Crochet Queen: London Kaye
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because crochet just became couture.
By Nat Roe
See London Kaye in person at OZY Fest, OZY’s festival of ideas, music, food, comedy, art and film, taking place on July 22nd in NYC’s Central Park. Find out more.
It’s 10 a.m. in Brooklyn as London Kaye slips into a REDValentino shirt. Just shy of her 28th birthday, the bright-eyed artist giggles when asked about the garment’s provenance.
“It’s a London Kaye original,” she sings. “They just sent them over.”
The new capsule collection from the couture label isn’t cut from beaded chiffon, lace or organza — it’s hand-knitted yarn designed by Kaye herself.
At 13, Kaye first experimented with crochet needles, making hats and scarves for fun. While she continued to crochet through her teens, it was actually a dance scholarship at NYU that took Kaye out of California and to New York City. Immersed in the proliferating street-art scene of the city, Kaye’s deep passion for cultivating craft remained dormant but not dead.
Like all good love stories, eventually, the truth came out.
Her Say Anything boombox scene came to fruition at an Apple store as she was selling a computer to an artist with a crazy crocheted bag. After the sale, Kaye immediately ran home to her Brooklyn home and wrapped a handmade scarf around a tree.
It was in this moment that Kaye decided to challenge herself. For 30 days, Kaye indulged in “yarn-bombing.” This practice takes the conventional notion of crochet and invites the outside world to interact. Whether it’s crocheted pieces completely covering a mailbox or woven into a chain-link fence, yarn-bombing brings “hand-knit goodness” (as Kaye calls it) into the streets and, in turn, defies typical definitions of art.
Her 30-day challenge quickly grew to 50 days, and each new mysterious, unsigned installation served as a breadcrumb in her journey to artistic fame.
Since leaving Apple in December 2015 to pursue crochet full-time, Kaye has been enlisted to create pieces for major brands, including Starbucks, Miller Lite, Chex Mix and, most recently, REDValentino, where you can buy her clothes and see her installations in their storefronts around the world.
As we wrap the interview, her phone is flooded with notifications. With a growing following on social media, she has fans who are desperate for more. But Kaye laughs. She’s not used to the term artist and she says she’s still not sure this isn’t just a dream. But what she is sure of is the intoxicating feeling she gets when people find delight in her work — whether that’s through a world-renowned fashion label or on a Brooklyn fence around an abandoned lot.