AMY HALL'S statement knitwear designs were in public demand before she even decided to launch her eponymous label.
"I was taught to knit by my mother and grandmother as a child and have been knitting ever since," Hall told us. "As someone who was always seen with a pair of needles in her hands, I was always getting asked by friends to teach them how to knit and about five years ago, I started to teach knitting in Peter Jones and then Liberty in London. As I gained confidence, I started experimenting more. I began to veer away from following traditional patterns and created increasingly dramatic pieces which I wore around town. I kept getting stopped in the street and asked where I bought those knits and after this had happened several times, I decided to get to work on my first collection which I launched last year."
London-based Hall originally trained a photographer before realising knitwear design was her forte and undertaking a summer course at Central Saint Martins. Now in her second season, the designer's work is defined by her use of British-sourced, extremely soft wool and ability to manipulate it into feminine shapes, with colour block, cropped jumpers, luxurious coats with thick ribbed sleeves, high-waisted skirts and body-con dresses with cable knit panelling.
"Now, more than ever, I feel that wool has a central part to play in fashion," she explained. "In an increasingly synthetic industry, it is the best renewable fibre we have. It is important to use natural yarns where possible and if wool is properly looked after, it will last you a lifetime. It keeps you warm, it's versatile, comfortable - it's simply a wonderful fibre to work with."
Despite the annual celebration of Britain's best loved fabric during Wool Week, backed by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Hall still thinks there is room for improvement within the wool industry.
"It's definitely picking up again now, but it could be better," she said. "Wool just doesn't sound terribly sexy to a lot of people - to many it's a functional thing rather than something that could make you look chic. Wool Week raises awareness of the brilliance of wool and knitting with it. Knitting and crochet are still seen as activities for elderly ladies, despite people of all ages getting in to it."