(UN)THREAD MY HEART: Grama & Magaly Guillen

[Part of Vancouver-Istanbul fashion sister cities coverage]

Knitwear. Sigh. The lost mitten, the (mis)matching scarf, the unavoidable sweater… We count and depend on knits for warmth to the point of taking their utility for granted. “But is it fashion, you know?” Lingering in creativity limbo between arts and crafts, knitwear has long been a surefire go-to subject for the form-vs-function debates. Vancouver Fashion Week gave its audiences a chance to experience fall-winter collections from two distinctly different South American designers. Whereas one lacked a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to seize attention, the other made up for it with exuberance fit only for a select few closets. Why is it that when it comes to knitwear on the runways, it is either not exciting enough or not entirely wearable? Seems like the proverbial golden mean here is a tangled ball of contradictory expectations.

Magaly Guillen is a Peruvian designer based in Lima. Their bright collection featured voluminous ensembles destined to be stunning pieces for fashion media editorials and avant-garde music videos. Strutting that cylinder footwear is performance art already! Engaging and entertaining as a showcase, the who-would-wear-it question remains invitingly open. I’d love to see these pieces in non-exhibition environments. If you got ‘em, flaunt ‘em via email to me!

GRAMA is a Brazilian brand by designer Ana Sudano. “Brazilian suppliers and fabrics are a precondition for the existence of the company, as well as the use of craftsmanship, services and products from companies with strong social responsibility policies.” Eco-sustainability and human rights advocacy provide added value to otherwise ordinary garments. Mesh, again. Still, good enough. This is not a critique of Grama (Grama is all-right), mine is an open field inquiry.

The current knitwear crisis can also be viewed as its renaissance! One on hand, the Ugly Sweater contest has become an office/family party theme perennial staple for the winter holidays season. On the other, in the last decade Yarn Bombing has revitalized urban public space activist practices. Fashion designers who bravely pursue knitwear (we gotta acknowledge the peculiar passion it takes to venture into this particular territory) continue to tag-loop-pull this industry segment into the future.

ATTN, QUESTION: Y’all, who else is doing worthwhile knitwear work? Do tell! London-based Canadian maverick Mark Fast comes to my mind, but he is technically beyond post-paris geographical/conceptual boundaries. However, since we’ll inevitably keep returning to this topic, let’s keep the names and ideas spinning… postparisfashion@gmail.com

 

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