A few years back when I began writing a book that I thought would be titled, Catwalk Crochet (until my editor, Valerie pointed out the obvious popular-culture slant the manuscript had taken on, and suggested we re-work what became, Pop Goes Crochet), I did a little research on what place the craft has had in fashion over the past century. It’s a topic I still really enjoy, so I thought I’d dig up a timeline I’d created and share it with you here. Enjoy!
Abandoning the deep colors of the Victorian period before it, intricate white laces mostly created using filet crochet and tiny hooks crept gracefully into turn-of-the-century fashion. Most often found in undergarments, nightgowns, yokes and wedding gowns, crocheted pieces were tasteful and delicate; perhaps reminiscent of the ideal female of that time.
Oh glorious days of flapper excess! Crochet’s place during the flamboyant 20’s took center stage in the form of ornately beaded handbags constructed by women at home as toppers to deliciously flashy ensembles.
The depression made luxury a thing of the fashion past for most, so old outfits became new again with the addition of simple, removable crocheted collars and cuffs. Gloves, hats and delicate wraps were also seen as sensible accessories during that time because they constituted necessity rather than frivolity.
As in the decade before, the economy directly effected every aspect of fashion including crochet’s role init. World War II took women out of the home and into the factories, leaving much less time for
needlework. Yarn was also harder to come by during the 40’s so women conserved and savored their wool, often producing scarves or lace kerchiefs. The major fashion statement of the time however was the hat, which thanks to the bulkiness of the crocheted stitch structure could be both stiff and sculptural enough for even the most amateur of milliners to created masterpieces with!
Thicker yarns were introduced during the 50’s, often replacing their thread counterparts. Much of what we see in modern crochet fashion can be credited to inspiration from mid-century clothing design, for this was the era of the capelet, bolero and cardigan.
Complete crocheted outfits made their way into fashion in the 60’s in the form of tunics, short skirts and matching pantsuits. Brighter colors and alternative fibers such as hemp, twine and rafia emerged as worthy supplements to the thicker yarns of the 50’s.
The 70’s were by far the glory days for crochet in fashion in fact, there was nary a garment in existence
that was safe from crocheted reproduction. Shawls, ponchos, hobo-bags, ties, bikinis, you name it–if it could be worn, then it could also be crocheted. This period seemed to lend itself to complete self expression as far as garments went and with acrylic yarns available nearly everywhere, crocheted fashion was available to anyone willing to pick up a hook!
Likely do to the absolute crochet saturation in fashion from the decades before them (as well as the social movement to abandon stereotypical “women’s work”), the 80’s and 90’s were largely dry periods for the craft. Pastel sweaters incorporating shoulder pads and belted waists made an appearance during the 80’s but seemed to have disappeared for the most part in the 90’s.
The first decade of this century brought a resurgence of crochet in fashion, as seen often on the runways. Hippie-chic, bohemian influenced patchwork, free-formed sweaters and wraps, ornate bikinis and delicate lace shells have all made appearances in fashion magazine
s over the past 10 years. Designers have finally embraced the convergence of knitting with crochet to broaden the possibilities of silhouette and structure. As the knit and crochet industry continue to flourish, hobbyists are creating their own couture pieces influenced by everything from the catwalk to magazines to modern cinema!
As we’ve entered into the 2nd decade of the 00′s, the resurgance crochet is becoming more and more apparent on the runways. Fashion as a whole has taken more of a “wear whatever style works for you” attitude than ever before. This allows for free-form crochet pieces to be worn and appreciated by the funkier set, and simpler layering pieces to be donned by all.
Even though its popularity has ebbed and flowed over the past 100+ years make no mistake about it, crochet has never disappeared from fashion completely. So pick up those hooks, because crochet appears to be here to stay!