Posted by Bethan Holt. Junior Fashion Editor at Large

A few weeks ago, I visited NEWGEN designer Lucas Nascimento to preview his AW13 collection, which was shown at Tate Modern this morning. It was a beautiful, chic and clever collection which had  several editors and buyers I was sitting near to actually cooing out loud. Quite a feat on the last day of the week. Obviously not the actual week, the fashion week you understand. Today is London Fashion Friday. Here's the preview, which also appeared in today's The Daily interspersed with some pictures from today's show....

As with most East London designer’s studios, it’s easy to get lost en route to Lucas Nascimento’s Hackney Wick abode. Indeed, at first glance it’s a lighting and furniture factory. But venture further round and you come to the right place. It’s not rails of samples and acres of fabric which greet visitors, as one might expect. It’s an enormous, industrial sized Stoll knitting machine.

Brazil-born Nascimento has confounded those of us who thought we knew what knitting looked like by producing light as air, fine as feathers modern wardrobe staples. In his debut season of NEWGEN sponsorship, A/W ’12, there were bafflingly novel carpet-like knits, for S/S 13 the look was light, fine and sheer. Knitwear like you’ve never seen it before.

The wild-haired 32 year-old has been engrossed in the M1 Plus software which he calls ‘the Photoshop of knitwear’. It allows him to experiment with new techniques which he then tailors into the simple yet voluminous shapes, like shell tops and sculpted shift dresses, which are fast becoming his signature. The night before we met he produced a fabulous double-sided, flock effect pattern which he likens to ‘oil on water’. It is constructed with a combination of shimmering gauze thread and luxurious chenille. It could be jacquard but it has sheen and stretch. Then there’s bouclé yarn knitted with cellophane thread in a way which Nascimento compares to quilting. This squishy, waffled creation will be crafted into a pencil skirt. Prepare to be astounded too by fur tightly knitted into yarn. It’s all about balancing wintry richness with a lightness of touch. 

Nascimento studied knitwear at London College of Fashion, having learnt from his Mother when he was growing up. ‘I love hand knitting and I’m really good at it’ he emphasises, remembering the ‘brilliant’ internship he did with Sid Bryan and the gang from Sibling during his second year. It was post- graduation factory visits while working for the likes of Neon and Basso and Brooke that piqued a curiosity about what technology could do for knitting. 

‘We go through the yarns for the season, but it’s always a surprise because they will do something you didn’t think they would’ says Nascimento of the starting point for every collection. He has a beautiful mood board, which includes a 60s photograph of Jean Shrimpton, Nefertiti-like in James Galanos, and a tufty haired rabbit. But those images play out in specific details, like the way he wants his knitted fur to look. It is the pocket of The Shrimp’s dress which informs the pouches you will see on dresses in today’s collection. 

He has his fashion aesthetic down to a tee. Those sleek, modern pieces such as a column skirt or neat bomber jacket. For A/W ’13, dresses take on a cocoon shape while jackets are cropped, or cut out at the shoulder. Old ladies are a constant obsession, ‘you must put them in!’ he exclaims in his lyrical Brazilian accent. He goes on, ‘their proportions and how they put together their outfits fascinates me’. While we don’t think geriatric when we see a Lucas look, those demure lengths and inspired colour combinations make sense in this context. Navy is Nascimento’s favourite colour and is guaranteed to appear in every collection. This time it is teamed with ochre, grey and blush pink.

At a time when Céline is selling mink sandals, and Margiela offers leather joggers, it is savvy of Nascimento to experiment with imbuing his simple shapes with high-end luxury. One look comprises a fur sleeved sweatshirt and matching rabbit panelled pencil skirt. Perhaps it’s something to do with hailing from a BRIC country? ”I really want women to look at something of mine and say ‘Oh my god, I need that. I want to rock that’” Nascimento enthuses. Cue, a whole new wish list for Autumn.


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