Funny how a collection can take a roadside swerve in to a totally different direction and surprise you from behind. When I last saw rising knitwear designer Lucas Nascimento in the studio, he was looking at graphic Japanese landscapes and kimono cut-outs. Instead, for his A/W 12-3 collection, he looked closer to home - his home in São Paulo and got inspired by the idea of refining and distilling the city's graffiti and skateboard culture. Back in February, at the stunning Two Temple Place where powerhouse PR agency RelativeMO staged a day of well-thought out, well-crafted presentations, Lucas Nascimento made his LFW show debut and demonstrated why we should be paying attention to this new knittist.
What marks Nascimento out is that his work doesn't look like knitwear at all as he sets about choosing his yarns carefully to knit up his own textiles and create novel textures that go beyond visible wooly knit and purl. The waffle knit looks like a continuation of the jersey cordweave texture created for his S/S 12 collection and once again he sticks to sleek and uncomplicated shapes like pencil skirts, button-less jackets, puncuated by the flash of a yellow poloneck. A chenille type yarn is woven into a tactile texture resembling the look of a carpet that mysteriously changes in different lights because you've rubbed your hands over it, causing the fibres to change direction. When this structured carpet-esque fabric is tailored into shift dresses, the effect of a minimal shape vs. maximal texture is quite arresting. Nascimento may have also created a strapless dress that I finally like with a purple tube dress rising into a peaked rectangle at the bust like a piece of armour. Astroturf green pops alongside deep purple and yellow as references to Brazilian drinks bottles or in my mind, the nation's obsession with footie and the green pitches.
The focal point of the collection though lies in the tinsel yarn worked into graffiti print pieces. Nascimento has elevated the graffiti paint spray to a condensed and precise pattern that was carefully pre-ordained by a computer and a knitting machine. It's this level of control over the potentially wayward knit, that is extremely impressive and again, he restrains himself on shape, sticking to straight-lined shift dresses with a down-to-earth nod of pockets at the hips and gently cocooned coats. Who knew wearing head to toe tinsel could look so refined? This isn't lady-lady refinery either. It's to-the-point and startlingly mature for a designer who is only a few seasons in.
Here's a heads up of Lucas Nascimento's sample sale going on tomorrow at his studio if you're in London, with price starting from a bargainous £40. I sneakily got in there and nabbed a few things before I left for Australia but I promise I didn't leave the rails bare...