New (old) dress purchases

I honestly think I have a problem when it comes to buying dresses. I need to pay my masters fees, but instead I have purchased lots more dresses. It’s a real life problem.

Anyway, I thought i should share one of said dresses because a) it’s fabulous and b) it’s a Horrockses

IMG_0660

IMG_0661

This lovely Horrockses number (yes, another one!) came from a lovely lady I fleetingly saw at the Chap Ball last year. She was wearing  what can only be described as the most fabulous dress I have ever seen. Anyway, we became friends on facebook and she offered me this simply sensational Horrockses which i could not resist adding to my collection.

The dress is from 1948 and the print is by Alastair Morton, you can see the dress in a slightly different colourway in this advert. The dress cost £5.7. 8 a fair sum for a printed cotton frock in the period. The advert featured in Vogue in May 1948.

IMG_9055

It’s interesting to see that the price of this dress is also shown with relation to the amount of coupons it would have cost (10). This was because rationing was still in force in 1948 (read more about rationing here). I was also interested that the dress fastens down the back with buttons, whereas a zip fastening would have probably been better. Again, I think this is probably due to rationing. Although I do have a few earlier Horrockses with zips most do fasten with buttons.

This advert also suggest that the dress was an exclusive to Harvey Nichols. I wonder whether this was just the dress in this colourway, or whether the actual print was an exclusive. My dress only has the Horrockses label, so I can’t be sure.

I was then rather chuffed to find an article ( by absolute accident) in the April 1948 issue of Ambassador. Images from the article are below, and you can see a number of absolute classic Horrockses prints that I have seen time and time again featured in it. I have also transcribed the full article as owing to my terrible photography skills you can’t really read it!

IMG_1280 IMG_1281 IMG_1282 IMG_1283 IMG_1284

Horrockses style new fabrics and fashions

For many generations the name Horrockses has been a household name  synonymous with quality cotton goods. Horrockses fashions ltd. Makers-up of cotton fabrics produced exclusively for them by the parent company (Horrockses crewdon and Co. ltd. Preston) are now marketing a collection of fine fabrics and fashions on which this feature is based.

 

During recent years tremendous strides have been made in the technical and aesthetic development of  cotton fabrics. The materials shown here have passed exhaustive tests for fading; they are shrink-proof, fast to light and washing, and have been treated with Horrockses Finish for permanent crispness.

 

Alistair (sic) Morton, one of Britain’s soundest and most progressive textile designers, has not only created this range, but  has also supervised the technical production. His rich clear colours emphasise the gaiety of the patterns right through to the styling of the garments themselves (models for town and country, beach and ballroom, housecoats, etc.). Great care in the making has been taken to facilitate laundering and ironing. Horrockses’ fabrics and fashions- right in quality, style and moderate price- are amongst the most interesting British export goods.  

In a moment of intense geekery I was particularly interested to note the mention of Alastair Morton here, as Horrockses were keen to portray a total image for the brand rather than convey the individual designer. Here, and also in a later 1948 issue of Ambassador (an altogether similar feature) Morton’s name was prominently featured. Perhaps early on in their marketing strategy this was a technique they chose to follow, before later ( i reckon after Cleveland Belle became director) abandoned. My other thought on this is whether this was actually an extended advert that Horrockses paid for, or whether this feature was of the Ambassador magazine’s choosing…If this was not a promotional feature it was certainly unusual for a single company to take up a whole article in this manner for Ambassador and again suggests the importance of the brand in the late 1940s.

On a slightly related note, if you want to help me out, so I have the money to pay my masters fees ( I promise I won’t spend it on more dresses) I have lots of fabulous pieces in my etsy shop right now, and on my ebay too.

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!

Sale purchases: Vintage and new!

In the past week I’ve purchased a few very nice items in the sales, and I just want to share a few of the items, in outfit form.

This was my outfit for my first day of spring term at uni. Day 1 and already readings and essay set *sob*. I am super excited though about the modules for this term. One of my module is about the eastern/ western cross-pollination in fashion primarily. Knowing me I’ll be turning up to uni in appropriate outfits every tuesday for my seminars.

The cardiagan is from Lovely’s vintage emporium. Super soft and COVERED in little white pearls. It ia also incredibly warm.

 

The belt came from Catherine Smith vintage in Harrogate a few years ago. It is real snakeskin in rich red.

Plain and boring gap t-shirt- I dread to think how many of these I own.
Sarah Coventry vintage brooch- I also have the matching earrings.

Russell and Bromley brougues. Ever practical.

AND this fab skirt. Reduced from £65 to £20 in the Topshop sale. It is one of the J.W.Anderson pieces. The quilted effect and paisley decoration actually reminds me of my Grandad’s dressing gown. Not sure whether that’s a good thing or not!