Over the course of writing this blog one of the real highlights has been watching design promise blossom in to success first hand. Now, as we approach our fifth birthday we've featured the work of Carolyn Massey countless times. In a weird way it feels as though we've grow up together in this strange digital landscape. Massey completed her MA at the Royal College of Art in June 2005 and due to 'frustation, boredom, and demand', the designer launched her own label the following year. Continuing to evolve apace over several seasons, Massey helped pave the way for for London menswear as we know it. Recognised and rewarded by the British Fashion Council with its inaugural NEWGEN MEN, Massey's indisputable talent forged the way, not just for her own talent to blossom but for the hopefuls following close behind her. Our sartorial love affair with her is well documented on these pages but it was her SS11 collection that saw our obsessive love just got deeper. Every once in a while you encounter a collection that you wish hanged in your closet and for me this is my dream Spring/Summer wardrobe. I wanted it all. Sadly it was the last for her eponymous label but thankfully due to a few considered collaborations and consulting roles, Massey didn't stray too far from her minds. Building on this success we were thrilled by the recent announcement that she had taken the creative reigns for Lyle & Scott.
"There is so much untapped here. Lyle and Scott was started in 1870, we have a massive rich history to work with. Anyone who knows my work will know that’s massively exciting for me."
Massey on the attraction of Lyle & Scott.
Founded in 1847, Lyle & Scott and its Hawick-based factories (located on the Scottish border), will provide the designer with the knowledge, craftsmanship, tradition, heritage and opportunity to explore and ultimately develop. Throughout Massey's eponymous label and various collaborative projects, we have marvelled at the designer's ability to revive items from the past, bringing them in to a more contemporary light. As Head Designer at Lyle & Scott, the designer now has one hundred and thirty years worth of history to tap in to. "I knew it from the iconic yellow eagle. And as a brand that has links to golf, it has been appropriated by casuals in the 90s and indie kids in the 00s," the designer remarks over a flurry of emails sparked from our message of congratulations. Now that she has had a few official weeks there and the opportunity to explore its archive it now "means craftsmanship. I spent a week in Hawick chatting to people who were third generation working for Lyle & Scott and the pride they have in the brand. There's a lot of warmth and soul up there, something I want to refocus on."
During one of our many interviews, Massey lit up at the thought of having a huge archive to immerse herself in. We are so pleased that she has the opportunity to do so with Lyle & Scott. Following the excitement of the official announcement the designer offered to record her first trips to the factory and archive with an exclusive visual diary. We of course jumped at the chance to feature them...
"The archive is stunning. The soul and warmth that emanates from the stories within it are heartening. I went there to discover what we ‘owned’ visually. And there is a lot to draw from. It's really exciting. I have to be careful not to give too much away!"
Massey introduces her visual diary
"Taken at the factory in Hawick, in the Boarders. You can see a chap working the industrial embroidery machine. We work a lot with Golf clubs on special commissions on their jumpers."
"The jumpers are set into frames before embroidery"
"Ribs are knitted seperately on finer guage machines"
"The instarsia machine. Lyle & Scott is well known for its iconic intarsia."
"The rib is then linked on to the body"
"Bundles and footy scores"
"The inside out jumpers are then turned to the right way with this machine, believe it or not"
"Packed and good to go. Complete with Royal warrant"
"Inside the Boarders Textile Towerhouse, which celebrates local knitwear. Knitting needles of old."
"The Lyle & Scott football team in the 60s"
"A photograph of the Lyle & Scott factory in the 1900s."
"A wooden frame, used to shape the knitwear"
"A case featuring Craftsmanship, the Lyle & Scott magazine"
"Iconic Lyle & Scott as it was in the 90s "
"Labels. Lyle & Scott produced for Bergdorf Goodman, as well as others"
"Lyle & Scott has such an interesting history, including our own fire brigade!"
"Celebrated members of the L&S home guard"
"And the L&S nursing section"
"I had wonderful discussions with many people who had many tales to regale about the brand. A clear sense of pride shone through."
"A really beautiful design of the newsletter."
"And up to Shetland for to the Museum of Shetland Life – fair isle is still very much alive and celebrated here with local makers Jaimesons, and Andersons as well as Spiders Web and Shetland Designer Knitwear Workshop. Really exciting to see the craft in the flesh."
"The archive also has a library, I loved this cover."
"The museum also had other items exploring the history of making knitwear on Shetland. Some beautiful artifacts."
It should be quite clear from this series of images that Carolyn Massey is falling for the charms of Lyle & Scott and relishing her design challenge ahead. Her awe of the personality and history of the label is infectious and we cannot wait to see what comes next. We will feature this feature with a little tease of a quote from Massey; "There’s gentle evolution in the air. My aim for the collection is to emanate the love and pride that people have had for the brand historically."