Clare Waight Keller performed a little fashion magic with the new Pringle collection. She wove cashmere with a soluble yarn that dissolved when the material was washed, leaving a mesh of impossibly perfect little cashmere squares, and she made that almost as much a feature of the collection as the huge, slouchy pants with deep, standout pockets. Waight Keller based the trousers on fishermen's waders and paired them with skinny little tops in the mesh to create a seventies-ish silhouette.
But I was flashing much further back. That mesh was like something from the Middle Ages, with the tone-on-tone argyle as a ducal insignia. Waight Keller layered tabardlike shapes over kilts, evoking a medieval warrior woman. The green velvets she used, meanwhile, reminded me of colors worn by wandering minstrels. That was a wildly fanciful reaction on my part, but it did underscore the strong Celtic strain in the collection, which is fundamental to the Pringle DNA.
If those waders weren't entirely successful (that's a lot of pant for a body to bear), fishermen's knits contributed to a couple of the collection's strongest pieces: the white cabled sweater elongated into a dress, and the black knit with the swingy pleats and the mass of bobble around the shoulders. The designer's skill with knitwear was also obvious in the gray dress that side-tied over a gunmetal leather skirt.
Though Pringle is a work in progress, what stands out most clearly at this point is Waight Keller's confidence in integrating her own particular vision with the company's 195 years of history (and, beyond that, the essence of Scotland itself). She's taking risks en route. Hopefully, she'll soon start to reap the rewards.