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The Fashion and Textile Museum have tapped into the zeitgeist again with a perfectly timed collection of chic 1940s and 1950s Mad Men style dresses from Horrockses Fashions.
Horrockses were known for their bright cotton print summer dresses which were widely available ready made, were easy to wear and effortlessly stylish. To keep the dresses at the cutting edge of fashion, Horrockses worked with lots of young designers and artists, including a young Terrance Conran who sold 20 designs to the firm in 1950.
The exhibition is absolutely stunning, every dress looks as fresh and modern as the day it was made. The dresses pay homage to Dior’s New Look, with full skirts and tiny waists, and the prints are all about having fun – giant roses, lobsters, dancing girls and even a dress featuring radishes and hard boiled eggs!
A Horrockses dress would have cost between £4 and £7, (£80 to £130 in today’s money) so they weren’t cheap, but they were the dresses everyone wanted, saved for or copied. The dresses gained even more prestige after they were worn by the Queen. Princess Margaret wore a Horrockses dress to feed a giraffe in Africa in 1956.
The exhibition includes buyers books with photos, samples and elegant fashion illustrations. (There were two collections each year, with 150-160 styles created from 70-80 prints).
If you have a vintage style summer dress in your wardrobe, I suggest you wear it when you see the exhibition. If you don’t have one, you’ll be desperate for one when you leave! The Fashion and Textile Museum is where the fashionable people will be this summer. Go! Go now!
Horrockses Fashions at the Fashion and Textile Museum. 9 July – 24 October. £6.50 adult, £3.50 concessions. Open Wed – Sun 11:00-18:00. www.ftmlondon.org