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Skirt suit - Original no. 16
  • Original no. 16
    Morton, Digby, born 1906 - died 1983
  • Enlarge image

Original no. 16

  • Object:

    Skirt suit

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    autumn 1942 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Morton, Digby, born 1906 - died 1983 (designer)
    Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers (producer (collection))
    Utility (designed for)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Grey herringbone wool, fastened with metal buttons, trimmed with a grosgrain bow

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Board of Trade

  • Museum number:

    T.45 to B-1942

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The buttons on this tailored ensemble bear a wartime message. They are stamped with the Utility symbol CC41, which stands for Civilian Clothing and 1941. The Utility Scheme was introduced in 1941 to ensure that consumer goods were produced to the highest possible standards at 'reasonable' prices. These standards complied with restrictions and rationing of raw materials. Utility clothes were usually identified by a distinctive double crescent CC41 (Civilian Clothing) label. Reginald Schipp designed the symbol. He was asked to disguise the 'CC' so that the public would not recognise the letters as such. This stylised motif became known as 'the cheeses' and was also printed on to clothing labels.

The Board of Trade commissioned the design for this jacket, skirt and blouse from the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers. It was one of 32 stylish yet economical outfits intended for general production. In October 1942 Vogue magazine published the following description of the collection: 'All the designs are, of course, within the New Austerity specifications: only so many buttons, this much cuff and that much skirt...but they are an object lesson in the power of pure style over mere elegance'.

Although the designers of individual pieces were not publicised, this suit has Digby Morton's initials inked on a paper tag. The label also identified it as 'No 16 Original DM 92/10' with a maximum price tag of just under £5.00. There is a Morton label inside the blouse, making it one of only two Utility prototype garments labelled by the original designer. The other piece is a Bianca Mosca blouse.

Physical description

Grey herringbone wool jacket, skirt and blouse. The buttons featured on this tailored Utility ensemble, commissioned by the Board of Trade, bear a wartime message: CC41 (Civilian Clothing 1941).

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

autumn 1942 (designed)

Artist/maker

Morton, Digby, born 1906 - died 1983 (designer)
Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers (producer (collection))
Utility (designed for)

Materials and Techniques

Grey herringbone wool, fastened with metal buttons, trimmed with a grosgrain bow

Marks and inscriptions

Digby Morton's initials and 'Original no. 16'
writing; ink

'No 16 Original DM 92/10'
label

MORTON/ 63 Grosvenor St/ London W1
Label, blouse left side seam. Black on white.

Object history note

In 1942 the President of the Board of Trade gave the prototype Utility clothes, designed by designer members of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers, to the V&A. Although the designers of individual pieces were not publicised, this suit had Digby Morton's initials inked on a dress tag, which also identified it as 'Original no. 16'.

Descriptive line

Grey herringbone wool suit, designed by Digby Morton, English, autumn 1942

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

de la Haye, Amy, ed. The Cutting Edge: 50 Years of British Fashion, 1947-1997. V&A Publications, London, 1997, pp. 38-40.

Labels and date

In 1942 the President of the Board of Trade gave the prototype Utility clothes, designed by designer members of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers, to the V&A. Although the designers of individual pieces were not publicized, this suit had Digby Morton's initials inked on a dress tag, which also identified it as "Original no. 16". The cut is stylish, but pared down to conserve materials. Interest is created by utilizing the herringbone stripes vertically and horizontally, by the patriotic CC41 (Civilian Clothing 1941) metal buttons and the perky ribbon bow. [1997]

Production Note

Although the designers of individual Utility pieces were not publicised, this suit had Digby Morton's initials inked on a dress tag, which also identified it as 'Original no. 16'. The blouse has a Digby Morton label in the side seam

Attribution note: Prototype Utility clothes were designed by designer members of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers. The jacket has a cut that is stylish but pared down to conserve materials. Interest is created by utilising the herringbone stripes vertically and horizontally, the patriotic CC41 (Civilian Clothing 1941) metal buttons and the perky ribbon bow.
Reason For Production: Commission

Materials

Wool (textile); Grosgrain

Techniques

Sewing

Categories

Fashion; Clothing; Day wear

Production Type

Prototype

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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