VFS Exhibition - Q&A with Alice Lee

Photography by Ezzidin Alwan

What has the response been from those visiting the exhibition?
Alice - We have had a good response, people have been asking lots of questions about the detail involved in the work.
Lee – They like its tactile-ness, everyone wants to give it a good feel and know what it’s made from.
A – A lot of people think it’s harder and then they feel it and like that it’s a lot softer than they imagined.

Do you use a knitting machine?
A – Yes, it’s all done on a knitting machine. The hand-work is done afterwards.

The extent to which you’ve worked on it is incredible.
A – The knitting itself doesn’t take that long to do, in comparison to the handwork afterwards. The most work is in the red jacket. Almost every stitch is threaded with the leather afterwards, so the actual knitting is really quite easy in comparison.

Did you collaborate with another designer on the accessories?
A – The hats are very much our own thing; they grew in an ergonomic way. We worked with jewellery designer Helene Turbe, who works next door to us in our studio, on the bangles. [Alice picks up some bangles, a chunky knit with metal link, and another with a thin metal bracelet running through a knitted bracelet.] This [the knit] is our thing and then her idea was to put the gold band on, and so she did that. Gold circles, it’s very much about circles in this collection.

I love the shoes too!
A – This is a styling thing [a knitted sock over a nude heel]. The idea was to be a little bit subversive and have them on the outside rather than the inside. They’re not very practical though, especially in white! It created a whole [knitted] look – the continuation from hats to clothes to jewellery.

How long does each piece take to make?
L – An incredible amount of time.
A –That [red] jacket must have taken about a month altogether [as a sample]. But now it would take about five days.
L – We work on about six pieces at the same time, rather than complete one and finish it. We look at it and leave it for a bit then come in and look at it again.
A – We had an amazing team of interns helping us. We wouldn’t have got all this intricate work done [without them].
L – We were thinking of writing on the labels the amount of hours each piece took.
A – Like ’30 hour jacket’.
L – Yeah we thought, well, we better not do it.

What are you expecting from this season?
A – Hopefully orders, and to sell in some great shops. Get good press; get seen and known. Be able to produce another collection and show on the catwalk next season. That’s what want to do: really take it further.

Have you got any ideas for what you want to do next season?
A – Loads! Before we even finished this we had ideas of ‘oh we could take it this way…’ We want to develop more textures, more shapes. The shapes are quite simple in this [S/S 12]. We thought it should be simple for summer. I prefer winter – you can really go for it.

Text: Natasha Slee
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