Whether you tip toed through the end of 2010 holiday parties with a naughty or nice outlook is really something between you and the man with the untamed white beard. We are already gazing ahead to spring/summer 2011, particularly with numerous fashion week line-ups now at our slush-saturated heels. An upcoming fashion trend that might surprise you in this era of recession-studded austerity is an increasing fascination with macramé, crochet, and hand-made lace. Both Fashionising and Style.com have announced that caftans and hippie-chic ponchos have been upgraded to luxurious and supremely feminine offerings for 2011. A testimony perhaps to our desire for fashion that demonstrates the labor of love that goes into quality ethical construction and accessories that also tell a story?
As a fiber artist I am always looking for evidence of stunning handwork in key fashion investment pieces. I have also admired how both indie and sustainable fashion designers were the first to go “knotty by nature,” ahead of celebrated names like Celine, Catherine Malandrino, Gucci, or Pucci. London-based zero-waste designer Mark Liu even created a knotting system as a way to eliminate textile waste in the creation of his Winter 2010 collection, “Singularity Point.”
There is definitely something alluring about donning fiber-crafted fashion – as the cord, yarn, or ribbon simply gets softer and more malleable with wear. Knotted couture is actually an ancient phenomenon. The earliest skirt on record is a Paleolithic mini-skirt made of knotted strings that were weighted with tiny pebbles that went klickety-klack as women swished in front of the campfire. We have evidently come along way, ladies, if Roberto Cavalli is now keen on creating body-hugging string gowns for the rock-chick Venuses of our times.
Xing-Zhen Chung Hilyard and Melissa Kirgan of Eko-lab have incorporated some wild and knotty crochet into their sustainably minded fashion designs, principally as organic trim elements but also as a head-to-toe testament to their slow design alchemy. I loved the crocheted top hat and fringe shawl from their AW 2010/11 collection. These “conscious fashion” pioneers also know how to whip up some superfine and sexy crocheted bikinis that rival anything that our Stone Age counterpoints might have crafted.
Michelle Lane’s Japanese cord jewelry collections twine mysticism and the patterns of physics into sculpted wearable art that creates a certain intimacy between the wearer and the object. Lane views her necklaces and bracelets as being more of an extension of clothing than jewelry, and given that she crafts each piece by hand, there is no doubt that this designer has a healthy-preoccupation with organically generated and mindful, small-scale production.
Similarly, award-winning Brit designer Tanvi Kant explores wild knots and loopy crafting in her recycled sari fabric necklaces and free form textile creations. Not only is she resourceful in her deconstruction of discarded textile materials, but her one-of-a-kind designs also allow for expression of her cultural heritage and colorful roots. Each knotted design can be artfully shaped on the body according to the individual’s accessorizing whims. Also not to missed on the recycled scrap textile front is designer Michelle Lowe-Holder’s Victorian-style “ribbon Reclaim” neck wear crafted from off-cut fabrics from previous collections and reclaimed ribbon flocked together on a crochet base. (Thanks, Sass Brown, for this tip).
A quick peruse on eBay for eco-macramé or knotted accessories offers up a whole treasure trove of hemp rope bracelets, hippie-style belts, and yes, you guessed it, hanging plant holders. One seller who really stands out, though, is Imperishable Things. Knots can be deceptively simple, and these recycled cotton and nylon rope designs caught my eye with their chic domestic interpretation of cord. Don’t you just love it when yesterday’s clothesline can become tomorrow’s cocktail party conversation starter as noose-style bling?
Top Image, Tanvi Kant via Crafts Council UK