January 07 2012
Lucia van der Post
For skiers winter (usually) brings one big consolation – snow – which means it’s time to sort the boots and skis, not to mention clothing. This year there’s a great new arrival on the scene, which it takes a serious skier to appreciate: proper, classic skiing sweaters. They’re the brainchild of friends Jane Yarrow and Santa Sebag-Montefiore (née Palmer-Tomkinson). For the Palmer-Tomkinsons, skiing is in the blood. Santa’s father, Charlie, skied for Britain and it was his old 1964 Olympic sweater that inspired them. This was a time when the Corinthian spirit was alive and well, before the days of lifts and cable cars, when much of the time was spent walking uphill; a pullover was key.
These days sweaters seem to have been neglected, which is why the friends came up with a range for real skiers – classic, close-knit numbers, made from the best merino wool, which never pills or loses its shape. Called Longlanier (the Alpine name for lace bindings), the brand’s first collection is for women (children’s sweaters arrive in February, men’s next winter). Handmade on traditional looms in Wales, they come in navy, red or grey, with not a snowflake in sight. There are three designs: the Racer (the one most directly inspired by Charlie’s Olympic sweater), a high-V-necked design with arm stripes and a shoulder patch to stop snagging when carrying skis, and a forearm patch for slalom racers (£395); the Alpinist, a half-zipped sweater with shoulder patch (first picture, £425); and the Off-Pister, with full zip and shoulder patch (£450). The compact knit means they’re almost windproof – all you need underneath is a fine, long-sleeved vest by the skier’s favourite brands Mover or Icebreaker (third picture, £53).
Of course, no skier is averse to a bit of glamour, and this is where the jacket comes in. Every year Prada comes up with new designs for its ski collection – this year called Montagna – as perfect for snow-bunnies parading around the shops in smart resorts as for real skiers. There’s a wide range of designs, but it’s the ones trimmed with fur that have the extra allure. There are thigh-skimming parka styles with huge fox-fur collars (in white, second picture, or grey, £3,580), eye-catching bomber-jacket-style numbers in red (very glam) or grey with faux fur on the collars (£900) and pockets and, smartest of all, a belted version in sheeny chocolate brown or champagne with a fur-trimmed hood (£1,100).