story by Lisa Radano
photos by Charles Beckwith
What was Lindsay Degen’s inspiration for her Fall 2013 collection? Initial research revealed her usual knitted and crocheted silhouette of crop tops or tunics over leggings were this season embellished with colorful yarn nubs, twigs, pods and jagged strands. Field interviews provided additional data as to the source material for these peculiar and specific decorations, further indicated by the show’s title, “The Doctor,” and the assorted garment names; “Rare Strain Pants,” “Germ Shorts,” “Virus Sweater Dress,” “Platelet T,” and my favorite: “Yuck Sweater.”
It was with some concern that I asked the young designer if she’d come down with an illness or a case of hypochondria since we last saw her. “No no, I’m fine,” she reassured, “my parents are both geneticists and this show is dedicated to them!” Leave it to the goofy charm of Degen to turn the study of genetics into a line of knitwear that a young person learning that science might, in their free time, wear to a coffee house or club. She pointed out the projected images on the wall of the Industria studio were slides from Mom and Dad’s work and research, and explained how the intricate structure of the body’s cells correlated to her designs. “I’ve always felt there was something mathematical about knitting clothes. I’m a math nerd at heart I guess…”
A tableaux of equally young models clad in muted, corporal colors zapped with bright pops of biological neon were topped with generous cowls or the designer’s signature Smurf-y stocking caps. Tall, rubber tire wedges had clear side panels to show the charming socks layered beneath. A new foray into woven, printed fabric was used on Ottoman pants.
On the whole, Ms. Degen managed to combine her nerdy passion for pattern and form with her unbridled affection for her parents. In fact, the line drawing of a bespeckled man on a sweatshirt turned out to be the very same Dad who was present and snapping pictures of the wispy, dancing models. In the matter of her scientific dexterity, I asked him if, in his professional opinion, he thought she’d got it right. “No not right, better,” he said, radiating pride for his daughter’s talent, which surely must be genetic.