June 25 2010
Lucia van der Post
We’ve all learned to love the cardigan in recent years, especially those of us who live in Britain. Nothing else is quite so flexible at coping with the dizzying zig-zags of our temperature. And besides, by elegantly covering up tops that might be rather too exposed, it turns many an otherwise unwearable number into something sufficiently sober for real life.
Mostly it’s been fine-gauge, gossamer-light cardigans that have played their part in the summer wardrobe, but this season the cardigan has been re-thought and there’s another answer – the trophy cardigan. These are statement pieces – all braggadocio and swanky show, look-at-me numbers that are the opposite of their quiet, refined little cousins.
Of course Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga et al have been doing wondrous things that are halfway between cardigans and jackets for some time, but this year the look is everywhere and all sorts of names have turned their designing eye to the matter. Probably the iconic piece is Clare Waight Keller’s design for Pringle; she has come up with what Bridget Cosgrove, buying and fashion director at Matches, calls the defining trophy cardigan of the season (second picture, £895). It’s a chunky cable-knit number, heavily edged with a great big cable-knit border and it’s really all you need to update everything you already own. Wear it with jeans, over a floaty frock, in the evening as a jacket over dresses, skirts, trousers. It comes in a pale silver-grey or white and costs £895, but put it on and you’ll see why it justifies its price tag.
Clements Ribeiro has also come up with some show-stopping numbers which are exclusive to Matches, a pale pink Chanel-style cardie-cum-jacket, sporting a black border edged with glitter and embellished all over with huge black Fornasetti-like eyes, each eye also edged in glitter. Witty, unforgettable, original, and yet strangely also very useful.
In another homage to Mlle Chanel, the pair have come up with a bright blue number (fourth picture, £788-£998). The neck, seams, cuffs and hem are all edged in black with black chains on the pockets and front seams, while the front fastenings are embellished with ribbons. Or, just very slightly less showy is a version in cream, trimmed and edged with black with four black patches, each trimmed with black beads. One of those would see you brilliantly through the summer season.
But they’re not alone – everybody’s at it. Bella Freud has a delicious Last Poets cardigan (so called because it is inspired by the 1950s beat poets generation). It’s in black merino wool and has a dog embroidered on the front as well as the words “beat generation” on a cuff and the words “the last” on one side and “poets” on the other. All very cool for £220 from Net-a-Porter and Matches.
Paul Smith has come up with a wondrously jolly version of the trophy cardigan – it’s a joyous patchwork of colour (first picture, £469). Stripes of every size, from very fine to large and bold, are deployed in patches through the cardigan and zingy, sorbet colours such as pink, orange and blue are everywhere. There are two patch pockets and some nice black hand-stitched patches on the elbow. All filled with homely charm as if knitted up by somebody’s loving mum.
For something a little more less sock-it-you and working a prettier look, check out DKNY, which has a delicious cardigan consisting of plain navy blue knits at the back and on the sleeves but the front is a sweetly floral mish-mash of big splash prints in teal, camels, pinks and blue – perfect with a summer tea-dress; £206.
You can work the look for evening too with Dries van Noten’s silver lurex long-line belted cardigan (third picture; £340 from Selfridges, or £275 at Harvey Nichols). Nothing speaks so much of the summer of 2010 as a trophy cardigan, and just one statement piece could be all you need to add some fizz to your wardrobe.