Style: Craig Lawrence A/W11

“Hand on heart, I can say without bias, Craig Lawrence is from a superior stratosphere sent to earth purely to knit & change the world with it,” tweeted Fred Butler during the Craig Lawrence presentation at London Fashion Week on Saturday.

This high accolade spells what is in store for the young designer from Ipswich, who has already been selected by Selfridges to design a window display for their Bright Young Things project this year. He filled his window with a billowing metallic-gold knitted dress with a mannequin emerging from it, dangled from the ceiling almost as an afterthought to his sensational design.

Lawrence takes the traditional medium of knit wear and distorts the boundaries, pushing it to the extreme and breaking conventions and preconceptions to create designs that are completely flamboyant, avant-garde and ground-breaking. For Autumn Winter 11 Lawrence took a heavy, almost gothic approach, using extra-thick gimp wool to create loose-knit, floor-length figure-hugging dresses. The look was saved from being too heavy and dark with neon orange nails and eyes.

He has said before that he takes his inspiration from a childhood growing-up on the Suffolk coast, where nostalgia and decay met ennui and tedium. It’s clear that here is a designer who always wanted to break the mould and his designs clearly show someone who has that desperation to leave average behind.

This drive is probably why he ended up producing knitwear for Gareth Pugh over six seasons, all before graduating from Central Saint Martin’s and also being chosen for NEWGEN sponsorship for four seasons. For Autumn/Winter 10 LONDON show ROOMS took his designs to New York to represent the cream of new British fashion talent. He has also worked with Levi’s, Casette Playa and Alexander McQueen and has been worn by trend-setting stars like Lady Gaga, Bjork and Patrick Wolfe. Hipster magazines like Dazed and Confused and i-D have celebrated his work, with Dazed’s Katie Shillingford being a long-time collaborator. Not bad for the young man who only graduated in 2008.

Stand-out looks for this season include a glittery knit midnight blue bodycon bandeaux dress and an open knit jumpsuit with ultra-flares, proving that the current 70s trend is in no way abating. Lawrence also used two veils, in nod to the Miss Haversham-esque theme of decay. One was a traditional knee-length design worn over a slim-cut dress, while the other was made out of the same piece of textile as the outfit, rising straight out of the neckline of the dress. Even the mid-calf boots had pieces of knit sewn to the leather as if to say to the world that there is nothing this man cannot knit.

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