If British designers spun a yarn or two for autumn/winter 2012 that only serves to reinforce the fact that wool is part of the weave and weft of our heritage.
From the Blackwatch tartan dresses and mini-skirts at McQ by Alexander McQueen (a triumphant homecoming to London for the sister line in its own right) to glittery Lurex knits and disco knits at Meadham Kirchhoff, designers worked wool with all the characteristic wit and irreverence we have come to expect from homegrown talents.
Since Vivienne Westwood first appropriated tartan and harris tweed for own uses in the Eighties, British heritage fabrics - so often wool-based - have been the stuff of subculture and sarcasm. When model Sara Stockbridge donned Stephen Jones's squashy "Harris Tweed" crown, created for Westwood in 1987, a newly iconoclastic iconography was born. It's part mimickry of the landed classes, part rustic – and it adds up to an attitude that feels very British: hip but homely.
"It's part mimickry of the landed classes, part rustic – and it adds up to an attitude that feels very British: hip but homely"
It was this approach that Stella McCartney took, in tweed suiting that was cut in modern and sports-inspired patterns. Blazers bagged out, lampshade-style, on hips while lapels and collars were mainly minimal. Christopher Kane too showed textured, fuzzy knits that had all the hallmarks of his singular ingenuity but lacked none of the cosiness factor.
And it was at Meadham Kirchoff that the punkish spirit really seemed to be reincarnated, with Riot Grrl models dressed in acid-bright and tinsel-strewn knits, accessorised with brightly coloured woollen tights and socks.
Whoever said jumpers had to be sensible?
British Wool Week runs until October 21.
Text by Harriet Walker
Harriet Walker is a fashion writer at The Independent. Her book Less is More: Minimalism in Fashion is out now, published by Merrell. Zoë Taylor is an illustrator based in London. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, Syntax Editions and Le Gun among others.