A Visit to the Chanel to Westwood Knitwear Exhibition

I had been meaning to go to the Chanel to Westwood Knitwear exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey ever since it opened last September. Nicky Barfoot posted a blog about the exhibition a few weeks ago – do check Nicky’s blog out as the collection inspired her to re-work some beautiful 1940’s vintage patterns and the results are beautiful! So on that reminder I dug out the leaflet and realised it ended on 18th Jan. Eek! Luckily I was working in London last Thursday, which also happens to be late night opening at the museum. I left work a little early and took the 30 min walk to the venue over Tower Bridge. There is something magical about London at dusk…

London at Dusk

On display at the museum was the private collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield who have a passion for collecting knitted and crocheted garments.

Below are some of my favourite pieces / collections from the exhibition. (Photography was not permitted in the museum so most of the pictures below have been taken from the FashionTextile – Chanel to Westwood Pinterest Board)

 Les Sportives – A collection of knitted swim and leisurewear. The 1920’s brought new freedom to younger people after the first world war. Their lifestyles became more active and knitwear needed to be functional in fit and movement as well as fashionable. My favorite piece from this collection was the fine knit blue and white floral bathing suit at the front.

FTM - Swimwear

Fashionable Folk – The trend of folklore and traditional European themes was strong in the 1930’s and 40’s.

FTM - Folk

Make Do and Mend – During the Second World War the government encouraged the re-use of clothing. This collection showcased sweaters that had been re-made by unravelling old ones and using the yarns to make new multicolored garments. My favourite was second from the left, it had a really interesting stitch pattern but unfortunately you can’t see it from this photo.

FTM - Make do and mend

The Fair Isle collection

Fair Isle - FTM

The Novelty Knits – perhaps my favourite collection from the whole exhibition were these brightly colored, bold sweaters from the 1970’s and 80’s.

FTM - 1970's

The Ice Cream Sundae pullover by Dana Originals was especially striking.

Ice Cream Sundae Jumper

I’m so glad I managed to catch this exhibition before it ended, it was well worth the visit. I also found some inspired items in the gift shop, but will save those for another blog post!

6 thoughts on “A Visit to the Chanel to Westwood Knitwear Exhibition”

  1. Thanks for the post – I really wanted to see this one, but am just too dratted pregnant for a trip up to London, so the highlights summary was particularly interesting! A member of my local knitting circle reminiscences fondly about her grandmother unravelling cast-offs from a richer neighbour during war-time, in order to knit new garments – I’d quite like to try it sometime!

    1. Hi Jen, I’m glad you found it interesting, I just wish I could have taken photo’s of some of the pieces!

      I’d quite like to try remaking something too. My husband has a lovely woollen jumper that he never wears, it would be the perfect thing to frog and re-knit. Maybe I’ll give it a go!

  2. Thanks for the mention and glad my post helped you make it to this wonderful exhibition. I also fell in love with the 1980s sweaters, probably because they brought back fond (angst ridden?) memories of my teenage years. Looking forward to seeing what you found in the gift shop!

    1. Thanks for reminding me it was on, for some reason I thought it ran until March so I was very lucky to catch it! I’m a sucker for a good gift shop, I’ll take some pics of my purchases this weekend 🙂

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