Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood
This autumn London’s Fashion and Textile Museum presents a virtuoso collection of the woolly landmarks of the Twentieth Century, ‘Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood’. From an itchy-looking 1920s swimsuit, to a space age Pierre Cardin funnel neck sweater and all the way to a deconstructed Comme Des Garcons pullover from the ‘80s, this retrospective weaves the complex threads of fashion’s fascination with this practical and malleable textile technique into one bewitching showcase.
Although the Egyptians wandered around in knitwear, and early examples of woven knickers exist, this exhibition kicks off with function-led Victorian waistcoats. Moving swiftly to the ‘20s when sportswear was produced in this flexi-fabric, the visitor is then introduced to Coco Chanel’s irreverent and revolutionary twin set, which manipulated what was previously a utility material for high-society style.
By the ‘40s a make-do-and-mend attitude takes hold and multicoloured cardigans come from the unraveling of an old piece to re-knit as something new. After the war the American’s pushed woolly boundaries by introducing Hollywood’s sweater girls, like Lana Turner, and collegiate preppy pullovers and letterman jackets. However, Europe again became the progressives in this field with a new futuristic approach to shape, and in the following decade they introduced novelty patterns and affordable fashions from high street retailers, like Biba. Taking an experimental turn in the ‘80s thanks to designers like Vivienne Westwood, this textile was reworked in new and previously unimaginable ways.
This remarkable exhibition was sourced in near entirety from the proprietors of the largest vintage collection in Europe and co-curators of this exhibit, Mark and Cleo Butterfield.
The exhibition will be on display at the Fashion and Textile Museum until 18th January 2015.
The Fashion and Textile Museum 83 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3XF