Brooke Roberts by Cathryn Nicholson.
We first spoke with fashion knitwear designer Brooke Roberts back in 2009. Here she talks about the inspirations behind her new S/S 2012 collection, which was launched with a spectacular dance presentation at The Hospital Club in September.
Brooke Roberts S/S 2012.
We first interviewed you two years ago – what has changed since then? Are you still working part time as a radiographer and if so how are you juggling everything?
It’s busier than ever! I’ve been stocked at Browns Focus for three seasons, and I’m consulting for a menswear label, while running my label and working part-time as a radiographer. It’s seven days a week at the moment!
Brooke Roberts S/S 2012 by Antonia Parker.
Your collections are created in Italy from the best fabrics – what kind of exciting yarns can you tell us about in the new collection, and what are their properties?
I’ve been experimenting with bio-ceramic yarns, which have metabolic and body temperature regulating properties. I’ve also been using retro-reflective yarns, which are a wool base with microscopic glass beads bonded to the surface. I mix these with luxury yarns like extra-fine merino, cashmere and silk for a techno-luxe effect. All of my knits are unique programmes, so mixing the yarns with the programmes allows me to create really personal and innovative fabrics.
Brooke Roberts S/S 2012. Photography by Akeela Bhattay.
Why did you make the move from science into fashion. What do you miss about that world and what do you not miss at all?! Why did you decide that fashion was more important to you than radiography?
Being a radiographer means you lack autonomy in your work. I find that difficult. The medical images I create are incredibly detailed and textural, and inspire the fabrics I create. I think my science degree has given me a unique perspective on technology and design. I’m not the kind of designer who starts a collection by researching fashion history and other designers previous collections. I develop my ideas through interpreting medical images, creating digital knit programs and yarn experimentation. I then use fashion references to develop silhouettes. Fashion allows me to express my perspective on science and design. I find the two to be harmonious.
Brooke Roberts medical inspired knitwear by Veronica Rowlands.
Why is it important to combine the science and the arts?
Combining the two enhances the understanding and interest in each field. They are inextricably linked. Science gives us the ability to understand and explain the world around us. That is powerful knowledge that can be applied creatively. A great example is the Wellcome Collection and Wellcome Trust, which funds art projects with a basis in biomedical science. Electroboutique at the Science Museum is another great example.
What science journals, fashion and music blogs do you recommend for a bit of inspiration?
Science and technology – Wired, New Scientist, the RSNA’s Radiology journal, Suzie Sheehy’s blog ‘high heels in the lab‘, Google! I love looking up strange materials and gadgets on the net to develop ideas for my collections. Fashion – Vogue Italia, Stylebubble, Dazed Digital, ShowSTUDIO. Music – I’m a big Radio 6 fan – not so much a music blog reader.
For your S/S 2012 collection you put on a dance performance in collaboration with Riccardo Buscarini at the Hospital Club which I was sadly unable to attend. What prompted this idea and what was the best part of the performance?
This idea came out of a video of a knitting machine made entirely of lego, which I found on Youtube. Riccardo Buscarini choreographed the piece from this, and Elspeth Brooke composed the score, which she and I recorded at one of the hospitals I work at. I operated the x-ray machines and she recorded the sound. The collection was a commentary on woman and machine, and encorporated high-tech Italian industrial knitting techniques with hand knit, crochet and hand-lacing.
The current collection is for sale in Browns Focus (including some collaborative accessories with Eye of the World), how is that doing and do you have any more plans for new stockists or designer collaborations?
The collection looks great. I’ve seen it in store and one of the styles has already sold out, so that’s great. I just returned from New York where I visited three retailers – more on that next season! I am hoping to work with Riccardo and Elspeth again, and looking forward to seeing what we can create next season.
Brooke Roberts S/S 2012. Look book image.
What is your muse for the new collection? Any sneak ideas of what to expect, and can we expect anymore exciting shows?
I don’t have a muse. Next season will be a textural delight. Technical cables, geometry and luxury. The rest is top secret.
Akeela Bhattay, Antonia Parker, Bianca Wendt, Brooke Roberts, Browns Focus, Cathryn Nicholson, Dazed Digital, Electroboutique, Elspeth Brooke, fashion, High Heels in the Lab, Hospital Club, New Scientist, Radio 6, Radiographer, Radiology Journal, Riccardo Buscarini, RSNA, S/S 2012, science, Science Museum, Showstudio, stylebubble, Suzie Sheehy, Veronica Rowlands, Vogue Italia, Wellcome Collection, Wellcome Trust, Wired
- Designer Spotlight: Brooke Roberts- Part One
- Designer Spotlight: Brooke Roberts- Part Two
- You Can’t Mistake Her Biology
- An interview with Accessory Designer Hope Von Joel from Eye of the World Designs
- Martina Spetlova: New S/S 2012 Season Interview