NATURE'S PALETTEby Niamh McCooey
We are hardly surprised when visitors to the Selvedge store find themselves drawn towards our collection of crochet scarves and necklaces. Aside from the obvious skill poured into each piece, the designer Sophie Digard has a sensitive and truly beautiful approach to both pattern and colour.
Since 1999 French designer Sophie Digard has been creating these unforgettable pieces, with a view not only to artistic production but also to a new and ambitious business model. As anyone at all familiar with crochet will know, it is a time-consuming business. The focus and delicacy necessary to achieve work of this fineness is something else altogether. Digard’s production scheme is a means to achieve exquisite quality: and, moreover, a vehicle for social improvement. Digard uses single-ply merino wool from Australia – only this provides the delicacy required – as well as linen and cotton velvet for embellishment. The yarn is dyed by hand using vegetable dyes in France. Each piece makes use of up to 60 different shades, plied together to create the subtle variation of tone and unique fingerprint of each piece.
The fibres are then shipped to Madagascar where Digard employs local women to crochet and embroider the scarves they eventually become. Digard works to fair trade principles: her workshops provide a valuable source of income to her employees whilst nourishing traditional textile skills.
At the beginning of her design process is a look towards nature and artists such as Gustav Klimt for inspiration. Indeed, you do not have to look long at Digard’s trademark colour palette and pattern collection to see that these are textiles designed by someone with a painter’s eye. Held within the work are the stories of her childhood: growing up as an ‘enfant sauvage’; travelling with her parents around the world; living and marvelling at the simple things that nature offers. This lost paradise provides the infinite source of inspiration in her work. One can see plants and pebbles, flowers and fields in her work as in a medieval fairy tale.
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Styling by Nelson Sepulveda, photography by Ana Bloom