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Op Knits by Alice Palmer

Winner of Best Womenswear Designer at New York Fashion Week last season has long been experimenting with textiles.

Alice Palmer is one of many new designers taking a new slant on knitwear. Originally interested in creating art onto textiles, Alice made the leap into fashion after experimenting with knitwear. Her clothes, which push the boundaries of shape and construction, has already garnered interest from around the globe and won her an award for “Best Womanswear Designer” at New York Fashion Week as part of NY Profile.

Dazed Digital: Did you always want to be a fashion designer?
Alice Palmer: When I was younger I wanted to be many things from a screen writer to a stunt woman! Though, towards the end of school I knew I wanted to go to art school and study painting or textiles. I chose textiles and as soon as I started knitting for fashion I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer. Also, my two Grandmothers both designed clothes so it was in the genes all along.

DD: What prompted you to make the transition from textiles to designing and was it difficult?
AP: Making clothes came natural to me as I started working on the mannequin. I remember when I had to do two garments for my BA fashion show at the Glasgow School of Art, and I ended up making over eight outfits as the ideas kept flowing. They weren't brilliant, but I remember that excited feeling of finding my direction.

DD: After setting up your business in 2001, how have you evolved into creating unconventional styles of knitwear?
AP: When I started my business I was purely making fashion accessories and selling to galleries and small boutiques. Though, I was not fully satisfied as my passion was always to make clothes, so I moved to London and enrolled at the Royal College of Art. I decided to take the textiles course as it allowed me to concentrate on the actual fabric and I spent the two years exploring different methods of constructing knitwear. It is something I have become obsessed with and will continue to use in my future collections.

DD: Many designers seem to be exploring knitwear a great deal more now than ever, why do you think that is?
AP: I think it is great that knitting has become so popular. Designers such as Claire Tough and Louise Goldin have made it a trend; therefore I think more people are drawn towards knitwear. Also, with the capabilities of modern machinery, knitwear is a very diverse subject to learn.

DD: You're specifically interested in shape, form and pattern and the architecture of Marrakech, what is it about that city and it's infrastructure that has inspired and influenced you?
AP: I found Marrakech a very interesting and peaceful city. I was amazed by the phenomenal craftsmanship of the temples, with many three dimensional structures evident mainly over doorways and in the ceilings. I like to incorporate these shapes into my designs, making the end result very personal to me.

DD: What was it like winning "Best Womanswear Designer" at New York fashion week?
AP: Showing at New York Fashion Week with NY Profile was an amazing experience for me. My collection opened the show and I had such a great response. Winning the award came as a big surprise to me as it was my first proper fashion show and my first collection. I still feel like it was just a dream.

DD: What inspired your S/S09 collection?
AP: For my S/S09 collection I was inspired by Op artist Victor Vasarely, for the bold graphic qualities and primary colours. Being my first collection, I just had a lot of fun with it and the shapes evolved as I went along.