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Dress

1953 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Horrockses’ cotton dresses, with their brightly coloured prints and full gathered skirts, were a fashion success story in the period after the Second World War. Horrockses was a large cotton manufacturing firm, founded in Preston, Lancashire, in 1791, known for weaving high quality household cottons. In 1946 they launched Horrockses Fashions Limited, a subsidiary company making ready-to-wear dresses, housecoats and beachwear, with headquarters in London's Hanover Square. The success of the firm was due to the quality of the design of the printed cottons, often commissioned from artists, combined with advanced production methods, which preserved the crispness of the cotton while allowing for frequent washing.

Dresses from Horrockses Fashions appealed to women of different ages and social backgrounds as the perfect summer dress. They were relatively expensive and were popular with members of the Royal Family - but working women would save up to buy one, often as a honeymoon outfit. This example was worn by Elizabeth Payze as a teenager.

Object details

Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Printed cotton
Brief description
Sleeveless day dress of printed cotton, Horrockses Fashions, Great Britain, 1953
Physical description
Sleeveless summer day dress of cotton with a fitted bodice and full skirt, and with large side pockets. Grey cotton with printed flowers in pink and white.
Dimensions
  • Waist circumference: 34cm (Note: When measured flat)
  • Shoulder to waist length: 43cm (Note: When measured flat )
  • Waist to hem length: 79cm (Note: When measured flat )
  • Shoulder to hem length: 121cm (Note: When measured flat )
Style
Production typeReady to wear
Marks and inscriptions
'Horrockses Fashion' (Label)
Gallery label
[This text introduces a pattern taken from this dress in order to download from The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957 microsite] Horrockses Fashion The traditional focus of couture was the creation of high fashion garments for private clients. However, sales to department stores and wholesalers became increasingly important after the war. Some designers created ready-to-wear collections specifically for the export market, using the mass-production and sizing methods developed in the USA, and the sale of home dressmaking 'couture' patterns in Vogue and other magazines made the couturier's ideas available to a wide audience and proved to be both lucrative and popular. Ready-to-wear dresses such as this from Horrockses Fashions combined the fashionable couture silhouette with youthful and innovative textile designs, and would have appealed to women of different ages and social backgrounds as the perfect summer dress. These dresses were relatively expensive and were popular with members of the Royal Family - but working women would save up to buy one, often as a honeymoon outfit.(August 2007)
Credit line
Given by Mrs A.C. Rivière
Object history
This dress has the full skirt typical of the 1950s, and is a good example of how the ready-to-wear market utilised couture silhouettes for the mass market.
Subject depicted
Summary
Horrockses’ cotton dresses, with their brightly coloured prints and full gathered skirts, were a fashion success story in the period after the Second World War. Horrockses was a large cotton manufacturing firm, founded in Preston, Lancashire, in 1791, known for weaving high quality household cottons. In 1946 they launched Horrockses Fashions Limited, a subsidiary company making ready-to-wear dresses, housecoats and beachwear, with headquarters in London's Hanover Square. The success of the firm was due to the quality of the design of the printed cottons, often commissioned from artists, combined with advanced production methods, which preserved the crispness of the cotton while allowing for frequent washing.

Dresses from Horrockses Fashions appealed to women of different ages and social backgrounds as the perfect summer dress. They were relatively expensive and were popular with members of the Royal Family - but working women would save up to buy one, often as a honeymoon outfit. This example was worn by Elizabeth Payze as a teenager.
Bibliographic reference
Christine Boydell, Horrockses Fashions. Off-the-Peg Style in the '40s and '50s (London: V&A Publishing, 2001), p. 15, pl. vi.
Collection
Accession number
T.640-1996

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Record createdAugust 6, 2007
Record URL
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