Wednesday 8 September 2010

Horrockses Fashions

A few weeks ago I popped down to the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey to have a look at the new exhibition; Horrockses Fashions. Not really familiar with the brand before I visited (as is sadly the case for a lot of traditional British brands who had their heyday in the first half of the 20th Century, ceasing trading long before I was born), I learned that Horrockses Fashions Limited was the manufacturer of one of the most respected ready-to-wear labels of the 1940’s and 1950’s, with the company best known for its full-skirted dresses that were eagerly sought after and whose popularity was cemented after being worn by the Queen.

A timeline chronicling the peaks of Horrockses success brought together fashion photography, archive materials and fabric swatches, enhanced by personal recollections and a selection of exquisite dresses from private and public collections looking at the brand’s role in post-war British fashion and the link between couture and ready-to-wear clothes during the period. Through the wealth of the aforementioned materials available FTM expertly explore the links between manufacturing, design, and the emergence of ‘brands’ during this remarkable era, focusing on how targeted selling and advertising helped shape the customer relationship with Horrockses.

As enchanting as all previous exhibitions (remember how much I enjoyed Very Sanderson?!), I was blown away by how beautifully printed and cut the clothes were – in the prettiest and most luxurious fabrics and colourways. With sexy hourglass enhancing silhouettes a plenty and - what may now be considered as ‘old fashioned’ -house coats on display, my mind instantly drew parallels to Mad Men and the recently re-popularised fashions of the early 1960’s, where everything was geared towards highlighting the waist.

After wondering through this exhibition all I could think for the rest of the day was, why don’t they make clothes like that anymore? Surely modern women want to look just as classically beautiful... Answers on a postcard please!

Horrockses Fashions – off the peg style in the ‘40s and ‘50s is showing until 24th October 2010.

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