Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Schiaparelli Bow-Knot Sweater

The Schiaparelli Bow-Knot Sweater

I read a book recently that involved the designer Elsa Schiaparelli as part of the story.  I knew that Schiaparelli had been associated with Surrealist artists, so I decided to do a bit more investigation into Schiaparelli's Bow-Knot Sweater which, when debuted, caused a fashion sensation in 1927.  Here is some information about this sweater from various sites on the internet: 

Elsa Schiaparelli plays with the idea of a bow in this woolen jumper. She uses the trompe-l'oeil effect, which creates an optical illusion. The simple hand-knitted garment and its direct graphic image reflect the more relaxed attitude to formal wear for women in the late 1920s. The geometric, 'stepped' quality of the bow's curved outlines are an unavoidable technical feature of hand knitting. The designer exploits this feature and uses the design to hint at her later involvement with the Surrealist Movement: 'I drew a large butterfly bow in front, like a scarf round the neck - a primitive drawing of a child'.
Schiaparelli wore the jumper to a society luncheon. It was a remarkable success and she received numerous orders. More amusing designs followed, including trompe-l'oeil ties and handkerchiefs. She soon opened her first salon, selling modish sportswear. The success of this jumper resulted from Schiaparelli's combination of traditional crafts - in this case, knitting - with her own inventiveness and wit. Many of her later designs show her understanding of the fashionable potential of such combinations.

I found a modern-day knitting pattern for this sweater here.  THEN, I found a method to paint a bow-knot onto an existing sweater here
"Fake" Painted Bow-Knot Sweater

The knitted pattern involves a technique called Armenian knitting where you use two contrast color yarns at the same time to achieve this intarsia affect, while maintaining a stretchy, sporty sweater.  It sounds rather complicated, but I do love that knit-in bow knot!  One of these days, I'll take the time to learn this skill.  Let me know if you'd like to tackle this sweater, I'll send over my measurements!

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