At the end of last year, I became a woman obsessed. I fell deeply, headily in love and I came down with all the symptoms of a fairly full-frontal infatuation.
My mind would simultaneously wander and fixate, the object of my affection never far from wafting through my mind’s eye. I started seeing them everywhere and signs appeared that made me sure I had to get close to them. So far so sixth form crush, right? But my lust, instead of being directed at some bum-fluffed rugby captain, was aimed at something far silkier, rarefied and enviable.
It’s Bella Freud, or more specifically (before she files a restraining order) her knitwear. Her damn fine, knee-wobble-inducing knitwear. She specialises in fine-knit, merino-wool, intarsia patterned jumpers. They have been on every fash-pack Instagram account for a few years now, and she’s designed a variety of styles. They all have various slogans, like (Serge) ‘Gainsbourg is God’ or ‘Je t’aime Jane’ (Birkin) but the one that had got my tummy rumbling was her classic ‘1970’ design.
My God it was expensive, but I had got myself into such a state, I would have happily auctioned off various internal organs for a stroke of the good stuff. I eventually tried one on and inevitably fell even harder. As I paid for it, feeling vaguely nauseous, I had the spinning realisation that I’d finally made one my own.
(I want to add at this point that I have regained control somewhat, speaking as I am in the past tense, and have managed to focus again on the fact that it’s JUSTAJUMPERCALMDOWN. Living in a perpetual state of coveting stuff is super-grim, and a slippery slope I do try quite hard not to faceplant down.)
It’s still hands-down one of the most expensive additions to my wardrobe ever, but it’s knitwear, and I live in England, so, y’know. It’s an investment, I whisper over and over. I’ve invested. And that is true. As with any outlay worth its salt, it does that intensely pleasing thing of slotting completely seamlessly into one’s wardrobe, while instantaneously adding a point of interest. The point of interest in this case being bloody great numbers across the front. 1970. Writ large.
I’ve had a hilarious amount of speculation as to what it means, and my favourite encounter was with a particularly tiny, wizened, fuchsia-lipped, hardcore Brooklynite lady, Joan Rivers re-incarnated in West London, who sidled up to me and said in the best, breathiest 1960’s telephone voice ‘Whaaat dus ninedeen-sevendy meeeen?’ Fix up look sharp, I thought to myself, I need to get a snappy answer to this now surprisingly regular question. ‘It’s the year I was born’ I said. (for the record, I’m a 90’s baby). ‘Uuuuh my gawwwd you MUST give me the number of yuu-orrr plastic surgeon!’ quoth she. Reader, I married her.
The truth is that 1970 means nothing. The designer is quoted as saying ‘While messing around on my photocopier I spied the date 1970 printed in the corner of a page of a book I was leafing through. I kept blowing it up, then cut it out and pinned it onto my black jumper’.
Genius. Sure why not?! The greatest stuff is always the stuff that happens by accident anyway, when you’re not searching for it. I love that she hasn’t tried to cram some retro-fitted narrative over it. It is what it is. Maybe that’s why I was so drawn to it. With a life-long tendency to over-think, over-plan and over-compensate, maybe I was subconsciously attracted to something which is inherently chilled and free-wheelin. If it gives me a little of that unbothered, insouciant beauty and hope, maybe it was cheap at half the price after all. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for a good jumper.
I bought this gold lurex one too...