The Friday during London Fashion Week last month was a busy one. After a shower of biblical proportions outside the Bora Aksu show, we ventured out of the hotel for four consecutive presentations. First was Edeline, then it was to John Smedley (the subject of today’s post), Renli Su and the Irish Design presentation. John Smedley, the 230-year-old knitwear brand, held an intimate event at the HUS Gallery on Hanover Street. Champagne was flowing and canapés were divvied out. More important than the free food and drink were the clothes. When most designers do small collections—there were eleven looks here—there are as many ideas as possible thrown in the viewers way. John Smedley was much more refined, simple and understated than that. There was the eleven looks, restricted to three colours: white, glass and sloe. The pieces were “carefully designed to layer with the next.” Not only is that interesting to imagine but it exemplifies strategic commercial planning. It was very clear that these pieces would fly off the shelves. Sometimes it’s not the digital print party dress, or the sequin appliquéd, multi-coloured skirt a woman wants. A basic selection of knitwear can often satiate a hunger; elegant but not boring.
Occasionally, I’ll list off notable celebrity wearers of a label. However, I don’t think many brands can say that Hollywood legends Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Tippy Hedren were fans of their label. Those are just prime examples. Even at that, they would’ve only worn the label approximately 170 years into its existence. This label transcends time and the clothes are still maintaining relevance.
Studying the collection carefully, you’ll notice reverse necklines, hem splits and fibre mix wrapping details. These hidden details were “designed to surprise and delight the wearer.” Personalisation is becoming more and more popular. You have monogrammed Louis Vuitton luggage, and engraved jewellery. On a more affordable note, these pieces have intriguing idiosyncrasies that most other knitwear brands fail to possess. That’s why those fall to the wayside.
The colours may be plain, and the shapes also. What made this collection enjoyable was the approach to the design. There were wraps and folds, kitschy sleeves, sash-like details and lovely knits. London, a city where anything goes and there are a million ideas hitting the runway; glitter, sequins, prints and every colour of the rainbow too. Sometimes it’s nice to take a breather, and take in a quiet collection.
Photos are my own