I was amongst the large number of people disappointed to see Alistair CarrleavePringle of Scotland. Despite a rocky start, his last season at the brand was promising and he seemed to be finding his feet. When the news was announced, not much was said about the reason behind the decision and where he would go but now the news is out. Carr will serve as the new head of design at McQ.
The news is a big deal. Last week the brand opened their first stand alone store on London's Dover Street and of course, January will see them show their menswear collection in London for the first time during London Collections. It's safe to say, then, that, what with all of the changes, all eyes will be on Carr in the coming months. The first clue we will see about what to expect from the label under his direction will be their pre-fall 2013/14 collection.
Today's Pringle of Scotland show was bittersweet. When Alistair Carr presented his debut menswear collection for the house, it was met with mixed reviews. Last season saw him take a huge step in the right direction and today he really seemed to come into his own. The only downside is that today marked his final collection as the brand's creative director before they take it in-house. On a more positive note, it was definitely a strong exit and not a bad way to leave.
One of the biggest challenges that Carr has always faced is the brand's knitwear heritage. In the past he's seemed overwhelmed by it leading him to rely on the archive rather than reworking the classic styles and taking them forward. Today was the day that he finally did that. The elongated diamonds incorporated into stripes felt fresh and helped breathe life into the knits and the lightweight neutral toned styles worked well too. Rather than it just being about the knitwear, the tailoring was equally as strong especially on single breasted summer suits, colour blocked trousers and boxy jackets.
Just as things were starting to go well at Pringle of Scotland, this morning WWD confirmed that Alistair Carr has stepped down from his role as design director. The move is surprising for many reasons. His collections have increasingly shown promise and have gone down relatively well with the critics and also, it's only be a little over a year that he took over the reigns from Claire Waight Keller.
Despite his efforts the brand continued to lose a lot of money after he arrived, resulting in the owners having to inject a whopping $16.5 million to save it. Now the design duties are going completely in-house and instead of showing big runway shows, their collections will be shown in intimate presentations. The brand's CEO Jean Fang told WWD that the decision was 'mutual' and confirmed that Carr won't leave straight away as he still has to finish of the brand's S/S13 menswear collection in London and resort 2013 collection in New York.
Last month Alistair Carr really came into his stride with his debut menswear collection at Pringle of Scotland and this was also true of his women's wear offerings too.
Carr embraced the brand's knitwear heritage by producing the simple merino styles that have become the brand's bread and butter and are much appreciated by their loyal customer base. But that's not all. This season he seemed less afraid to do something knew with them, though, rather than sticking with the past. The V-neck fluffy jumper in candy pink was particularly good, as was a similar style but on a button down cardigan in mint. Chevron-partnered cardigans and turtlenecks felt less conservative when styled with metallic skirts and trousers.
The colour palette was largely muted but outerwear was modernised through Carr's confident use of colour blocking, which worked well on a simple black coat that was given a bright orange outline on the collar, shoulders and down the front. While this collection was a step in the right direction, we can only hope that Carr takes more risks in the seasons to come.
Last season Alistair Carr's debut menswear collection at Pringle of Scotland was met with a mixed response which isn't the best thing when you have just taken the reigns at a big fashion house. For Fall 2012, though, things seemed to take a step in the right direction.
One of the difficulties, if you can call it that, when taking on a brand like Pringle's is figuring out a way to work with the brand's heritage whilst not being overwhelmed by it and that is something that Carr seemed to get to grips with this season. The knits were included in just about every look ranging from uber thin styles to cable versions in hues like camel - which has popped up everywhere - to burnt orange and blue. Like many other designers Carr embraced a lean silhouette which worked well on outerwear and especially on jeans.
Whilst the loyal Pringle customer will appreciate the core basics that appeared throughout, Carr began to show signs of attracting a new younger customer through the introduction of pieces like a pair of bright red leather trousers that added something interesting to to an otherwise safe camel-toned look.
This month has been a busy one for Pringle of Scotland. This pre-fall season marked the first for the house under the direction of their new creative director Alistair Carr and to help celebrate, the collection has just dropped on Italian e-commerce website, The Corner, along with their own mini-store.
If you're still unfamiliar with The Corner, it's definitely worth checking out. The online shopping space has become so saturated over the last few years but the site, which is part of the successful Yoox Group, has managed to separate themselves from their competitors by giving customers access to the world of the given featured designer in their personalised virtual 'corners' on the site. Multimedia content like videos accompany designers' products in their customised 'mini-stores' and that's exactly what they've done with Pringle of Scotland with their two latest collections. Tilda Swinton, the long-time face of the brand, was brought on board to quizz Carr on the new resort collection, his design process and what it was like to take the reigns at such a much-loved heritage brand.
In the interview Carr explained that he will always respect the brand's heritage but it's important for him to also take it forward. In light of that, the brand's new collaboration with Central Saint Martins students make sense. Under the watchful eye of Louise Wilson, MA students were given the opportunity to go through the brand 196 year old archive collection to design a capsule collection of 12 pieces that served to reconnect the present with the brand's long history.
Claire Waight Keller made a swift exist at Pringle of Scotland last month after six years at the brand, and today, the label announced her replacement. Alistair Carr has been appointed as the new design director after working for Marni and Cacharel, and most recently, Chloe and Balenciaga.
On the appointment, the brand's CEO, Jean Fang, said: "We are thrilled to have Alistair on board. His passion for both cutting edge and contemporary luxury design is the perfect alliance for Pringle of Scotland, and we look forward to continuing our success as an international luxury brand with an emphasis on knitwear."
And Carr is just as pleased about the partnership. "I am proud to be joining Pringle and I am excited to explore the rich heritage of this brand," he explained.
It looks like Tilda Swinton's collaboration with Pringle of Scotland was not a one-off. The house has announced that they are keeping the Oscar-winning actress for their Autumn/Winter ad campaign. This time however, Swinton is joined by Douglas Gordon. This season the campaign was inspired by ‘the wild natural beauty of Tilda Swinton and the Scottish Highlands’ and was shot in Loch Fyne by Ryan McGinley.