20 January 2010

A Mohair Adventure

Pink, dark and light blue wool mohair sweater
Handknitted in loose stitches
Museum of London

(This is actually a pre-scheduled post as I am currently spending the day in hospital).

My journey started rather innocently, as all good stories tend to, in the Museum of London, where I happened to be looking over their dress collection. A passing reference, barely a whisper, to 'punk' caught my attention - not a style I had thought myself to relate to in any particular way, although I had always had an outsider's interest.

I turned swiftly around to whence the rustle had come, upon which my eyes fell upon a mannequin wearing what I could only describe at the time as a 'dream'. Thinking back to it now and my mind convinces me that the everything surrounding that image went hazy. A black wisp of mohair smoke obscured a red long sleeve top underneath. The wonderful softness of it all was juxtaposed violently with an array of shiny metal zips and heavy buckles that adorned the trousers paired with it below. A look of both incredible fragility and strength, it was made all the more striking when I discovered that the outfit had been worn by a young girl.

The image above is of a mohair sweater also to be found in the Museum of London's collection. Although the dreamy wisps of black seemed to have drifted their way quite welcome into my mind, it also made me think of the potential of such a garment. To be precise, I wondered how I would personally take such a garment and make it my own. I admired the softness of the mohair, and with my own penchant for colour, began to imagine an array of colourful sweets and sherbets. My mind always seems to work in curious ways, and for some reason I could not quite shake the idea of pastel sherbets and how those colours would work in mohair.

These mohair sweaters from the late 1970s were bought and worn by young girls. They were, in their own way, following punk fashion. They took their inspiration from the mohair sweaters, as worn by members of the Sex Pistols, available at Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren's boutique on the King's Road, the infamous Seditionaries. One could easily be swept away in the drift that is the mythologisation of Seditionaries/SEX, however its impact cannot be overstated. I had never previously paid images of the clothing produced their too much attention, for ironically I found myself hesitant to approach the images and slogans that were so intentionally shocking.

Original sweater

I decided to search for references to the garments that had inspired these young girls some 30 years ago, and whose celebratory imitations had so enlivened my imagination. The image above is an original loose knit sweater sold at Seditionaries. I was fascinated with the stark contrast of the colours and asymmetrical nature of sweater. Indeed the initial thoughts I had had of brightly coloured or pastel-mix sweaters were temporarily put aside. I found the inherent strength of the black, white and red against the loose knit and soft yarn embodying the entirity of the original outfit which had so greatly inspired me.

A single spark can ignite an entire fleet and send you on a journey you never thought you would take...

(My apologies for the low quality images)

I had this sweater handmade for me, and the knowledge of that individuality is of beauty itself. I am now considering the potential for colour play (similar to my imaginings of Rick Owens washed leather jackets in pastel colours, or Yohji Yamamoto suits in bright block colours).

Of course many of my readers will no doubt see certain parallels between this journey through historical dress and certain contemporary fashion. And this would be an incomplete post not to give that area mention. I speak of course, of Rodarte.

Fall 2008

Spring 2009

Mohair crewneck
via Opening Ceremony

Rodarte have given ladies ample opportunity to invest in their technically brilliant mohair constructions, however they also recently released options for men. Opening Ceremony currently stock a number of mohair offerings by Rodarte, although given the price tag I may just stick to my own mohair sweater instead.

Currently playing: Up, Up And Away - Kid Cudi



  1. and you look just lovely in it : )

  2. I love the narrative arc of this post! wonderful to trace the connections visually and theoretically...

    And you look fantastic in your interpretation. I love the cobwebby quality.

    I hope all goes ok at the hospital my dear x

  3. Fantastic post; I'm lucky enough to have a grandmother who hoards... and many vintage treasures as a result :)

  4. I still dream of those Rodarte looks ... and your handmade mohair jumper is truly fantastic!

  5. awesome..creation..knit or crochet? I must study it.

  6. really, we need more angora goats around for these kind of things...

  7. so fab for winter...and anytime..its a rock'n roller...

  8. Awesome sweater! Sorry to hear you're in the hospitable again though. Feel better!

  9. Hope everything is okay with you being in the hospital.

    Rodarte has had me reconsidering mohair, looks great in the punk world too.

  10. aww that's awesome, I can't wear things like that I get this itchy feeling. but I love the way it looks on you. especially the design.

  11. You look great, I need to get my mum to knit me something like this!

    Hope you're in and out of the hospital swiftly. x

  12. Awesome pictures!!

    Handmade accesories, clothing and so on are just gorgeous!

  13. Brings to mind modern day chain mail...so brilliant! Hope you are feeling better!

  14. I love how your posts are like short stories. Brilliant! And the sweater looks quite dashing on you.


  15. First off, I hope you're OK! Sad to hear your are at the hospital.

    Secondly, these sweaters look so soft =)

  16. That sweater is an absolute dream.

    Thanks for making this connection, DK. I'd have missed it if you hadn't pointed it out, and back in the day, I considered myself a bit of a punk scholar.

    Thanks for schooling me!

    Rest well, my friend. I hope your stay in the hospital is beneficial.

  17. You know what, buy Wifi jammer to jam all secret devices in your room or at work.

  18. WWWAAAHHHH !!!!!!!!!! I adore !!!!
    You're so cool !

  19. Hope everything is OK at the hospital! I love the sweater you had made- how special! I love the red, black, and white combo! xo, Mel

  20. you already know how darling i think you are so i am going to focus all of my attention on i hope that you are okay!!! thinking of you and sending you warm wishes!

  21. you look fantastic, this is quite the eye-catcher!

  22. loving your sweater!


  23. You look great, awesome pictures. No doubt this is almost fantastic sweaters.

    Good day.
    Men's fragrance

  24. This has been VERY helpful for my A-Level Textiles project!