I just had to share this with everyone. This is my latest Horrockses dress. Anyone who follows me on twitter may have seen it already (if not, why not? – @liztregenza). It is a pretty special design to say the least and I think it might be my new favourite in my collection. Saying this does make me feel like I’m cheating on all of my other Horrockses by saying it, but this one is show stopping. Quite simple in design, but wonderfully elegant, crisp and I believe in unworn condition. The dress has its original integral petticoat still and this is SO clean and white still it is almost scary.
So onto the design of the dress itself. The dress is probably a John Tullis design. Tullis designed one of my favourite Horrockses dress that isn’t in my personal collection ( a dress that once belonged to Lucienne Day). See my blog post about the other dress here. Tullis was renowned for the complex cut of his dresses, which many of the seamstresses complained were a nightmare to stitch! Tullis got his training at Molyneux the couturier in Paris. This couture training could be one of the main reasons for the complicated cut of many of his garments. If you spot a Horrockses with a particularly complicated bodice, or details like pockets on the outside of a dress, then it will be probably be a Tullis design!
As far as Tullis designs go (or probably Tullis designs!) this isn’t the most complicated of designs, but it is an interesting piece. The design is what is known as a “unit” design. The bodice are made from related but different patterns. A process which was used for dresses where quantities were limited.
Something that I find interesting about Tullis is it appears he was the only fashion designer to ever be credited for his designs, a feature in Vogue stated (of a Horrockses dress) “designed by John Tullis” something which annoyed Herbert Mallot and prompted him to stipulate “ a Horrockses’ fashion production is, in the future, described as such and that no reference is made to the individual who created it…I must stress that the goodwill of our fashion business must remain in the name of Horrockses and not in anyone who is employed by us”. This probably happened because of Tullis’ couture credentials, which was also one of the reasons why he was hired in 1950, to bring prestige to the brand.
In my opinion this dress probably dates to between 1955-58 (if memory serves me correctly 58 was when Tullis left). As this is a size 10, a size which Horrockses (it appears) did not begin producing to 1954/55.
So how do I know so much about this dress? It’s a pretty important design I have to say. Not only does it appear in Chris Boydell’s book on Horrockses, but the design was also the inspiration for one of the new bedding ranges that features Horrockses original prints. This particular print named “Sophia”. I actually have the bedding on my bed back at home! (I’m at uni at the moment so my bedding is some very dodgy Asda value sheets : /) I bought my bedding at full price but on the website now there is 20% off. I urge you to go and have a look it really is lovely stuff made of really good quality cotton and when I ordered it arrived amazingly quickly.
And one last note on my new dress. It’s a perfect fit!