I used to think knitwear was for winter scarves and hats and baby clothes. And then I saw a boudoir collection from Montreal-based knitwear designer Maude Nibelungen.
Maude designs knitwear that will make you cry, it's so beautiful. Knitwear is a unique type of clothing to wear: it can be as loose as an infinity scarf that gives you multiple layers in winter, or it can hug the body and remain breathable in summer - a relentlessly comfortable second skin. There is so much to be done with knitwear, and Maude's work shows that.
In this short interview, Maude and and I talk about her design process, specifically about the Knit Dress, available here at Bluestockings. (Also: there's a special gift for those of you who read to the end.)
How did you get the idea for the Knit Dress?
I think the idea I had for the short dress is basically what gave birth to the whole boudoir collection. I feel like I have been in the middle of a storm between this old technique that is knitting (and every preconceived idea people may have about it) and the desire to create something modern and timeless. Creating a slip dress felt like the right thing to start with.
What was the creation process like? (e.g. choosing fabric and design, how much time did it take, how many versions did you go through)
I picked the main material before designing most of the collection. I went for a cotton because it is an old, natural and simple material. It is also offered in many different weights and textures, but it is mostly soft and resilient.
I then proceeded to make swatches to try out different knit gauges to write my pattern. Unlike sewing where you cut the fabric in the shape needed, when you knit, you make your own textile, you create the shape of the pieces right away. Therefore, if the shape isn't right, you need to knit everything again from the start. Luckily, my calculations were pretty on spot for this item so I only had to tweak my first version a little to obtain the final product.
It is still a lengthy process and it is so hard to determine exactly the time involved in creation; from the moment your brain starts to work on it up until you're holding the fruit of your work between your hands.
What was your goal for the short knit dress? How do you see people wearing it?
As I mentioned above, with the short dress I wanted to bring something modern and timeless. The slip dress is a common lingerie item that has been adapted to follow the current trends, and society in general. I remember a few years ago having a conversation with a friend and ended up saying "knits are sexy". I think the idea of comfort that comes to mind when thinking of a knit is very interesting to mix with "sexiness", they almost feel like opposites. But they are not, there is no norm for sexiness other than feeling good, sexy and yourself.
I wanted to push the idea further, bring in a texture that would be strong but soft, see-through while giving you that covered feeling, like an armor; I wanted to blur the lines between "opposites". And, most of all, I wanted to do so while keeping a certain simplicity, giving the possibility to every customer to make the garment their own. I hope to create items that allow people to feel good about themselves while being themselves. There is more room for unicity than there seems to be.
What's your favorite feature of the Knit Dress?
I love the look and fit of the dress. Because it is knitted, it will adapt and hug the body of whoever wears it.