There has to be something in the water at FIDM’s fashion knitwear design program. Last year at the school’s Debut 2010 showcase as part of Fashion Week El Paseo, we discovered Julia Nish, an L.A.-based knitwear designer who worked primarily with alpaca. On Thursday night at Debut 2011, another budding knitwear talent — recent FIDM grad Adelle Louise Burda — blew us away.
Burda showed a cohesive, colorful collection of hand-knitted and crocheted dresses, coats, legwarmers, and hats inspired by pre-1900 Russian villagers.
“I wanted to stay true to the colors that they wore,” she said backstage after the runway show. And to arrive at the vibrant blues, teals, and reds that comprised her collection, Burda, 33, turned to antique Russian photos, films, and even listened to Russian CDs to aid in her research. “I really wanted to celebrate the ‘peasants,’ which is what people from small towns were considered. Their clothes were so intricate and beautiful.”
Burda, who moved to L.A. from Minnesota eight years ago, was working as a manager at a paper goods store when she got the itch to use her love of crafting for something bigger than a hobby. After her musician husband introduced her to a friend who was making guitars from scratch on the east side of L.A., Burda decided that if he could pay the bills pursuing his passion, so could she.
“I saw what he was doing and I just kept thinking, ‘I wish there would be someone to pay me to knit!’” she said. So she headed to FIDM to refine her skill, which she’s been practicing since childhood.
Judging by Thursday night’s showing, the program clearly served her well. Standouts from Burda’s innovative collection included a bronze and cream sleeveless chevron-print shift dress, a body-skimming cream and brown knit maxi gown and each of her colorfully striped, fuzzy berets, woven socks, and ankle warmers — the quirk of which fit perfectly amongst her clothing. And, like Missoni before her, Burda is a big fan of co-mingling metallic Lurex yarn with more matte finishes, as she displayed in one primary-hued floor-length cardigan that featured thick, metallic color blocks at its hem.
“My heart and soul is in this collection,” said Burda, who had visualized her completed St. Petersburg line months before FIDM classes even started. And now it looks like she may be able to get paid for knitting sooner than planned — she’s currently finishing the details and launching a website for the namesake knitwear line she’s starting as we speak.
“What do I have to lose?” she asked herself before deciding to strike out on her own. Dream retailers currently include Barneys and, though she has yet to visit there, Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan.
“Besides, I already have my next collection,” she explained, of the Japanese calligraphy-inspired wares she wants to release next. “In my head, anyway.”