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
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.
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!
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.