We are consistently inundated with collection unveilings and product drops. At times it feels as though our screens become a conveyor belt. A blur of items that leave us oohing, aaahing, reaching for our wallet or scratching our head in disbelief. However, the incessant pace of it all is often to the detriment of the product. With our latest feature series, Unpicking the seams, we want to celebrate and focus on the deserving. The series will take a deep breath and showcase our favourite items from each season and even take the odd look back. With a new season fast approaching (with August days that are more at home during October) and our love of a good knit, we kick it off with a longing look at a real highlight from Lou Dalton.
From the frustrated and disillusioned Seattle scene through to the discomforting ruthlessness of the Russian criminal underworld, Lou Dalton was influenced by feelings of discomfort and a desire to fit in for AW11. As a designer, Dalton is concerned with colour, texture, quality and finish and here, she continued to practice and hone her signature of rebellious English sportswear with a strong sense of detail. As always with this exciting design talent, knitwear is a key facet of the collection and here it is oversized to soften and texture to the tailoring. One of the real highlights was this fantastic heavy-gauge marl knit nicknamed white noise.
"Internally the piece was given the name of "WHITE NOISE", my fellas brother was in the studio one night as we were working our way through various swatches of knit, his reaction was spot on to what eventually became this sweater, "That looks like white noise....." and that was really the starting point. I do like a melange knit however; a standard melange is quite consistent throughout, I wanted this to be a little ad-hoc a little home made." Lou Dalton on the starting point of the knit.
The high neck and oversized shape do just that. Inspiration came from classic Melange knitwear, a very old crudely knitted scarf that the designer found and sweaters worn by the likes of Kurt Cobain during the height of the Seattle scene. Once Dalton has an idea of where she is going in terms of concept and design, she meets with the knitwear factory where this information is relayed, various swatches are requested to cover both the design and tension of knit required. Once approved, the sampling trials begin before a finished piece emerges.
"As I am not a trained knitwear designer but do have a good understanding of what I like and what technically works in terms of construction and knit. I start with the yarn research, I work with various yarn suppliers from the UK through to Italy, I will request yarn cards, along side of this I will research and look at a variation of knit techniques and stitches that I feel are relevant to the aesthetic that we are working on for the season as well as looking at vintage finds and contemporary knits. It is also very important for me to remind myself of what historically has worked for us in terms of sales etc. This particular exercise is possibly the most important part of the process, to try and nail what your consumer will relate to is key." Lou Dalton on the design process.
Since the labels inception in 2005, Lou Dalton has designed her collections with the same man in mind and has built up a strong following with the help of key early stockists including Daniel Jenkins and oki-ni. This season, Lou’s hard work and well crafted menswear has been given the recognition it deserves with a place in the well stocked shelves of Liberty's menswear basement space. The more men who discover this design talent the better. With the white noise sweater now in store, I jumped at the chance to try it on for size...
A closer look at Lou Dalton's White Noise Knit.
We'll leave you with Dalton's succinct description of the item, "WHITE NOISE....... 100% lambswool Crew neck sweater..... on sale at Liberty."