For Spring even distinctly non-sporty clothes are looking very sporty. The main reason for this - apart from this so-called "Olympics Fever" which I'm not buying into - is designers' increasing use of neoprene, the foamed synthetic rubber initially developed by DuPont in 1930, doubled with the general scuba/surf wear aesthetic adopted by high fashion designers. Last week, a Preen scuba styled tropical floral yellow shift dress dived in and swam straight out of stock from My-Wardrobe.com, and its PR Lauren Stevenson told me today that "scuba" and "neoprene" were within their top five searches on the site this week. This came after my great friend Nadia Jones, herself a fashion designer and the sister of Louis Vuitton's Kim Jones, made me jealous with her black neoprene coat from the No:21 collection by Alessandro Dell'Acqua. Then, I recalled seeing neoprene topped riding boots from Hermes in Paris, a pair of neoprene sandals from Jimmy Choo, the Pierre Hardy colleciton is neoprene heavy and the whole of the McQ Spring collection is scuba inspired...
Jimmy Choo neoprene sandals, £495 Net-a-Porter.com
McQ scuba top £150 Net-a-porter.com
Pierre Hardy neoprene and leather rucksack £1,135 Brownsfashion.com
This all made me think of one of my favourite Spring/Summer 2012 shows by Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos for their Peter Pilotto label at London Fashion Week. After the show I was straight backstage to say congratulations and to mug the designers for a quote or two. Neoprene came up then too, in connection with the designers' special collaboration with former stylist turned swimwear designer and now luxury neoprene expert, Lisa Marie Fernandez. But it wasn't until attending the Starworks London press day a couple of months later that I had a chance to speak to Peter and Lisa Marie in depth about the collection, and their collaboration.
Peter Pilotto with his collection (photo: fashion editor at large)First, Peter talked me through a holiday he and Christopher had taken in Indonesia that ran the gamut from hiking through jungle for days, and ended up in a fairly swank hotel for the weekend. Upon their return, inspiration was translated into truly exquisite and intricate tropical prints that feel like close-ups of palm leaves and magnified jungle details. At a certain point in the collection the florals of the collection go from artistic to cartoon... "we wanted something added to the collection, a surf or scuba element, that toughened up the silhouette and gave it a point of difference. I remembered meeting Lisa Marie, and we took it from there."
The Lisa Marie Fernandez/Peter Pilotto neoprene pieces at London Fashion Week (photo: Jason Lloyd Evans)
When I chatted to New Yorker Lisa-Marie Fernandez, a divine creature with a body that hasn't seen a carbohydrate in years, she was showing her own swimwear collection and as well as sharing her experiences of working on the Peter Pilotto project. First up though, was a discussion on neoprene, a fabric traditionally used in wetsuits, bottle coolers, laptop bags and treasured for its waterproof, creaseproof and protective qualities. Fernandez explained she is working with a new kind of more luxurious fashion-friendly neoprene, and has been teaching the factory workers who normally make wetsuits for surf brands, how to create her swimwear. "It is a huuuuge learning curve for them,"she said half smiling and half grimacing. The designer is definitely onto something, and I think we will seeing a lot more of her in the coming months. None of the individual pieces were available to be photographed, due to them being on an exclusive to one of the Vogues.
The Pilotto/Fernandez collaboration is due to arrive at Matches any day now.. I for one can't wait for the "Farrah" one of Lisa Marie's signature swimsuits in a Pilotto print.
A Lisa Marie Fernandez neoprene bikini (photo: fashion editor at large)
The Farrah swimsuit £315 by Lisa Marie Fernandez on net-a-porter (more stock on its way)