Horrockses brand name purchased by Bluewell ventures

So, after months of wondering who has purchased the Horrockses brand name yesterday it was announced that the brand had been purchased by a company called “Bluewell ventures”, a Manchester based company. Back in April I wrote about my fears/ thoughts about the sale of the brand name which you can read here, and now the sale has actually happened I am not sure how I feel about it.

First off a note of annoyance on the telegraph article (yes I am being pedantic, but that is me all over). WHY newspapers feel the need to attribute EVERY vintage trend popularity to Mad men is completely beyond me, funnily enough there are more things than just mad men that has influenced the way people dress in the last 5 years or so… And secondly, Horrockses are famed for their “50s style dresses”, NO Horrockses were famed for their dresses in the 50s. Tsk, the Telegraph, tsk.

At the time numerous articles were suggesting that major high street retailers such as John Lewis were interested in the brand, but rather than a well known purchaser “Bluewell ventures” (a company formed only in May this year)  has stepped in. I am feeling pretty glad that it is a Manchester brand that has purchased the Horrockses name though as this sticks with the Heritage of Horrockses as a Lancashire company and I hope this is remembered as a factor. I hope this also means the potential for garments to be produced in the UK too, as I think the “Made In England” aspect of Horrockses pieces is part of what makes them so special.

So what will happen now? We shall wait and see what the company do with the brand, but the telegraph report seems to suggest a revival of Horrockses as a fashion brand. I hope they remember that Horrockses were renowned for their QUALITY. If they are going to produce clothing again these need to be produced in beautiful cotton that respects the original designs. I would be perfectly happy seing more home items using Horrockses prints, but fashion garments? I’m not so sure that bluewell ventures will be able to do the Horrockses brand name justice, but we shall wait and see…

Read the telegraph article here.

More Horrockses delights

In the past few weeks I’ve done what can only be described as “a bit of a whoops” and purchased quite a few more Horrockses. This always seems to happen when I sell a few, that a sudden flurry of the beauties come into my collection.

So first off a quick share of my three most recent purchases:

This little number is erm. Not so little! Uber glamorous late 50s cocktail dress which came from Emma Hasell also a HUGE collector of Horrockses.

This one came from found and loved in Cheshire Street, just off Brick lane. I’ve been picking up some good pieces up in Brick Lane again recently after finding everything hugely overpriced for a while prices seem to have calmed down rather. (I can’t remember exactly what I paid but I think it was £40!)

I nicked this picture of me in the dress from Found and Loved instagram.

And my piece de resistance was this Horrockses. It has to come in my top 5 best Horrockses, partially because the print is fantastic and partially because it has a brilliant story. The dress came to me via The Vintage Emporium (just off Brick Lane) and thanks to my ever wonderful friend Naomi Thompson. As soon as I saw the picture on her iphone I HAD to have it, and had a hunch it was an important piece.

For fellow Horrockses obsessives a quick close up look at the print shows you that the dress has clear hallmarks of Alistair Morton, who was a print designer working with Horrockses particularly in the late 40s. The sketchy exuberant take he had on floral patterns helped to move them away from being just florals and into something more abstracted, less twee and with a greater focus on creating “art fabrics” rather than just textiles for dress. The finely drawn flowers seen in these close ups show striking similarities to another of my dresses by him, dating to 1950. But this one, with its printed label is just a little earlier.

The dress with its longer length and slight off the shoulder style has hallmarks of a late 1940s design and that it is, dating to 1948. Rather fortuitously I remembered the dress had appeared in a slightly different colourway at the Horrockses exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum back in 2010.

Not only did the dress appear in the exhibition, but there were also Morton’s original sketches and colourways for the print on display. These had been lent for the exhibition by Abbott Hall where the majority of the Edinburgh Weavers archive is held.

There is one last detail about the dress though that takes it from the realms of “special” to “super special”

Yep. That’s Queen Mary holding the corner of a dress in the same print as mine. The image comes from 1948 when Queen Mary visited the Horrockses headquarters on Hannover square. Pretty special right?

Now to go and hunt out the 1948 Vogues to see if I can find it there at all too!

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

http://highlandpaintingandprints.co.uk/index.html

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

liztregenza@hotmail.com

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