You’d be forgiven for not noticing that Derek Lawlor works purely in the realm of knitwear – so innovative and sculptured are his designs. As part of a new burgeoning team of designers, his pieces challenge and redefine the boundaries of knitwear design. Lawlor created his own unique style of wax cording, which he returns to in his latest collection. His talent has been picked up by the royal ballet, who commissioned several shoots, as well as several collaborations with other designers. Lawlor spoke to Wonderland about his alluring, otherworldly fall collection.
How and when did you set up the label?
It’s been going for nearly three years now. I kind of set it up by accident off the back of my masters graduate show, and then I’ve been developing it since. It’s been quite a slow organic process, getting used to the idea of being an artist and selling clothes. It still feels like early days; I’ve learnt so much since graduating. When you’re at uni you’re in a bit of a bubble.
I come from a textile background, before doing my masters I always specialised in textiles and I’ve always had a real love of different textures and fabrics and pushing them. I ended up specialising in knitwear – it wasn’t planned, I didn’t watch my grandma knitting and choose knitwear! It just kind of happened. It was something I experimented with and found you could do a lot with. I think for me, I wasn’t really following the techniques but seeing what else I could do. It’s about pushing the boundaries of your own designs. The knit part is the initial process and then I see how I can push it with my weaving techniques and the cording and embellishment once it’s off the machine.
How is knitwear changing?
At one point, knitwear was something that was part of a collection, you had your twinsets and your v-necks and whatever, but now there’s whole knitwear collections and you don’t even notice. I think it’s great that it’s gotten more modern. Its not just autumn/winter and Christmas jumpers anymore, it can be spring/summer or even swimwear. It’s becoming more recognisable. I do look back at old style knit patterns I was given by my Irish aunties for their Arran jumpers; it’s great to look back and see the tradition and techniques, but for me it’s about newness.
What techniques are you currently using?
I’m recognized for the wax cord, the original technique I came up with. That’s what my graduate collection and the two after that worked with. I took a break from it and did a collection with Jayne Pierson. I’d like to reintroduce the cord work in different ways, I left it for two seasons so it’ll be exciting to bring elements of it back.
What’s the inspiration behind the current collection?
This collection is based on Nomadic imagery. I’m interested in the merging and clashing of colours. That’s led me to look at more patterns and I’ve really been pushing colour this season. I’m known to be more monochrome so I’m really experimenting with it.
It seems like you have quite an experimental take on fashion?
I couldn’t do it any other way. I’m very experimental. It’s easy to follow a trend but to me I’m always pushing and looking for something new. I’m always thinking of the fabric first before I even think about the silhouette. I couldn’t do a bog standard plain knit. I think I’d get bored.
What are your plans for the future?
A lingerie company has approached me. They produce lingerie to wear with all types of garments. In the collaboration, “Derek lawlor for Nicole de Carle”, I’ll be designing a range of knitwear among the lingerie collection; it’ll be interesting to see how it works out.
Words: Shannon Mahanty