Words by Katie Farley
Attaining a surname like ‘Champion’, one would naturally expect great things to resonate from that individual. Zoe Champion indeed applies her name effectively. Being an emerging designer who is unquestionably advocating innovative and experimental techniques surrounding her knitwear practices, her fashions simultaneously carry interest and intrigue throughout the industry.
It is Zoe’s intention to design knitwear pieces that challenge predetermined concepts of the fabrication and to inevitably explore and construct a new context for her knitwear’s to exist in. By carrying out extensive experimentations whilst sampling new ideas, the designer is able to navigate an array of capabilities that the structure of the knit can creatively conjure.
Champion compares the process of working with knitwear to the physical way in which she creates her clay pots, an unlikely method that propelled her journey into fashion. “Through pottery, I was able to translate the textures and sculptural shapes that I was identifying in shadows and tricks of the eye throughout my everyday life” explains the designer. Through intrinsic shaping, Zoe undertakes the clay making process by applying an array of dexterities that include stretching, crushing, rolling, imprinting, spinning and molding that is then fired and glazed. “When knitting; all of the structure, texture, silhouette and potential movement of the garment are created in that one moment on the knitting machine, fully formed and ready to be a garment,” says Champion.
Adopting the design ethic to work conceptually whilst amalgamating textile styling into the design and construction of the garments every creative step was a technique Zoe reconnoitered whilst studying Fashion and Textile Design at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. This is also home to the designer’s birthplace. Throughout her honors collection, Champion investigated knitwear design where she embarked on constructing knitwear fabrications that were technically elaborate and experimental. Wanting to further enhance her evolving complexities in knitting, she decided to make the transition to New York where she attained a position on an MFA programme in Fashion and Society at Parsons, The New School. This was where she laid the creative foundations that today serve as Zoe’s signature design aesthetic.
Champion’s designs are an exotic fusion of vibrancy, eclecticism, structurally interesting and unquestionably inventive that seek innovative levels of creativity. Her knitwear’s are artfully manipulated and alluringly deconstructed, which result in contemporary, avant-garde pieces which of course, challenge traditional methods of knitting. Once acknowledged as a somewhat dated and uninspiring artistry, Zoe is ultimately showcasing knitwear in a beguiling light and her designs can easily be compared to the woolen works of Sonia Rykiel.
For Zoe’s latest collection, “Inlay” translates as an emotional ode to her grandmother, who passed away this summer. The sartorial array depicts the connection between an individual and another person’s clothing, portraying the illusion of holding clothes against one’s self without necessarily adorning one’s body in them. Creating a conceptual aesthetic, motifs that trick the mind are visuals of the collection, with an underlying focus of garment manipulation and pieces appearing as though they are falling off from another item of clothing.
“Through inlay knitwear techniques I physically encapsulate secondary yarn in the main body of knitting, to symbolize the embedding of memories within a garment. While dealing with a seemingly sad topic I wanted it to be a joyful representation of my grandmother’s life and my relationship with her”, explains Champion.
A variety of family photographs taken before Zoe was born are seen to be digitally torn apart and then put back together through structurally sound, neon-colored jackets. Clashing hues and striking silhouettes result in interesting sartorial outcomes that are clean and utterly modern.Zoe’s creations are for the fun and daring who aspire to be completely individual and fearless.
Sweater – Mola Walker
Pants – Zoe Champion
Overlay/Dress – Mola Walker
Shoes – Zoe Champion
Top – Zoe Champion
Pants – Molly Bracken
Dress- Zoe Champion
Photos by Teneshia Carr
Model Ruoyang He
Makeup Chloe Grae
Styling Addy Bugg