Horrockses and Lucienne Day

Whilst busily researching for my masters dissertation today (ok, perhaps not so busily, perhaps more flicking through the Ambassador at a leisurely speed) I happened to stumble across something rather exciting. Initially I felt like I might keep this snippet of information to myself, but  realised it was just too good not to share!

Thanks to Chris Boydell I have long-since known that Horrockses purchased textile designs from Lucienne Day, but it was never clear whether any were actually put into production. This was because Horrockses purchased up to 1000 prints per year and not all of them were used. Furthermore, Horrockses did not tend to publicise the name of the designers who created the prints. In the early years the links between the brand and Alastair Morton were made explicit, but as time went on they were more determined to create a unified brand image and hence such links were played down. The notable exceptions being Louis le Brocquy and Eduardo Paolozzi. This all meant that even if Lucienne Day’s print had gone into production it would be difficult to know for certain if they were designed by her.

Therefore when going through a January 1950 copy of the Ambassador today I was pretty damned excited to turn up these four designs.



Designs by Lucienne Day for Horrockses

So keep your eyes peeled for these prints on Horrockses garments, because if you find them I think this would count for vintage gold. I think all four are Horrockses (other designs throughout the article only mention one manufacturer per page), although it *might* just be the red abstracted rose design.

As an aside, these images come from an article on the “Society of Industrial Artists” for its Biennial review. I believe this was to promote the use of British artists by British fabric producers. I’m going to keep my eye out for more booklets/ articles relating to the Society of industrial Artists, the images found on these pages were certainly pretty inspirational.

The images too also interested me as they quote Day’s name as D. Lucienne Day. Her name was actually Desiree but she didn’t use this name. This is the only time I have ever seen her referenced as this! This is quite early on in Day’ fame as a designer. 1950 was the year that she designed her first textile for Heals, ” Fluellin” and gained widespread recognition.

For two further posts relating to Day and Horrockses take a look here and here 

Laura Ashley: Romantic heroine at Bath Fashion museum

I’m down in Hampshire this weekend doing some research for my masters dissertation, but whilst i was down sarf’ I though it would be rude not to take a trip to Bath and view the Laura Ashley exhibition on there (particularly seeing as I am currently obsessed with the brand).



The exhibition is a fabulous trip into the Laura Ashley brand, perfectly capturing a particularly period during the 1970s when Laura Ashley defined the zeitgeist for a return to floaty Victoriana.

What the exhibition gives you a great idea of is the re-use and readaption of prints. Changing garment shapes and applying the same print, changing colours and actually chaning the complete feel of the dress.


Personal favouirtes for me were the dresses that featured Bloomsbury -esque prints in zingy lime and hot pink. (the lime dress here features the same print as the dress I wore to the LA press day)

IMG_9642 IMG_9644

One of the strongest aspects of the exhibition for me was the labels. These dresses were expertly put into context with the stories of the original owners coming through and making you really examine the dresses. They also helped to give a real idea of the Laura Ashley store experience from a customers point of view.



I adored this patchwork skirt that was made from scraps of Laura Ashley fabric in the 1970s.


There were a couple of garments where you could see Laura may have missed the mark and gone too far in re-creating the Victorian look, but these were interesting nonetheless…



There were even a few garments that showed the slightly sexier side of Laura Ashley (MASSIVE WANT towards the green dress seen here!)


As you can see from my pictures you could get up nice and close to the dresses, and really have the chance to examine them closely. The space (as you rarely find with fashion exhibitions) was light and airy giving a chance for a real appreciation of the colour and texture of the dresses. A great job on keeping the public far enough away not to be able to touch, yet close enough to be able to see the detail.

Criticism? A few minor niggles really. I would have like to have seen more than just dresses in the exhibition, I feel that there was not enough about Laura’s design process (sketches and fabric swatch books as seen at the archive mini exhibition would have been great). One of my other favourites is the matching mother and daughter outfits, which there was not one of in the exhibition. The few children’s dresses were not matching to adult ones at all. Also, I fully understand that the scope of the exhibition was just to concentrate on a brief period of the Laura Ashley story, but unless you are a fashion history nut like me I’m not sure how interesting it would be to see 90+ very similar dresses. But overall these critiscims are only slight and I passed a delightful two hours looking around, I also had a great chat with the FOH. Top marks Bath Fashion museum for your friendly staff (even if I did have to pay despite having ICOM membership!)


My advice? Get down to Bath before the exhibiton finishes on the 26th August, it will be moving on to the Bowes museum next.

Come and join me at Farnham Maltings on 2nd June

Drum roll * I am excited to make a little announcement on le blog today about a vintage fair I am going to be at!
Come and join me on the 2nd June for a day of vintage fashion and frolics at Farnhams maltings. Not only will I be giving a little talk and compering the fashion show, but I will also have a stall selling some delightful goodies. I’m trying to make sure I bring a little bit of something for everyone along, and will be coming armed with vintage fashion and accessories from the 30s to the 80s. All carefully selected. I’ll definitely be bringing two sensational 60s suits, some amazing 70s maxis and a few of my old favourite cotton 50s dresses. So do come and say hi! It looks like being a very fun event.
Not only will there be a varied selection of stalls offering the best in vintage, but there are also a number of other events happening through the day including workshops and makeovers.
My stall will probably be something like this! (This was me at the festival of Vintage in Epsom last year)
Tickets are just £4!
If you see me at the fair do come and say hi! I will be typically attired in a crazy 50s dress- I promise!
Find out more about the fair here