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.