Friday, August 17, 2012

John Carr Doughty Trompe L'oeil Knitwear

UK knitwear designer John Carr Doughty made a brief sensation in 1966 with his knitted men's sweaters and women's sweater dresses that fooled the eye with trompe l'oeil patterns knitted right in.  The designs shown here were made in pure wool and were commissioned by the International Wool Secretariat for the Designers Convention. 

Carr wasn't a clothing designer, per se.  Instead, he worked behind the scenes figuring out how to translate his ideas for knit designs into a manufacturing technique.  Those ideas were then presented as samples to UK knitwear manufacturers for their use in making garments.  He also designed and patented several knitting machines for various uses.

Carr Doughty was the genius behind the intarsia designs in Pringle cashmere sweaters starting in 1952.  What's intarsia?  That is a knitting technique in which a pattern is knitted into a design with separate pieces of colored yarn instead of carrying the unused strands of color across on the back of the knit.

Carr Doughty is said to have made a Mondrian inspired knitwear design 2 years before Yves St. Laurent translated the artist's work into dresses in 1965.  One of his favorite Pringle instarsia designs was based on a painting by Klee. But after the brief media frenzy about his trompe l'oeil looks in 1966, John Carr Doughty disappeared back behind the scenes in the knitwear industry.  He did consulting work for UK knitwear manufacturers until at least the late 1970s.

Woolmark Company images from the collection of the London College of Fashion.