Miami's Karelle Levy Brings Rave-Influenced KRELwear to London
Raving and knitting are not, traditionally speaking, two pastimes that go hand-in-hand. Unless, that is, you’re fashion designer and yarn-weaver extraordinaire Karelle Levy.
Levy has been influential in turning knitting into a high-fashion medium, thanks to her highly innovative KRELwear label, which features a dizzying range of experimental, bold knitted items – often in neon colors. Her work has been worn by a range of celebrity clients and is created by Levy using a technique she calls “toobular knit design.”
“I’ve been using this technique for a really long time,” says Levy, “and it works out really well because there are no seams to rip, so the fabric will stretch according to amount of weight or surface area inside, so you can have all different kinds of body shapes.”
Levy’s eye-catching DiscGlo range is also heavily influenced by rave and club culture, as evidenced by a range of her yarns that glow either in the dark or under UV light. “I have 20 years of clubbing experience!” confirms Levy. But it wasn’t just personal experience that influenced the clothing design – it was also, rather surprisingly, the economic downturn.
“Most emerging designers decided to stop at that time, and most boutiques were buying more stable brands,” she explains, “so I had to find alternative ways to keep my company alive. Everything was dark and dreary, and I just decided it was time to go back to how my company started, by bringing fun back into fashion.”
The vibrancy and nightlife of her home city, Miami, also influenced the vivacity of the designs: “I come from Miami, which is a major club circuit,” says Levy. “We have Winter Music Conference and DJs coming in from over the world all the time. Club culture and nightlife is an essential part of what Miami’s about, and it’s also very colourful.”
Levy established KRELwear in 2003, after a fascination with textiles and creating fabric throughout school (“I have a pretty intense collection of yarn” she says. “It’s like my paint.") led her to begin knitting more and more items, accidentally establishing a collection.
The ethos of KRELwear, says Levy, is as bold as her designs. “I believe that whether we’re paying attention to what we wear or not, fashion is something that’s instilled ingrained in our lives,” she says. For the first time, UK audiences will now get a chance to see her work up close and personal, in an exclusive London event.
The show, taking place in London on July 21, will bring together Levy’s work and creative techniques, with a retrospective of her work installed, alongside photographs and items from the DiscGlo range in all their heady, glowing glory. New York promoter, producer and general fashionista Larry Tee will be DJing at the event, and Levy herself will be making “Quickies” during the show, which will see her creating custom-made items on the spot for several lucky clients. “It could be a dress, shorts, pants, sweater, socks, underwear, hoodie, scarf, hat, bikini, man-thong,” she says.
Luckily, the versatility of her chosen medium has allowed Levy to roam the globe creating these amazing one-off innovations. “It’s great, because I can travel the world and make clothing anywhere. Whether it be a trade show, an art fair or a yoga studio in the jungle, my sewing machine’s been all over the world.”