Transforming traditional knitwear into intriguing forms, Mei Lim Cooper takes a complex design road that yields distinctive and covetable clothing. Clean silhouettes are revealed as more than they seem upon closer inspection; the result of technical pattern cutting and an imaginative thought process.
Lim-Cooper completed both her womenswear BA and her MA specialising in knitwear at Central Saint Martins, freelancing in-between for Hussein Chalayan before moving onto Joseph where she says her interest in knits was sparked. A childhood obsession with boys’ clothing has perhaps also informed her masculine and streamlined aesthetic, minus the simplicity of more traditional sportswear. Dazed Digital spoke to Lim-Cooper about her background and what makes knits her material of choice.
Dazed Digital: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Mei Lim-Cooper: It centres on the innovative use of knit with a focus on minimal clean pieces, striking graphic silhouettes with a sportswear twist.
DD: Where do you get this innovative leaning from?
Mei Lim-Cooper: I grew up in London and when I was about four years old we moved in to an old Victorian terraced house, it was completely run down. My dad set about restructuring the property, and I was always there sifting through the debris, so from then on my life was constantly tied up with making things from all the scrap material lying around our house. He’s almost finished with the renovation now. This process of continual making and development alongside a great appreciation for quality materials and craftsmanship; these remain the building blocks of my work today.
DD: Your MA collection made it clear that you’re naturally skilled with knits. What do you like so much about the material itself?
Mei Lim-Cooper: The whole reason I wanted to specialise in knitwear was to get into the technical design of fabric: structure, density and composition, and how I can manipulate these elements to achieve a fabric that is going to hold its shape or produce a beautiful curve. With knitwear I can achieve silhouettes that appear effortless and are comfortable but actually have a lot of technical design behind them.
DD: You also seem to be drawn to the contrast between shape and colour?
Mei Lim-Cooper: Ultimately I’m a minimalist at heart, I want to achieve bold graphic shapes and silhouettes that clean your vision. Simultaneously, I love colour and surface texture – so it’s about balancing these elements.
DD: Who or what informed your MA collection most?
Mei Lim-Cooper: I really looked into the work of Mark Vaux and Angela de la Cruz. Vaux’s three-dimensional paintings are masterpieces of colour composition. Angela de la Cruz was more of a reference for the graphic forms, drapes and shapes that I wanted to achieve and how to do this in a simple and minimal way.
DD: What are you planning to do next?
Mei Lim-Cooper: For now I’m going to develop my skills within an already established house.