Dating clothing and Zips

It’s rare that I’ll just use this blog to link to another blog post, BUT I wrote this piece for Queens of Vintage (linked below) that I think a lot of my readers here might be interested in reading.

Dating Vintage clothing through zips.

If you have any further questions do ask away! : )

Horrockses and Margaret Meades

A few weeks ago I received a rather exciting email regarding Horrockses, and I suppose this blog posts as both a plea for anyone who owns/ has owned certain dresses and also providing some more information on the brand.

Horrockses during the 40s and 50s employed a large number of different designers to create their printed textiles, some such as Eduardo Paolozzi created only a few desings, whilst others, such as Pat Albeck and Graham Sutherland created huge numbers of designs for the company. Some designers, Albeck is a great example, have a very distinctive illustrative style which can be quickly recognised. Although others output and style was more varied. I know that some of the print designers worked on commissions for the fashion designers at the company (a lobster print created for John Tullis by Pat Albeck is a particular favourite of mine).

A typically Albeck design.

Although I have come across a large number of print designers for Horrockses  a chance search on twitter a few weeks ago turned up researchers gold.

One of the most special Horrockses I have is one printed with “Elizabeth Regina 1953”. Tht tweet related to this very print. The print was designed by Margaret Meades who worked freelance for Horrockses. Her designs weere mostly used in the early years of Horrockses fashions (late forties early fifties). 

Margaret trained at  Manchester College of Art where on graduating she continued to lecture for many years. Margaret was also a member of the Society of Industrial Artists.

Here are a few more of Margaret’s designs which were kindly sent to me by her daughter. It would be great if anyone has the original dresses, so that they can be compared to her designs.

The print above has to be my favourite by Meades, and is also very familiar, I feel sure I have seen this one before!

If you would like to find out more about Margaret Meades do visit the website

Also! If you have orignal dresses that feature any of the prints i have shown please do send me pics.

A quick note: All of these designs were sold to Horrockses, but they were not necessarily produced. As I explained in my post for Unmaking things Horrockses always overpurchased on textile designs to retain their design prestige.

You can read my post on Horrockses and marketing here

Investigating a mid 1950s floral dress

A few weeks ago I purchased what I thought was just another pretty homemade vintage dress from ebay.
What it turned out to be was something MUCH better.
When the dress arrived I had a cursory glance over it, and thought that the fabric looked a little bit like a Lucienne Day print. I was further intrigued by the fact that it felt heavier than traditional dress cotton- more like that used for curtains or furnishings.
On turning the dress inside out I found that down the selvedge of the fabric were printed the initials e w. I knew straight away what these initials stood for- Edinburgh weavers. The brand Edinburgh weavers have close links with Horrockses, and has henceforth been a brand I have been interested in for a while now.

This meant that there was a possibility that the fabric of the dress might be a Lucienne Day print. I had a hunt through the two books about Day I have but didn’t strike lucky- increasingly realizing that whilst the print was similar to her work it wasn’t quite her style.
My next port of call was the Edingburgh Weavers book. Here I struck GOLD. I found THE pattern of my dress. The print was by Jacqueline Groag and dated to 1956. The pattern book that it originally came from is housed in the Victoria and Albert museum archive… so my next step of investigation was to go and see the original prints in the flesh!
But who was Groag? I think Groag really came to the public eye last year after the exhibition at the fashion and textile museum which featured the work of herself, Lucienne Day and Marianne Mahler. Groag was a true European figure. Begging life in Prague before moving to Vienna and London. She started her career working for the Wiener Werkstatte, a group of progressive visual artists working in Vienne in the early 20thcentury. She then went on to produce prints for the likes of Lanvin and Schiaparelli in Paris, before coming to London. In London she designed textiles for furnishing and fashion, and also wallpapers working for (amongst other companies) Liberty, John Lewis and of course Edinburgh weavers.
As a quick aside, the AAD is wonderful. Located at Blythe House there are the archives for a number of key British companies and designers. You can see further the archives that the AAD holds on their hub on the V& A website.
The huge pattern book that the original fabric sample were contained in was quite frankly amazing, passing through the pages I encountered so many prints that I recognized from the various books I have read which illustrated Edinburgh weavers fabrics.
Around half way through the book I found what I was looking for, the original colour ways for the fabric of my dress!!!


I was particularly interested that this came in such a variety of colourways, it seems that Groag in particular (or by the books standards at least) was producing her prints in the largest range of colours.
I also like that down the side of the fabric samples you have the full details on the fabric itself.
So after this research what do I think about my dress? I’m pretty sure this is a homemade example created from Edinburgh weavers fabric. The cut of the dress, construction method, zip and boning used all points to it being made in the 1950s. So my assumption is that someone bought the fabric- despite intended as furnishing fabric, and used it to make a very nice dress! I’m certainly happy to have an original 1956 Jacqueline Groag printed dress.


If you want to find out more about Jacqueline Groag this book is excellent (I’ve only had a chance to have a flick through it…must go back to it in more depth soon!)
Or for more about Edinburgh weavers. Lesley Jackson wrote a definitive guide to the company last year.