a couple of favourite pieces" Lawlor told me, "The fiery red ladder dresses which inject colour amongst the monochrome palette. Also the over-sized mohair tassel scarf which has such impact visually and stays true to the sculptural aesthetic of my label."
I first became aware of Lawlor last year. He collaborated with the Royal Ballet on a photographic shoot for The Economist / Intelligent Life Magazine with photographer Rick Guest and art director / stylist Olivia Pomp. "The success of the shoot led to a second editorial with 125 Magazine, in which I produced a range garments" Lawlor told me. "The link with the Royal Ballet dancers and my designs was truly special - they brought my garments to life." It was this experience that led Lawlor to use ballet dancers as models in the presentation of his spring summer 12 collection - a collaboration with long time friend and designer Jayne Pierson - at London Fashion Week. The enchanced audio and visual appeal led to phenomenal reactions by the audience; "Our audience were gasping," says Lawlor. "This was probably the best moment of my career so far."
Future plans for Lawlor include the continual development of his signature embellishment techniques along with the introduction of new design elements to his spring summer 2013 collection. "Structural, hand-woven pieces sit against soft layered silhouettes, incorporating delicate silk screen prints inspired by my embellishment patterns" Lawlor explained. With his garments a true testament to his craftsmanship and vision, I'm excited to watch Lawlor evolve further.