Presentation in the Jewish Historical Museum

Maison de Bonneterie

26 Augustus untill 4 December 2016

In 2014, the famous fashion house, which had always remained in family hands, closed its doors after 125 years of business. Maison de Bonneterie was a Dutch fashion retailer with branches in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Heemstede. The first shop opened in 1889. Over the years the family business grew into a chain in which style and quality were paramount.

Maison de Bonneterie was founded by Josef Cohen and Rosa Wittgenstein, both of whom had a background in the textiles trade. Rosa was related to the Berg family, which ran the fashion house Hirsch & Co, where she worked from the age of seventeen selling womenswear. As a representative of a Cologne-based textiles manufacturer, Josef made regular trips to Amsterdam, where the couple probably met. A month after their wedding in 1889, they opened a shop selling knitwear, known in French as 'tricot' or 'bonneterie'.

The shop in the Kalverstraat was expanded in 1893 and three years later the company opened a branch in the Gravenstraat in The Hague. The women's read-to-wear collections sold well and the shop soon added children's clothing to its range. In 1901 the shop moved to Kalverstraat 183, a three-storey building with a lift. The newspapers praised the shop's elegant interior with its beautiful carpets and chandeliers. But the company set its sights even higher: in 1909 it built a fashion emporium on the Kalverstraat and Rokin with a stained-glass dome, three galleries and two grand staircases. A similar building followed in The Hague in 1913

During the occupation, the Jewish firm was placed under German ownership and was almost entirely ransacked. There are plaques in the branches in The Hague and Amsterdam bearing the names of 68 employees - mostly Jews - who died in the war. Rosa Wittgenstein and the Cohen family, the owners of Maison de Bonneterie at that time, escaped to New York via Paris, Portugal and Cuba. On 5 May 1945 a large group of employees of Maison de Bonneterie took back possession of the building.


This exhibition is on view at the Jewish Historical Museum.


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With thanks to


Stichting Will en Rita Jaeger Fonds, Stichting Maatschappij tot Nut der Israëlieten in Nederland, Stichting Vrienden van het Joods Historisch Museum, SALOMON DE JONG Stichting, Marcelle Hertzdahl Fonds, Prof. dr. Herman Musaph Fonds, George Blumenthal.


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