Resurgence of once forgotten fashion house
A Horrockses Fashions' dress was the must-have purchase for the post-war fashionable woman. In 2010, DMU design historian Dr Christine Boydell| brought the story of this very British brand to a whole new audience, leading to a resurgence in popularity and inspiring designers as they put together fresh collections.
Dr Boydell’s expertise shed light on an area of fashion which is not often the subject of academic research. Where others have focused on the world of high fashion and couture clothing, the stories of ready-to-wear fashions bought and worn by ordinary people have rarely been told.
Her resulting monograph involved interviews with people who had never spoken about their work with Horrockses before, and led to the discovery of new material.
Dr Boydell’s work placed the company in its historical context, examining how its fashionable, brightly patterned cotton dresses shaped and reflected society in the 1940s and 1950s. Her curated exhibition drew thousands to London’s Fashion and Textile Museum for a hugely successful run, and it went on to be toured around the country.
Dresses from the 1940s and 50s
Dr Boydell’s scholarly approach was widely praised.
It followed the story of the Horrockses dress from initial fabric and fashion design, to production, promotion, and consumption.
Perhaps most rewarding however, was the resurgence of interest in
the bright, bold prints used by Horrockses. Memorabilia based on designs were produced and sold, and prints were turned into bed linen.
It also inspired fashion forecasters
in the UK on the lookout for the next big trends. The following season saw Stella McCartney, Prada and Monsoon use big Fifties prints in their collections – a remarkable impact for a once-forgotten fabric fashion house.