For many years I have admired photos of Horrockses’ brand frocks.
Their ads from the 1950’s and 1960’s look terribly chic and feature haughty looking models in some of the most beautiful gowns that I have ever seen.
In my ignorance, I had thought that Horrockses was an American firm….I’m not sure why, maybe it was the name… it was only recently that I discovered they were in fact a British firm.
Imagine my delight when I discovered Horrockses Fashions:Off-the-Peg Style in the 40’s and 50’s by Christine Boydell;
So I thought I’d do a little article on the book and give you a snippet of Horrockses history.
The book chronicles the firms origins and its transition from a household cotton goods manufacturer into a fashion house. (I think I can speak for all vintage girls in saying that we love anything to do with that era). It shows how the firm established a niche for itself in the British marketplace, navigating tricky business relationships with boutiques and department stores.
Horrockses was originally a fine cotton fabric merchant that was renowned for its high quality household linens and it didn’t branch off into its own garment production until after World War 2.
In 1946 they debuted their first collection of ready to wear cotton dresses. They used both in house designers and commissioned top European artists to produce exclusive designs for their limited edition ranges.
I personally swoon over their floral patterned dresses that were made with two different versions of the one print- the bodice normally had a smaller, daintier version of the print that was used on the bottom- this effect is very charming and feminine.
As the years passed Horrockses produced some African and Tribal style prints in bold, contrasting colours and they also began incorporating wool jersey, silks, taffeta and synthetics into their range.
Over time they developed exquisite evening/formal collections which incorporated their trademark floral patterns…although these were generally larger prints on silk and taffeta.
The photo below is my favourite Horrockses dress of all time.
What is lovely about this book is that Christine has traced people who bought and wore these frocks and has included their photos and stories…so personal!
The book shares photos of Horrockses staff on outings to the country, on overseas holidays and even a few of their weddings…in Horrockses made gowns of course!
I have only given you a sneak peek of the beautiful dresses in the book…I don’t want to spoil it for you…this book is a must read for anyone interested in 1940 through 1950’s fashion. The photos are beautiful, the dresses divine and the stories that accompany them are charming, I would recommend it to you, one and all.
Princess Pin Curls