CLOSE-KNIT: London’s Fashion and Textile Museum is mounting a show of 20th century knitwear, including pieces by the likes of Coco Chanel, Vivienne Westwood, Missoni and Comme des Garçons. The show, “Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood,” begins Friday and runs through Jan. 18.

“Knitwear is imbued with narrative and memory,” said Dennis Nothdruft, curator of the Fashion and Textile Museum during a walk-through of the show, which is built around 150 designs that belong to Mark and Cleo Butterfield, directors of C20 Vintage Fashion. 

“This exhibition is a way of accessing other people’s stories, in particular the fashion sensibilities of collectors Mark and Cleo Butterfield through their iconic and personal pieces,” he added.

Highlights include rare Chanel cardigan suits, 1930s swimwear, vibrant Missoni patterns on short-sleeve T-shirt and 1970s Bill Gibb designs. 

The exhibition explains the role that knitting and crocheting played in clothing and accessories during the early 20th century. Previously, knits were used almost exclusively as underwear, and were not considered important enough to be worn on the outside.

“Decade by decade, this incredible collection charts over 100 years of knitwear history,” said Celia Joicey, head of the Fashion and Textile Museum.

“It is the first exhibition of its kind to explore not only key designers, but also technical innovations in hand, machine and industrial knitting. Knitwear in fashion is often taken for granted, but this exhibition is an opportunity to celebrate knitwear center stage and to inspire future design directions.”

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