Were Alistair Carr's Designs Too Edgy for Heritage Luxury Label Pringle of Scotland?

Alistair Carr's designs for Pringle of Scotland Spring/Summer 2012
(Getty Images)

Are tattooed arms and boundary-pushing work too much for a 200-year-old Scottish knitwear label? Pringle of Scotland and its former creative director Alistair Carr have amicably gone their separate ways after a little over a year together, reported WWD yesterday.

Company CEO Jean Fang, who is also a member of the family that owns Pringle of Scotland, said, “I want to thank Alistair for all his great efforts and contributions at Pringle. We will miss him, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

When the iconic Scottish luxury knitwear label – which counts the Queen of England as one of its clients – appointed Carr as creative director in March 2011 following Clare Waight’s departure after six years due to personal reasons, he told WWD, “I plan to go through the archives in Scotland, and I think it’s important to respect Pringle’s heritage, but I don’t want to ‘do’ a heritage line.” Nevermind that the designer, who went to Pringle of Scotland after four years as Balenciaga’s head of show collections, had no knitwear experience – the label felt he could take things in a new direction.

Carr designed six collections during his reign at Pringle, driving it away from conservative separates and bringing it towards a more modern approach. Gone were the traditional twin sets favored by the Queen and Fair Isle and argyle patterns it was known for, and in were triple sets, pixely splatter paint prints, revealing eyelets, an abstract argyle take, and bold color blocking. Carr even recruited fashion design students from his alma mater — London’s Central Saint Martins — to collaborate on a collection, and artist Liam Gillick to help make an accessories and knitwear line. Carr also expanded the brand through accessories like handbags and shoes.

It appears that Fang wants to move the company down a quieter path, focusing on seasonal presentations instead of runway shows, and bringing emphasis back to core products like cashmere and modern wool separates, reported WWD. She made no mention of a search for a new creative director, instead designating design duties to Pringle’s in-house team.

Fang called the decision “mutual,” according to WWD, so perhaps Carr wasn’t feeling the position either. He will stay on for a few more months, art directing the company’s fall ad campaign, and presenting a spring 2013 menswear collection in London and a 2013 resort line in New York in June.

Will the refocusing help the heritage label find the new identity its been struggling to establish over the last few years? Hopefully, but Carr’s attempt was pretty successful in our eyes.

Click on the slide show for a look back at Alistair Carr’s career at Pringle of Scotland.