It’s nearly 70 degrees in New York City today, at the start of an unusually warm November, and yet already the signs of the season are bearing down upon us. I’m still making my way through a barrel of Halloween candy, but I just noticed a Christmas tree has arrived on a colleague’s desk. And the office air conditioning is certainly making it feel frosty, which brings me to my favorite subject this time of year: the holiday sweater.
I’ve been writing about them forever, and yet never lose interest in their popularity on levels both sincere and ironic, from the science and inspirations behind their designs to the drunken pub crawls and hipster contests to be crowned the ugliest that they inspire. And of course, there have been more fashionable versions of these novelty knits for some time, but this year’s twist comes from our friends in London at Matchesfashion.com, who have paired five leading designers with their muses to create festive sweaters to benefit Save the Children charities. The collaboration launched today on the web site, where the sweaters are available for $516 apiece.
“Fashion is such an effective tool to get across an important message en masse,” the model Erin O’Connor says in an interview on the site. “The fact that we speak in pictures is a great medium to get people to connect to Save the Children in a new, positive, and fun way.”
O’Connor happens to be wearing my favorite of the five designs, a red cashmere jumper (as they say of sweaters in London) by Giles Deacon that is trimmed with black grosgrain ribbons, long enough to be worn as a mini-dress and slightly Seussian in its comic proportions. Perfect for the Betty Lou Who in your life (pictured, above).
Of the others, Henry Holland and Dree Hemingway created the design most suggestive of the holiday sweater spirit—a very loud fuchsia crewneck emblazoned with the word “Jolly” in cursive string script (below).
The remaining three approaches could be described as more evergreen (pictured below, from L-R): Charlotte Olympia and Karen Elson made a green knit embroidered with a leopard chewing on a shoe (don’t you hate when your pets do that?), and Christopher Kane and Poppy Delevingne designs a black style with large white sequins so big they resemble polka dots. And, finally, Bella Freud and Kate Moss collaborated on a sweater that says “Fairytale of New York” on the front and “Punk” on the back with a red star. While not exactly keeping with the tradition of holiday sweaters, it is, at least, wearable year round.