By Sujata Assomull
New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANSlife) The latest acquisition to Londons Victoria and Albert Museums Fashion Collection is a patchwork cardigan— while it hardly sounds like a collectors piece, the cardigan has become the iconic knitwear piece of 2020.
It all started pre pandemic, when Harry Styles wore a striking JW Anderson Spring/Summer 2020 multi coloured cardigan to a rehearsal show in New York—that picture went viral. The cardigan soon had its own hashtag #harrystylescardigan, and knitting replicas in this style became the new trending hobby during lockdown. So much so, that the British label even made a YouTube tutorial on how to knit this pattern. (It seems it was inspired by children’s toys—such as the rubik’s cube). The original knit now has a permanent home at the London based museum, next to creations by Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.
So if you thought the cardigan was something that belonged in your grandparents closet, think again.
Since that Harry Styles moment in February, this knit has been spotted on celebrities ranging from Katie Holmes to Kaia Gerber. It also made a few guest appearances in ‘The Crown; as it was one of Diana’s favoured knits back in her early days as the Princess of Wales.
There really is a cardi for everyone—from coat cardigans to crop cardigan; as climates become cooler, this knit is set to be the go-to item of Winter 2020. It suits all types of winters: choose between chunky wool cable knits to fine silk cashmere, depending on the warmth you need. It’s the dependable layer, a chic wearable blanket.
Coco Chanel was one of the first designers to recognise the fashion potential of the cardigan—her reason for liking this knitwear was that you did have to pull it over your face which often messed up her coiffed hair. The humble cardi actually has very aristocratic beginnings. The word cardigan comes from a title in the Peerage of England. It was the seventh Earl of Cardigan after whom this buttoned piece of knitwear is named after. A lieutenant general in the army, he wore a short, woolen sleeveless waistcoat to keep warm during the Crimean War (1853-1856). Known for a suave sense of style, his cardigans are believed to have been trimmed with fur, and after the war it moved from military to popular dress—and was one of the first garments that found its way from a man’s closet into a woman’s. A precursor to genderless clothing, if you like.
If Harry Styles was the musician to bring everyone’s attention to the cardigan at the start of the year, it was Taylor Swift who made sure it became the definitive clothing item of 2020 when her hit song ‘Cardigan’ released this summer. The lyrics remind you that the cardigan is a truly an underestimated piece of clothing. “And when I felt like I was an old cardigan. Under someone’s bed. You put me on and said I was your favourite,” sings the pop icon. A replica of the Taylor Swift cardigan she wore in the video was also available on her website.
If you are looking for that festive cosy fashion item this December perhaps it’s time to trade in the Christmas sweater for a chic but comfy cardi!
(The writer Sujata Assomull is an IANSlife columnist. Assomull is the author “100 Iconic Bollywood Costumes” and was the Founding Editor In Chief of Harper’s Bazaar, India.)
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