Now I know the knitwear is lacking on the blog at the moment and my Twitter and Instagram handles may seem a little random. Please accept my apologies. If you're not a longtime IWYTK reader (it's been almost six years now, so I wouldn't blame you if you were 'washing your hair' for most of that time) you may not know that I studied Fashion Knitwear Design. I know what you're thinking and yes it is a thing. For me, seeing jazzy jumpers with stitches that defy logic and cardigans that hang perfectly is akin to a football fan meeting, well, insert random footballer here. I'd been looking forward to the Fashion Knitwear: Chanel To Westwood exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum for a while, since it's the most dedicated show I'd heard about in a while. Consisting of a collection by Mark and Cleo Butterfield (they have one of the biggest archives of vintage clothing based in Devon), everything has been whittled down to produce a clear timeline of 20th century knitwear. From body-con to bathing suits (yes, knitted bikinis weren't just for posing purposes back in the day), it's all there and a real treat for anyone as obsessed as I am.
For me, the main highlights were in the downstairs part of the gallery featuring everything pre-1970. As it's a personal collection, there's a real mix of anonymous pieces that might have been knitted for a family member or friend, as well as the less cosy and slightly more experimental knits by Julien MacDonald. It's easy to forget that so many of the pieces that we take for granted now had to be discovered and the cultural significance of every development. Jersey was typically used for men's undergarments until Chanel re-purposed the fabric for chic yet practical clothing that allowed women to embrace their new found freedom. The main vintage exhibit sits nicely alongside the more current, visionary knitwear section plus there's an array of fashion photography and magazine clippings. Definitely one to visit if you want to learn more about the capabilities of the humble stitch and to wonder what might happen next.
Knitwear: Chanel To Westwood runs until the 18th January at the Fashion & Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3XF. It's not far from London Bridge and my fave brunch spot in the area Village East, so why not make a day of it!