Over the past 40 years, Jenny Kee has become known for her colourful knitwear and her equally lively personality. She designed the famous koala knit worn by Princess Diana on her visit to Australia in 1982 (ask your mum about it), and in 2012 she collaborated with Romance Was Born.
Now she returns with a capsule collection in partnership with Woolmark. A New Beginning reimagines some of Kee’s most seminal pieces, featuring a range of knitwear made using Zegna Baruffa fine yarn (Australian merino wool, milled in Italy) and digital knitting technology.
“I’ve always worked with the most beautiful wools, hand-knitting, but this is moving it into another dimension – they’re being made modern. [Digital knitting] is a completely new way of producing my iconic designs,” says Kee.
There’s a timelessness to Kee’s pieces that defy trends. And she’s overjoyed that her designs are being embraced just as strongly now as they were in the ’70s.
“I see my peers’ 20-year-old daughters wearing my jumpers until they’re threadbare. This is two generations on, and they’re the ones that are hot for me! That’s what excites me, I have to say!”
Indigenous art and the Australian natural environment have always been sources of inspiration for Kee. She designed the logo for Wildplant Rescue, a non-for-profit organisation conserving natural plant heritage in urban areas of the Blue Mountains, where she lives.
“I’m looking out at a view that is 350 million years old. I’m living with ancient tree ferns. This is an ancient country, and all of the flora and fauna around it is ancient. That is why the Australian environment is so unique. I’ve honoured that since I started designing. This has been in my heart for more than 40 years … it’s singing the joy of this country.”
A New Beginning is showing at Pieces of Eight Gallery as part of the VAMFF Cultural Program Series until March 28. It will be available in stores in May 2015.