Posted Thursday 24 June 2010
It's bold, it's bright and it's created quite a stir since it burst on to the catwalk during Graduate Fashion Week. Kingston University designer Lucy Hammond's latest work has left no one in any doubt that, when it comes to pushing the conventional boundaries of knitwear, she means business.
In a collection daringly titled "I love knitting, I'm not sh*tting", Lucy has showcased how strongly she feels about her specialist subject in a range of dresses influenced by 1950s' couture and the work of French designer Sonia Rykiel. The garments combine a vibrant explosion of red, orange, yellow and black woven into an attention-grabbing mix of stripes and chevrons.
A chance conversation with a new acquaintance sparked the idea for the collection. "He asked me to tell him something unexpected about myself and I replied that I loved knitting," the 22 year old from Albury, near Guildford, recalled. Lucy's surprising response left such an impression on her friend that he presented her with a handmade badge reading "I love knitting, I'm not sh*tting" and the theme for her final-year Kingston University project was settled then and there. "One of my main goals has been to challenge traditional perceptions of knitwear," Lucy said. "I'm really keen that people start viewing knit as a versatile fabric rather than conjuring up images of jumpers or cardigans any time it gets mentioned."
Lucy's dresses were made on the Kingston Fashion Department's top-of-the-range Shima knitting machine. A conscious decision to use different weights of yarn, including cottons, lurex and embroidery thread, gave the fabric extra fluidity and helped the young designer achieve a sheer effect for a more seductive and luxurious feel. "I deliberately created silhouettes that used shape and volume at the back while keeping the front of the garments tightly fitted to the body," Lucy explained. Sequins and bows add a feminine finish to many of the garments.
With no qualms about proclaiming her passion for all things knitted, Lucy went as far as emblazoning her collection slogan across a red and black striped jacquard dress and an over-sized scarf for her Graduate Fashion Week début. "My outfits certainly seemed to make people sit up and pay attention but nobody has told me off for using bad language - at least not yet," she said. In fact, the reaction has been quite the opposite. As well as seeing her shortlisted for Graduate Fashion Week's prestigious BHM Visionary Knitwear Award, some of Lucy's work has even been photographed by leading lensman Rankin.
With a passion for theatre costumes and vintage clothing, Lucy has come a long way since her first attempt at knitting a scarf for baby brother Henry at the tender age of seven. During three years' studying on Kingston University's BA (Hons) Fashion course, she has worked closely with the team at leading menswear label Sibling, even turning her talents to helping develop showpieces for Jasper Conran, Antonio Berardi and Giles Deacon. With her BA studies behind her, Lucy already has her sights set firmly on her next knitwear project - completing a Master's degree at the Royal College of Art.
Lucy's leap into the industry limelight has come as no surprise to senior Kingston University lecturer and knitwear specialist Sam Elliott, who predicts the star student is destined for a high-flying future. "Lucy's work is a direct translation from her illustrations and reflects her personality and sense of humour," Ms Elliott said. "Her attention to detail, with chevron trims highlighting the seams, adds extra interest to the garments and the strength of the collection lies in the blocking of colours and mix of yarns. Referencing a classic silhouette, Lucy has used the advanced knitwear technology we have at Kingston University to create an impressive, creative and commercial collection."