Newport, Sydney – a sunny, beachside enclave nestled along the sweep of Barrenjoey Road – is probably one of the more unlikely locations for the studio of a young designer who works with knitwear and wool. But this is exactly where Katherine Mavridis, a recent graduate of the prestigious UTS Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Textiles degree, works (and weaves).
A few steps from her home, Mavridis first moved into space when working on her final year collection, filling it with antique wooden desks, potted ferns and, of course, her two knitting machines. “Wool has this amazing quality in that you can knit with it, but you can also sculpt it with iron and steam and it comes to life again,” Mavridis says. “It’s really versatile in that way.”
It has been a fast learning curve for the young designer. At the end of her third year of studies, Mavridis bought a knitting machine on a whim and began the process of acquiring the new skill. “They don’t teach it at UTS, so I was kind of just going for it and teaching myself,” Mavridis recalls. “I took to it and it really suited my design aesthetic. I like working hands on and sculpturally and building from nothing, which is something you can do with wool.”
Her natural affinity with knitwear led her to Dion Lee, for whom she hand-knitted samples for a ready-to-wear collection exhibited at the international Woolmark competition in February. “It was great to work with a designer like that and work as a maker for him in a way,” Mavridis says. “He has a vision and I had to realise it for him technically, which was an incredible experience.”
The next step for Mavridis is New York, which will be her new home from August when she takes a place in the Masters program in fashion design at Parsons The New School For Design. “I’m ready to push my learning further,” Mavridis says. “I’ll only grow.” The prestigious two-year course has produced designers such as Donna Karan and Narciso Rodriguez. “After that, I think I’ll be able to go into my own label or maybe even get a great job in New York,” says Mavridis. “Who knows!”
Mavridis is currently producing made-to-order pieces for friends and family, selling via her recently launched website (“lots of beanies,” she admits, “just in time for winter”). She was also one of the select students invited to exhibit at the Campaign for Wool, currently on display at The Strand Arcade.
Her bespoke offering – a fluid, deconstructed sweater consisting of interlocking tubes of tightly knitted taupe wool – perfectly embodies her design aesthetic. “I’m mostly drawn to textures,” Mavridis says. “I like things that you would want to touch.”
Outside Mavridis’ studio sits her surfboard, wrapped carefully in a brightly coloured crocheted cover. “I didn’t make that one!” she admits with a big smile. “I’d love to say that I did though. I’m not the biggest fan when it comes to working with colour, but that’s something to explore in my studies at Parsons.”
There is a clear sense that New York is the place where Mavridis will come into her own. Just watch this space.