PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARCO CELLA
STYLING BY ELETTRA SIMOS
interview by carlotta buosi
Carlotta Buosi speaks to Helen Lawrence
Inhabiting everyone’s closet as unmissable staple item. Functional but often surprisingly fancy. Varied. Experimental. Comfortable. Knitwear is all of this and more, as designer Helen Lawrence knows too well. She’s actually been knowing it for a while now: MA graduate from Central Saint Martins, she went straight into specialising with this fascinating and extremely versatile textile, who’s endless options still haven’t managed to have her bored. School mate of great menswear designer Craig Green, the two have been collaborating for years, Lawrence’s knitted creations perfectly blending with Green’s aesthetic, despite him being just one of the many designers she’s been collaborating with, through the years. Creating both menswear and womenswear pieces, the Lawrence’s approach seems not to change between them, as she blurs the lines of gender, resets the rules and deletes the labels, by using a medium that definitely allows her to do so. After all – as Lawrence herself would say – knits are all around us.
What does fascinate you about knitwear and why did you decide to specialise on it?
It’s amazing to be able to create a fabric that’s unique to you and has your personal touch. The possibilities are endless: you can create garments from traditional materials, but it often ends up being something obscure too, like a wire or plastic bag.
You graduated from Central Saint Martins, in London. Can you tell us more about your experience there and how it helped you to shape you identity as a designer?
During my Masters at CSM I really got to know who I am as a designer and what I am all about. The course really encouraged me and helped me to understand a lot about myself, especially things I never knew I had in me.
Shortly after graduating, you began a long term collaboration with menswear designer Craig Green. Tell us about how you two met and why did you decide to work together.
We sat next to each other in school! That’s how it all started.
How does your approach change between womenswear and menswear design?
My approach doesn’t change at all. I think the lines between my men’s and women’s knits are very blurred. I like to think of my pieces as unisex, especially the sweaters. I design for myself and my friends and I’m definitely not strict about what I wear: I actually prefer boy’s jumpers, sweaters and jackets to more girly or strictly women’s pieces. I am not against dresses though: I love and wear them a lot.
Craig Green is not the only designer you’ve been working with, over the years. Can you tell us more about your other collaborations and how they differ from one another?
Everyone I’ve worked with comes from a very particular creative background. Lily Kamper and Slim Barrett – for example – make the most amazing jewelry, and Kult Domini creates incredible footwear. The final product of all these collaborations is completely different and so is the design process behind it.
Your design is often quite experimental, in regards with textures and colours you combine. How would you describe your style?
Relaxed knitwear with a language of its own.
Despite the need for experimentation, fashion has its rules, such as fit and coherence within the same collection. Do you perceive these rules as a border which limits you or as a chance to create something completely innovative?
I don’t perceive them as a limit in any way. I think fashion and creativity are about creating your own rules, having your voice, a point of view. You’re showing people who you are through your work, and trying to communicate something to them, the way you choose to do so it’s absolutely up to you. Personally, I enjoy both being innovative – pushing boundaries – and working commercially.
As I designer, would you say that it’s more important for you to establish your signature or keep on changing and evolving?
I think it’s extremely important to do both and keep some sort of balance between the two.
Do you consider knitwear as a textile able to allow endless room for evolution or do you see yourself working with other textiles too, in the future?
Knitwear is completely limitless, there’s always room for evolution with it. Every season I try to experiment with something slightly different – such as woven styles – but overall I know it’s knitwear for me, through and through.
models: Flavia at Elite, Blanka at Independent, Victoria at Crew
hair: Valentino Perini using Bumble & Bumble
make up: Michela Husanu using Aveda
photography assistant: Federico Freda
styling assistant: Camilla Fioravanti
All clothing by HELEN LAWRENCE