Exchanging one fashion capital for another, Central Saint Martin’s graduate Kay Bolderson took to Milan to begin designing for renowned fashion dynasty, Missoni. In a design house famed for patterned knits and zigzag prints, knitwear specialist Bolderson began to feel right at home.

“When I first arrived, Missoni were collaborating with Vivienne Westwood,” Bolderson explains. “I worked alongside that range developing knitwear with a very ‘British’ feel.” And yet, with Missoni and Italy inextricably linked, it was not long until Bolderson began to explore the country responsible for the brand.

Missoni’s working design diary is very season driven, so there were times when we had tight deadlines, but also times when we were sent off on research trips.

“Missoni’s working design diary is very season driven, so there were times when we had tight deadlines, but also times when we were sent off on research trips,” Bolderson continues. “We often visited other cities to draw and collect inspiration.”

“At really busy times the designers also get involved in the catwalk shows and press shoots,” Bolderson tells me. “I enjoyed watching the whole design process... seeing your work on the catwalk is fabulous.”

As an in-house designer you can feel that your fabric design ideas have been developed into the wrong silhouette or shape.

Bold and iconic, personal fancy must wane to the house’s overall aesthetic. “As an in-house designer you can feel that your fabric design ideas have been developed into the wrong silhouette or shape. Freelance knitwear designers now sell not only the fabric idea, but the trend or garment as well.”

Returning to the UK to teach Textile Studies at the University of Derby, complete design freedom is now Bolderson’s to enjoy. Drawing upon trends and yarn for inspiration, Bolderson today sells her pieces in Paris, New York and Japan. With her time at Missoni clearly an inspiration, Bolderson adds: “My favourite work is always a mash up of different textures and colours.”

The Next Generation (Part 2) -->

Words: Elizabeth Neep

Patchwork: Tapestry by Ottavio Missoni, 1987