Pin It
Photos by Shoji Fujii

Pelican Avenue: Who Knits Who?

Former Bernard Willhelm assistant, Caroline Lerch speaks to Dazed about her new collection

When founder of Pelican Avenue Caroline Lerch was a child, she used to create dresses for her Barbie dolls out of fabric swatches. Today, things haven’t changed much: better Barbie, even better swatches.

The former assistant of Bernard Willhelm showed her new collection in Paris on February 6th. As always, it involved performance, video, and garment, which merged into an existentialist medley. It bore resemblance to her previous show ‘Hanging Garden’  with Alex Murray-Leslie from Chicks On Speed and dancer Kroot Juurak: similarly, the clothes were set out on clothing lines like a theatrical landscape. There, swatches filled in for natural elements, and composed a wild, sartorial forest.

This time, Lerch worked only with Juurak, who came in wearing red lace stockings and green ankle boots. Like Dorothy realizing she is no longer in Kansas, the performer found herself in a strange land populated by red, black, white fine knits, and cottons on clothing lines, as if drying in the sun.Juurak explored, contorted herself, sat down and pondered the politics of the garment planet. She gracefully demonstrated how every piece could be turned into clothes, or rather, how one can knit oneself into a piece of fabric, through elaborate undulating and dancing. 

The performance is there to illustrate the methods used in the collection. The actual clothes -invisible during the show- consist of a very wearable range of knitted pullovers, dresses, trousers, based on the same system of strings and tubes to form  geometric knitted shapes. This display of technique rather than finished product seems to suggest that the clothes can be reinvented,explored turned upside down, worn as head-gear or hung on the wall. 

As for Juurak, she is experiencing a constant dressing experience: she sheds her fabric skin incessantly as she explores different regions of the Pelican Avenue.'The medium is the message': Lerch is giving a life of their own to her pieces. These are natural elements for us to tame, rather than a commodity to be used and abused. Stop shopping, she seems to say, and go look for clothes on trees. And then, see if you can weave yourself into them. And be polite.
No Toto, this is not Kansas anymore – but the witch will probably teach you how to knit.