Knitwear in Fashion Chanel to Westwood

Posted on

Open until the 18th January 2015, the ‘Knitwear in FashionChanel to Westwood’ exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum presents the changing style of knitwear over the 20th Century.

Jerry Hall wearing Jap & Joseph, Vogue, ‘Jamaica Blue’ May 1975 © Norman Parkinson Ltd

The exhibition emphasises the versatility of knitwear and explores the role knitwear played in 20th Century fashion as a whole, and how the style of knitted and crocheted items altered and remained the same over the decades.

Coco Chanel (1883-1971) in striped knitted jersey photographed in 1929 by Alex Stewart Sasha. © Hulton-Deutsch Collection / CORBIS

The showcase presents the introduction of the highly influential clothing made of machine-knitted jersey presented by Chanel in the 1920s, moving to the glamorous knitted evening wear for women in the 1930s.

Moving through to the era of World War Two, the exhibition draws attention to how the rationing of fabrics led to the recycling of old yarn to form multi-coloured sweaters.

1930s hand-knit daywear. Gold, marigold primrose and brown chevron crochet knit (left) and Shetland wool ‘feather and fan’ stitch short-sleeved knit. © Fashion and Textile Museum / C20 Vintage

The 1940s saw knitted and crocheted clothing becoming more prevalent due to its popularity amongst Hollywood stars, leading to the presence alluring cocktail sweaters of the 1950s, which featured defined waists and embellishments at the neck and shoulders.

Sleeveless, side buttoned, heather grey knitted ensemble, US Vogue, February 1947 by Horst P. Horst © CORBIS / Condé Nast. © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis.

The exhibition stresses how the knitwear designs of the 1960s became significantly more futuristic, presenting the crocheted mini-dress and mini-skirt suits that were so admired amongst the young women of the decade.


Softly tailored coat using ‘cut and sew’ methods constructed from heavy single-jersey fabric, c.1920

The 1970s aspect of the exhibition reveals the prevalence of bright colours and bold kitsch motifs, as created by designers such as Ossie Clark, Biba, Rae Spencer Cullen for Miss Mouse, Bill Gibb and Mary Quant, and the display also reveals the individual, stylish designs of the admired designers of the 1980s, such as Vivienne Westwood, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons, Zandra Rhodes and Sonya Rykiel.

Feb 1976 -® Norman Parkinson Ltd

Knitwear in Fashion Chanel to Westwood exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London from 19 September 2014 to 18 January 2015. Do not miss it!


Avatar photo

Written by Kate Grimbley-Smith

Kate is a Business Management student at the University of Birmingham, passionate about all areas of journalism, in particular fashion with a keen eye for how the traditional aspects of fashion are reflected in new collections.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *