“It will unravel ahead of us!”
Stephanie Kemp and Alison Dupernex have drawn on their shared interest in designing with colour to drive their collaboration.
Both makers create garments from fabrics they have designed and made. Alison makes knitted textiles that have intricate colour changes and sculptural qualities resulting from her choices of yarn and stitch. Stephanie is a hand weaver who draws on her training as a fashion designer and pattern cutter to create tailored coats and jackets.
Alison and Stephanie met exhibiting at a show. They were both drawn to each other’s use of colour:
Stephanie’s archive includes some designs from her training at St Martin’s School of Art in the 1970’s. Thinking about working with Alison for Two Make, she remembered a design that combined weaving and knitting. This starting point got the pair underway, however, the early days of their collaboration:
“We started off by being overly complicated and certainly went down a few blind alleys. I was trying to get woven cloth and knitting to bond together, but that didn’t work. Then I realised that my hand knitted samples would take me a year to produce enough fabric for Stephanie to work with. I got quite panicky at one stage.”
The pair decided after some experimentation to play to their strengths: allowing their fabrics to compliment the other through colour work, weight and drape. They decided to work with some of Stephanie’s cloth in pale and bright tones. This decision challenged Alison to work with a different colour palette:
“Apricot is a colour that I find difficult to work with, so I had to live with it on my table for while.”
While allowing the colour work to emerge, Alison explored yarn combinations of silk, camel and eco-silk to echo the weight of the woven cloth.
“We want the garment to feel like the woven and knitted fabrics are one: but it will depend how my fabric behaves when Stephanie tries to sew it – will it lie flat?”
Their original plan to integrate shaped knitted panels and godets into the jackets was abandoned: the fabric tension did not pass the quality threshold. Instead Stephanie cut and sewed knitted pieces from larger fabric panels:
“I’m not a designer that sits down and draws. I just like to sit with the materials. Handling and working with them helps you work out what to do.”