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Remember when knitwear presentations meant an endless variety of supersoft cashmere V-necks in more colors than can be found in a Baskin-Robbins display case? Yummy, but boring.  Well, Malo and Ballantyne, in their respective presentations this week, set out to prove that cashmere can be as luxurious as it is feminine.

This story first appeared in the February 23, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Eskimos have multiple words for snow, and Malo had an equal amount of variations when it came to the snowflake. The creative minds at the Italian company spun snowflakes into cashmere macramé, then painted icy blue and green snowflakes onto the pattern. The intricate snowflake motif popped up again on laser-cut beige and cream cashmere coats. Yet Malo is more than a one-yarn brand. In its first major Milan presentation, the Italian company focused on its growing group of products, which include cashmere and croc home accessories. Yet its pastel astrakhan coats, boots and bags would make any winter princess as giddy as a sugarplum fairy.

Dreary weather couldn’t dim the bright mood at the Ballantyne presentation on Monday night. Walking into its showroom was like walking into a layered Technicolor dream. Deep Kelly greens, cheerful yellows and watercolor lilacs popped up on feminine duster coats, sweetheart-neck prom dresses and slim skirts. Since the Italian investment fund Charme bought the venerable Scottish brand early last year, management has sought to increase Ballantyne’s ready-to-wear offerings without negating its famous argyle sweaters or its intrinsic Englishness. No worry there, with artichoke-print silk blouses and dachshunds cuddling up on V-neck sweaters. The company’s little argyle knits may have had “Nobody’s Perfect” embroidered on the front, but the collection sure came close to girly flawlessness.

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