"Heritage" has been the word at Pringle as of late. Its former designer, Clare Waight Keller, dove into the archives during her tenure, and her successor, Alistair Carr, has now done the same with his first collection for the brand. But like Waight Keller, Carr provides a remix, not a rehash. He took a picture of a Mrs. Douglas, Pringle's fit model in the early sixties, as a jumping-off point.
In the photo, which doubled as his invitation, the modish young Mrs. D wears a cardigan skirtsuit knit in a riotous print and a high-necked little sweater. But you won't see that in this collection. The pure white stripe of Douglas' sweater became the banded white strips of a "Skeleton" dress, draped with printed viscose. And the colorful print—"Pringle is about bright colors; people forget that," Carr said—became a pixelated jacquard reminiscent of early computer graphics. (In fact, Carr, grateful to be back in London after a stint in Paris, was inspired by the patterns on the seats of the tube.) The high-necked white sweaters did reappear just about verbatim, but in the context of the technical fabrics and sporty shapes, they took on a cool, clinical new look. In their cropped, paneled trousers and computer-graphic cardigans and those white sweaters, the models looked sleek, slick, slightly cyborg. For a house built on soft knit, the edge here was sharp and hard. Even argyle, a house standard, was honed. It was reconfigured as a jagged intarsia that looked, more than anything else, like a pane of shattered glass.
If the styling and the cool, calculated futurism owed something to Balenciaga (where Carr worked with Nicolas Ghesquière before his Pringle appointment), so, too, did the studious attention to even the smallest detail, from the notches on trouser legs and jackets to the slits on a simple car coat. The designer, for his part, shrugged off an overt connection. "What I took from Nicolas is focus," he said. "Conviction in an idea." His conviction is convincing. This was a strong first effort.