Friday, 16 January 2015

Knitwear in Fashion: From Pringle to Pingouin

MoDA's Curator, Sim Panaser, finds woolly delight at the Fashion and Textiles Museum

I have not yet successfully learnt to knit, but I come from a long line of knitting afficionados and therefore have amassed a large collection of woolly garments that I hold dear.  So I was especially excited to see an exhibition of purl love, Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood at the Fashion and Textiles Museum last weekend.  The exhibition features an eclectic array of knitwear from the Victorian era to present day from the private collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield, who are avid and important collectors of antique and vintage clothing and accessories. 

Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood, Fashion and Textiles Museum

                                           Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood, Fashion and Textiles Museum

The Butterfields' love for knitting began in the 1960s with a jumper knitted by Cleo as a teenager from a 1940s pattern.  Their passion for anonymous hand knits together with machine knits and jerseys of Chanel to experimental high fashion is what make the exhibition so fantastic.  You can see recycled yarn "make do and mend" jumpers, an array of fair isle sweaters (which I particularly coveted) alongside Comme des Garçons and Vivienne Westwood designs.  

Here at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA) we have a collection of knitting patterns, magazines and advertising dating from the 1940s to 1980s. I have chosen a selection below that mirror the themes of the Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood exhibition from elegance of the twinset to 1980s excess.  

Below is a 1940s catalogue from the London department store Marshall and Snelgrove featuring their Spring collection of knitwear. 

Fully fashioned lambswool and cashmere
Badda73, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture 

The glamorous jewel coloured cocktail sweaters with defined waists and decorative necklines that feature on the right hand side of the page became popular in the late 1940s. They were worn with a pencil skirt or full skirt for a contemporary evening look.   


 Glamour from Italy and be suited for the Spring
Badda73, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture 

In the 1980s classic yarns discovered fashion in the influential French Pingouin knitting magazine (see below).  During the 1980s Pingouin invited fashion designers including Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler to contribute patterns for the magazine, positioning knitwear as high fashion.  The magazine's editorial-style photography aligned it closely with high fashion magazines and showed how knitwear could be glamourous. Who wouldn't want to sip a martini in a luxe grey marl knit like the ones below? 

Pingouin Magazine, 1985
Badda4820 and Badda4824, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture

If you would like to see more of MoDA’s collection relating to knitting and knitwear please get in touch

In the meantime make sure you go and see  Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood at the Fashion and Textiles Museum. You can only see the exhibition for the next few days as it closes this Sunday 18th of January. Get down there quick! 

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