Thursday, 2 May 2013

Versatile Natural Wool

This week, I'd like to celebrate wool - smooth felt, soft cashmere, fine merino, knubbly boucle, thick worsted, strong tweed and everything in between.   Let's celebrate 'Wool Week'; part of a global 'Campaign for Wool' initiated by HRH Prince Charles and launched in Australia in 2011 at Admiralty House, Sydney, which aims to educate the world about the natural benefits of wool.  More about the campaign here.  The roving campaign circles the globe and focuses on each countries' industry (artisans, farmers, designers, students) and it is our turn this week to celebrate with exhibitions (Wool Modern in Sydney), events and retail displays in major department stores.

Used by designers, tailors, seamstresses and upholsterers alike, Wool boasts a myriad of benefits including durability, easy care, uv protection, natural, renewable, fire retardant, breathable and biodegradable.  As a furnishing fabric, it's durability and fire retardant threshold make it a popular choice for natural furniture coverings (cushions, pillows, throws, blankets, sofas).   As a fashion fabric of choice, along with its natural structure allowing breathability, it's the durability and multi-climactic nature of the fibres that are sought after with it's diversity as the finished textile which covers many styles such as merino, mohair, cashmere, worsted woollens, felt, tweeds, boucle, suiting and cool wool.

From humble beginnings gaining popularity with Roman Emperors for its softness, to it's use on the battlefields during the Napoleonic Wars for its durability and warmth, (I was awestruck when I saw an authentic Napoleonic wool uniform 'still standing' 200 years later, during an exhibit at the Gallery last year) and onto it's establishment within Savile Row tailors and it's 'peacocking' on fashion catwalks nowadays - it's the versatility and adaptability which renders wool timeless.

I love how Vivienne Westwood describes her love of, and relationship with, wool from an early age here.


Balenciaga Coat / Photo Irving Penn  1950

Wool has certainly seen a shift in image from a heavy, sombre textile to something refined, sexy and elegant which is used by reknown fashion houses world-wide.  And we also see a major push for the use of Australian Merino Wool, with the naming of Narcisco Rodriguez as Ambassador for Merino wool in the No Finer Feeling global campaign - Narcisco calls it 'a noble and versatile fibre'.


Narcisco Rodriguez - Fall 2013

I loved this short video featuring Aussie designer Josh Goot in his studio as he and his team put together creations for a 'modern, urban woman', and talk about his inspiration and merino wool's drape and suppleness, strength and softness; Australian wool will always be sought after for this versatility and ease.


Josh Goot tailored jacket

And here, Collette Dinnigan, the only Australian Designer invited to show at Paris Fashion Week by the Chambre Syndicale, discusses her love affair with Australian Merino wool.  Partnering with The Woolmark Company, Collette showed her A/W 2013 collection in Paris earlier this year, showcasing the textile in stunning feminine cocktail dresses and stoles - marrying sensuality and practicality for your wardrobe.


Collette Dinnigan

And what better way to highlight the use of wool, than the recent International Woolmark Prize which was won by Belgian designer Christian Wijnant (following in the footsteps of previous winners Yves St Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld no less) and judged by notable designers Donatella Versace, Victoria Beckham, Diane Von Furstenberg and Carla & Franca Sozzani.  


Christian Wijnants

For me, there are several woollen items in my wardrobe and throughout the home - a felt cape, a couple of pairs of fine wool pants, a boucle coat, numerous shawls and wraps, wool tights, an alpaca throw, a wool upholstered pouf,  and several wool blankets... look around, and I'm sure you will find you have already joined in the celebration of this illustrious, adaptable textile in your place as well.  

I'm off to try and find something else to add to the wardrobe for this winter - a beautiful woollen jumper.  I just saw this soft example of warm winter woollen as showcased in this video by Country Road... enjoy.  (In fact, I found more than one jumper I'd like!)



Some more wool looks on the Fall 2013/14 catwalk-

Calvin Klein Collection/ Celine/ Stella McCartney/ Dries Van Noten/ Alexander Wang

And an oldie, but a goodie... a classic draped Prince of Wales Check at Versace-

Erin O'Connor for Versace Spring/Summer 1998 campaign


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6 comments:

C said...

That red dress is fabulous!
Im honestly still savoring all the spring-summer collections...I dont want to see a coat until next november!!!!!!

LatteLisa LisaHjalt said...

Interesting to find this post on your blog because I actually just recently learned about this International Woolmark Prize from some magazine that I was reading. It had somehow always escaped me and yet wool is big in Iceland; always has been.

Given that we have entered spring with warm and sunny days, I'm not exactly looking for wool items. But I did buy a wool pashmina earlier this year and love it. I was wrapped in that one every single day before spring arrived. And I'm still using it in the evening if it gets chilly.

Classiq said...

A celebration of high quality and style! Wonderful post, Helen! For now I'm going to enjoy cotton and linen (we're already having 30 degrees Celsius), but I will certainly add some more wool items to my wardrobe come autumn.

Classiq said...

PS: That Versace dress is stunning!

miss b said...

An interesting and informative post. I'm a huge fan of wool and you have found some wonderful examples here.
http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

Audrey said...

Great post Helen! I like the Balenciaga coat and the jumper from Country Road is my favorite, big and cosy!

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