Pringle of Scotland is a near-200-year-old company world-famous for its knitwear. Alistair Carr is a 36-year-old designer who had never worked with knitwear in his life. So on the face of it, not the most logical of unions. But there's always that old line about opposites attracting, and Carr acquitted himself well today with his first full collection for Pringle. He started, sensibly enough, with immersion in the archives, where he found, like his predecessor Clare Waight Keller, a trove of inspirational oddities. One that made plenty of impact when it was revisited on today's catwalk was a cardigan adorned with dégradé caviar beading. Same with another cardigan that picked out Pringle's signature argyle in tone-on-tone crystals. The result looked sweetly sugared.
Maybe Carr's lack of familiarity with knits worked in his favor. He wasn't constrained by convention. So his cardigans unbuttoned front and back, because that felt to him like a sensible option for warm weather.
Inevitably, there were echoes of Carr's prior employer Balenciaga in some of his work here, especially the slouchy pants with their bondage-y straps, or an architectural detail like the articulated seams on a black jacket that opened to reveal a flash of white. Somehow more "Pringle" were the trompe l'oeil layered dresses, with a panel that could float free or button diagonally to create a drape of fabric. The subtly asymmetrical print emphasized the drape. If the look wasn't exactly Braveheart, it had a Celtic flair, which can't be bad for a company like Pringle.
Carr defined his biggest challenge as creating a new team. He's off to a flying start with collaborators Tilda Swinton, who continues as brand ambassador, jeweler Husam el Odeh, who contributed small, intensely colored sunglasses as "eye jewelry," and artist Liam Gillick, responsible for today's striking decor (a black vinyl wordpiece ran along the white benches on which the audience sat). Carr has also designed a line of bags that will launch at Miami Basel.