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Thank You Chanel! Article in The New York Times Today November 1, 2012

Posted by myblueheavenknits in Uncategorized.

I subscribe to the Fashion section of The New York Times as I want to keep track of trends in the knitwear market.  I am sharing an article with my readers today regarding the resurgence of wool and knitwear in fashion thanks to Chanel and Prince Charles of England.  Sorry the pictures weren’t captured, but here is the text.

October 29, 2012

Wool Gets a Chance at the Top


LONDON — When Chanel announced this month that it was taking over a cashmere mill in the Scottish border town of Hawick, it was more than a story of a luxury company riding in shining armor to the rescue.

In buying Barrie, the knitwear company that filed for bankruptcy, the French couture house was putting knitting up there with other noble crafts.

On Dec. 4, Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel, will present in Edinburgh his latest “Métiers d’Art” show — a collection that showcases the artisanal suppliers that Chanel started to buy up and protect a decade ago.

These suppliers include great couture specialists: Lemarié, the feather maker; the inimitable embroidery house of Lesage, whose founder, François Lesage, died last year; the embroidery house Montex; Massaro shoes; the hat maker Maison Michel; the jeweler Goossens; and other button, flower and glove specialists.

These suppliers have been grouped into a Chanel project called “Par Affection,” meaning “for love.” But whereas most of this group’s work is destined for Chanel’s haute couture, Barrie Knitwear is a separate type of acquisition related mainly to ready-to-wear.

Announcing the Scottish investment, which will safeguard 176 jobs, Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s fashion president, said: “The acquisition of Barrie business by Chanel is all the more natural as the factory has worked with us for more than 25 years, producing cashmere knitwear including Chanel’s iconic two-tone cashmere cardigans.”

“Through this acquisition, we reaffirm our commitment to traditional expertise and craftsmanship, and our wish to safeguard their future and support their development,” the executive said.

Mr. Pavlovsky might have added that it was time to elevate knitting — once a pastime of Scottish fishermen’s wives, when their woollen-sweater clad men were at sea — to a more lofty level.

Or as the Campaign for Wool, supported by Prince Charles, puts it: “All we are saying, is give fleece a chance.”

The ecologically aware prince has also done his best to promote wool, organizing a Campaign for Wool Week from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21. Its aim was to celebrate the diversity of wool in fashion, as well as in the home.

The initiative was developed under its royal patronage by the Campaign for Wool — a coalition of industry groups aiming to educate people about the benefits of wool and also to highlight its premium quality.

“It is to explain the benefits of this wonderful natural fiber and to raise awareness,” the prince has said, adding that he thought not using wool was “a waste of a valuable renewable project.” He made these comments during men’s fashion week in the summer in London and has repeated them on a video.

In an answer to the royal cris de coeur, fashion has re-embraced knitwear this autumn. Major brands have pushed thick wool to the forefront. And, significantly, after years of being reduced to a fashion afterthought as a little cardigan or a lacy sweater, this winter 2012 season has seen the renaissance of the bold, bulky and chunky sweater.

Yet the whole point of the new knitwear is to use the lightest of yarns to give an illusion of dense and thick knit, when light and airy is the reality.

Instead of body hugging, curvy shapes, the new-look sweaters and cardigans stand away from the torso, maybe curving up at the front and down at the back. As likely to be worn with skirts as pants, the head-to-toe knit look is also back in vogue for the first time since the mix-and-match sportswear of the 1970s.

The digital world has revolutionized knitting, as so much else in the fashion world. The checks and squares that have been a knit pattern for centuries are now worked on screen, to give a three-dimensional effect. And the current enthusiasm for mixing prints has migrated from cotton or silk dresses to knitwear.

Can knitting, with its origins in hearth and home, really be high fashion?

The story is more about the quality and authenticity of a pure wool product, particularly in a fashion world when the traditional winter coat is often now exchanged for down-filled nylon or other synthetic fabrics.

Wool is the ultimate ethical product: created naturally, sheared off with no harm to sheep and available hand- or machine-made with no effect on its handler.

Its reputation can only rise when the yarn is blessed by brands at the highest level. And just as it seemed that the big, bold sweater was the only way to go, Dior came up with a different version.

In the first ready-to-wear Dior show from Raf Simons, the designer went back to a style first put forward by the American heiress Gloria Guinness 60 years ago: the ball skirt worn with a taut top, knitted in fine, black wool: from lowly fleece to a fashion high.



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