Gyles Brandreth jumpers at Petersfield Museum

Karen Neville

Princess Diana

The first-ever exhibition of colourful novelty knitwear as designed and worn by Gyles Brandreth is on show throughout the year

Petersfield Museum and Art Gallery is delighted to announce the premier exhibition of Gyles Brandreth: Fun and Fabulous Jumpers, opening on 21 March.

Gyles Brandreth is a writer, broadcaster, actor, former MP and award-winning podcaster. In the 1970s and 1980s he became well-known for the distinctive jumpers he wore on breakfast television. Gyles designed these jumpers with his knitwear partner, George Hostler and their ‘Gyles & George’ brand has been a favourite among pop stars and celebrities since the 1980s, counting Princess Diana and Elton John among its early fans.

In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Gyles decided to share a jumper-a-day with his followers on Twitter and on Instagram and started wearing them again on TV, including Celebrity Gogglebox. A selection of these jumpers will be on display in this two-part exhibition. The Spring/ Summer selection will include the famous I’m A Luxury design as worn by the late Princess of Wales. In contrast, later in the year, the Autumn/ Winter selection will feature designs that take their inspiration from performance and pantomime.

Gyles’ passion for patterned knitwear began in 1975 when a friend gave him a bright yellow jumper with a Scrabble board on the front. The tiles on the board spelt out ‘Gyles Brandreth loves Scrabble’. From then on, Gyles finds fun and humour in his novelty knitwear and, most importantly, a desire to connect with people.

Through the 1980s, Gyles appeared regularly on British television; when he did, he always wore colourful knitwear. He has hundreds, at least one different jumper for every day of the year. George Hostler (1939-2018), Gyles’ creative partner, originally trained as a sculptor. But in the 1970s, formed his own design house, selling jumpers in London, New York and Paris. In the early 1980s, Hostler was based in Leicester, so their creative partnership involved Gyles sending designs sketches on a postcard, which Hostler would then create into a jumper, parcel up and send back to London by train.

Today, the ‘Gyles and George’ brand has been launched in partnership with American designer Jack Carlson. As Gyles says: “Without realising it, I like to think George and I were creating ‘classics’ – fun, and fabulous sweaters that have stood the test of time.”

Gyles Brandreth: Fun and Fabulous Jumpers
21 March – 2 September 2023
5 September – 23 December 2023
Petersfield Museum and Art Gallery
Petersfield Museum

The first-ever exhibition of colourful novelty knitwear as designed and worn by Gyles Brandreth. From a flying pig, corgi, and hearts to bow ties, a piano keyboard and penguins, this two-part exhibition celebrates these distinctive joyous jumpers. Designed over 40 years ago, they continue to bring fun to a new audience today.