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Dress fabric

Dress fabric

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1956 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ascher Ltd (retailer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plain weave shot organza

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Zika Ascher

  • Museum number:

    T.194 to H-1988

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Shot silk organza was a luxury fabric suitable for evening wear. When Zika Ascher launched this silk in his collection in 1956 it was instantly in demand for couture evening and cocktail wear. He made 34 colourways, each with a different colour of warp and weft, so that from a distance the fabric looked a single colour, but in motion it shimmered with a second colour.

Zika Ascher, an innovative textile manufacturer, based himself in London after the annexation of his home country Czechoslovakia in 1939. After the Second World War, Ascher Ltd designed different ranges of textiles for use at the top end of the fashion market, working with natural fibres such as wool and mohair, silk, cotton and linen, and also in man-made fibres such as rayon and nylon. Some of his greatest innovations lay in combining man-made and natural. He was also innovative in commissioning designs from artists as well as textile designers of the highest calibre.

Physical description

Dress fabric sample of shot organza. Two slightly different shades of yellow; one selvedge and three pinked edges. Where the edges are cut, pinking shears have created a zig-zag edge which will not fray. The weave is plain. When laid flat the sample look as if it was made of only one colour, the front a different colour from the back. However, in motion or draped, the two colours become apparent in a subtle way.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1956 (made)


Ascher Ltd (retailer)

Materials and Techniques

Plain weave shot organza


Width: 23.25 in, Length: 17.25 in

Object history note

One of nine samples of shot organza in different colours and sizes, some with one selvedge, others with none T.194 to H-1988.

Historical context note

This fabric is called 'shot satin organza' in Mendes' text and in newspaper reports of the period. It may be that this was the name given by Ascher to promote the textile as 'different' or it may have been coined by the press. It is not a description that corresponds to the actual fabric which has a shot effect and is constructed using a plain, not a satin, weave. For a shot effect a plain weave and a different colour of warp and weft are necessary. The plain interlacing mixes the colours evenly, so that from a distance the overall effect is of a single colour. When the fabric is moved the colour seems to vary because of the different direction of the warp and weft. When lustrous coloured yarns are used, a shimmering variable effect is seen which constitutes a 'shot' appearance.

Organza is generally defined as a plain weave, for example, 'a light-weight, plain weave, sheer fabric made originally from fine silk yarns but now also made in man-made synthetic fibre yarns. It has a crisp handle and drapes well. Made in plain colours and in printed styles, for dress use.' (E. Miller. Textiles. Properties and Behaviour in clothing Use. London: Batsford, 1989 pp. 187-8.)

Descriptive line

Dress fabric sample of shot organza, retailed by Ascher Ltd., Great Britain, 1956

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Mendes, Valerie. Ascher. Fabric, Art, Fashion. London: V&A Publications, 1987, pp.109-110; 172-3.

Production Note

Attribution note: Ascher made yardage for a fairly exclusive market, couture and high class ready-to-wear.




Plain weave


Textiles; Clothing; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type

Mass produced


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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