Tag Archives: bernat Klein

Bernat Klein, 1922 – 2014

I’ve just today heard of the death of Bernat Klein, who in the 1960s and 1970s furnished the most wonderful woolen fabrics to designers from Chanel to Cashin.  I would imagine that most readers in the UK would recognize Klein’s name, but he never really gained name recognition here in the USA.  His death went unmentioned by the big fashion sites, such as Vogue.com and WWD.com, but it was news in Britain, and especially in Scotland where Klein lived and worked.

Several years ago I got an email from photographer Arthur Massey, who had worked with Klein in the 1960s and 1970s.  He sent along some fantastic photos, both of Klein at work, and of shots from some collections of Bernat Klein fabrics. To remember Bernat Klein, I’ve up-dated the post I wrote in 2009.

Klein studied art and textiles in Jerusalem and England, and in 1952 started his own textiles company, Colourcraft.  The company produced various woven fashion accessories such as ties and scarves,  but in the late fifties Klein began experimenting with producing tweeds.  These tweeds, based on years of color study and experimentation with dyes and weaving, were like nothing ever before seen.  They were so special that Chanel chose them for her spring 1962 couture collection.

That was only the beginning, as other couturiers – St. Laurnet, Cardin and Laroche – discovered the beautiful Bernat Klein textiles.   And thanks to the research by Jacqueline Field, it is now well documented that some of the fabulous mohair blend tweeds used by Bonnie Cashin were produced by Bernat Klein.  (See her article in Volume 33, 2006, Dress)

In the late 1960s Klein began working in polyester, developing ranges of color-coordinated separates in printed jersey knit, mohair tweed and wool twill.  Production continued throughout the 1970s, with the firm closing in 1981.  By that time, Klein had turned to painting, something he worked at until his death on April 17.

Please note that all photos are property and copyright of Arthur Massey, and may not be used without his permission.  That means don’t put them on Pinterest, please.

A mid 1960s fashion shot

Note Klein’s paintings being used as props in this shot.

Bernat Klein and his wife, Margaret

The remainder of the photos are from a 1970s fashion shoot showing the range of coordinating fabrics.

9 Comments

Filed under Designers

Bonnie Cashin Tweed and Leather Suit, 1970 – 71

I’ve been an admirer of the work of Bonnie Cashin for many years, so it struck me as odd when I realized that I did not have an example of her work in my collection.  I set about thinking and reading about Cashin, trying to narrow down what type of garment I wanted to fill this big hole in my accumulation of American sportswear.

First, I wanted my garment to immediately bring Bonnie Cashin to mind.  I wanted it to look like her work.  I also decided that I wanted something from Sills, from the 1960s or 70s, but I did not want a garment that was entirely leather.  I wanted something made from one of the fabrics that Cashin used very often, wool tweed.

I’ve been really interested in the tweeds that Bonnie Cashin used ever since I read a paper by Jacqueline Field, published in the 2006 journal Dress, the publication of the Costume Society of America.  The paper was not about Cashin; it was about Bernat Klein, a woolens designer working in Scotland.  Klein was quite famous in the UK, but here in the States he did not get the press attention that he garnered in Britain.  While studying the work of Klein, Jacqueline Field found that his wools were used not only by the great European couturiers like Chanel and Saint Laurent, but also Bonnie Cashin.

Klein produced couture level wool tweeds from the early 1960s through 1966, and again starting in 1969.  My suit was made in 1970 or 71, so it is possible that it is a Bernat Klein tweed.  One of his hallmarks was the use of different colors being used in one yarn, as you can see in the vertical yarn in the center of my photo.  He was also known for using thick and thin yarns to give texture to the fabric.

I’m not saying that my suit is made from Bernat Klein tweed, but it is fun to imagine that it might be.

Aside from the tweed, my suit has several of Cashin’s usual features:  leather bound edges, turn lock closures, no zippers, easy fit, interesting coloration.  The moment I saw this suit, I knew it was exactly what I needed.  The only thing wrong with it is that it actually fits me, and the desire to wear it is very strong.

These are not just pocket flaps.  There are substantial pockets, made from the same fabric,  under them.

Designed by Bonnie Cashin, made by Philip Sills, sold at Saks Fifth Avenue.

The side vents are a sporty touch.

The under collar is red leather.

The skirt has no waistband, just a strip of cotton bias.  There is a large covered snap to help secure the skirt below the top turn lock.

The skirt opening is on the left side.

I love the way the lines of the plaid are structured.

As I said earlier, this suit is from 1970 or 71.  How can I be so certain?  The F.I.T. Library has the original sketch along with a swatch of the fabric, and they have it posted on Flickr.  You might want to take a look at the sketch to see a bit about how Cashin designed.  It appears that she used her pattern pieces on more than one garment.  If she came up with a collar she liked, she would reuse the pattern, adapting it to a new design.  You can see this in the other sketches as well.

I’m very happy with my acquisition.  Now I need to find the hooded jersey dress that she designed to wear under the suit.  You can see  it in the sketch.

 

 

28 Comments

Filed under Collecting, Designers, Vintage Clothing

Bernat Klein, Photos by Arthur Massey

Several days ago I got an email from Arthur Massey, who during the 1960s and 70s, photographed the collections of Bernat Klein.  While not especially well known here in the US, British readers will certainly be familiar with his work.

Klein studied art and textiles in Jerusalem and England, and in 1952 started his own textiles company, Colourcraft.  The company produced various woven fashion accessories such as ties and scarves,  but in the late fifties Klein began experimenting with producing tweeds.  These tweeds, based on years of color study and experimentation with dyes and weaving, were like nothing ever before seen.  They were so special that Chanel chose them for her spring 1962 couture collection.

That was only the beginning, as other couturiers – St. Laurnet, Cardin and Laroche – discovered the beautiful Bernat Klein textiles.   And thanks to the research by Jacqueline Field, it is now well documented that some of the fabulous mohair blend tweeds used by Bonnie Cashin were produced by Bernat Klein.  (See her article in Volume 33, 2006, Dress)

In the late 1960s Klein began working in polyester, developing ranges of color-coordinated separates in printed jersey knit, mohair tweed and wool twill.  Production continued throughout the 1970s, with the firm closing in 1981.

Klein is still alive and living in the Scottish Borders.  Mr.  Massey would love to reconnect with Bernat Klein, and so if someone who has his contact information will post or email me, I’ll happily forward this on to Mr. Massey.

Please note that all photos are property and copyright of Arthur Massey, and may not be used without his permission.

Klein at his easel.

Bernat Klein and his wife, Margaret

Love this shot, showing a 1970s range of color-coordinated separates.

Comments:

Posted by Vintage Boutique Girl:

Yes, that last photo is absolutely dreamy! I love it! 

Wednesday, May 27th 2009 @ 4:27 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Agreed! I think Mr. Massey caught the true atmosphere of the 70s. 

Saturday, May 30th 2009 @ 6:21 AM

Posted by Rachel:

Thought you might be interested in this post about Bonnie Cashin. Our post also references Bernat Klein! 

http://blog.fidmmuseum.org/museum/2009/09/bonnie-cashin.html

Thursday, September 24th 2009 @ 10:43 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Rachel, Thanks so much for posting. The FIDM blog has very quickly become one of my favorites! 

Thursday, September 24th 2009 @ 4:36 PM

Posted by Helen Taylor:

These images are lovely. I manage the textile archive at Heriot-Watt University and we have a large collection. Jacqueline visited when she did her research. DO yuo have Mr Massey’s contact details as we’d love to get copies of these images for the collection – or just to get his reminiscenses about Bernat’s work. 

Monday, October 5th 2009 @ 8:14 AM

Posted by Angela Gladstone-Smith:

just read your comments about the work of Bernat Klein. My mother was a hand knitter who knitted at home in the 1970s. i remember the house being full of beautiful mohair yarns in a range of vibrant colours. his work was ahead of his time and he used shades of red/purle together when it was unheard of for these colours to be worn together.infact i think this was the start of my interest in yarn. I have a jumper that was hand knitted at this time using his yarn and it is just as wearable now as it was then! i now also hand knit and continue to be facinated by unusual wools.
My mother also made fireside rugs for his company. This was using a much harsher wool but also in bright colours 

Monday, November 16th 2009 @ 11:32 AM

3 Comments

Filed under Designers, Vintage Photographs