Once reserved for tea cosies, crochet is having a major moment on the catwalk as one of the most unlikely trends to emerge from the international fashion weeks.
Crochet bikinis, dresses and separates will weave themselves into new wardrobe options for Spring/Summer 2016 following repeated appearances on the runways of New York, Milan and London at shows including Burberry, Issa and Edun.
Tommy Hilfiger, Oscar de La Renta, Gucci and BCBG Max Azria were also among the labels showcasing an array of holey knits in wool and cotton in a kaleidoscope of colours ranging from rainbow brights to arctic white and the prettiest of pastels.
The most unexpected crochet moment came at Tommy Hilfiger during New York Fashion Week, when an array of models wearing crochet swimsuits emerged on an island getaway set including a lagoon, beach shack, sand and water.
Model of the moment Gigi Hadid led the way parade of crochet dresses, bikinis and cover-ups down the catwalk with a sunny side up vibe suggestive of all things tropical and holiday. Crochet vests and tops came in pink, purple and red stripes and even the briefest of knitted string bikinis were hand-worked to incorporate the classic crochet stitch patterns.
At Edun, the star of the show was a magnificent black and white zig-zag crochet dress with tasselled edges, in line with the “people of the cloth” theme of the show inspired by the traditional dress and crafts of central Africa’s Kuba people, while BCBG Max Azria also showed crochet pieces and Oscar de la Renta’s Peter Copping presented an edgy transparent crochet skirt and top in red.
Far from traditional and twee, crochet added an unexpected edge to garments as part of fashion’s continuing move away from minimalism and sportluxe to find a more feminine, romantic approach. Aided by fashion’s continuing obsession with the 70s, the reappearance of crochet also conjures memories of free love, Woodstock and hippy chic, and is likely to find fresh appeal among today’s generation of festival-goers. The revival of the arts and crafts movement and renewed interest in artisanal techniques may also explain the presence of crochet in Milan at Gucci via a splendid rainbow crochet cape and at Bottega Veneta with a crochet knitted navy and black panel bodice.
In London, designers hooked on crochet included Issa, one of Kate Middleton’s favourite labels, which showed luxe crochet pieces in white; and Burberry, which presented crochet shirts for men alongside the womenswear looks on its runway.
By far the most striking crochet pieces were the oversize deconstructed balaclavas knitted by Central Saint Martin’s graduate Angel Chen. Chen’s models looked more like mythical beasts than humans as they emerged onto the runway masked in elaborate mythical animal heads featuring crochet flowers, tassels and oversize stitching.
While the masks were at the most Avant-garde end of the crochet spectrum, there is something for almost everyone in the new season array of crochet ranging from romantic to renegade.
Join Susie Lau for an exclusive look at wool trends at London Fashion Week SS16