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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Exhibition Review: Horrockses Fashions at the Fashion and Textile Museum

The Fashion and Textile Museum celebrates cotton manufacturers Horrockses and their collaborations with artists in the 1940s to create desirable 'off the peg dresses'

Written by Sally Mumby-Croft

Illustration by Paolo Caravello

A few weeks ago, order I ventured by bike to the Fashion and Textile museum’s summer exhibition celebrating the ready-to wear designs of Horrockses Fashions Limited. It is an intriguing exhibition, capsule documenting the complete development (from fabric to design to promotion and consumption) of a clothing company, which was most successful in the years between 1940 – 1950.

Illustration by Stephanie Thieullent

Any viewer of Mad Men (or Louis Vuitton AW 2010 fan) will instantly recognise the fuller skirts and nipped in waist designs of the 1950′s dress, so often worn by the show’s archetypal housewife Betty Draper. Upon entering I was struck by the beautifully laid out exhibition, in which the company’s progression from cotton manufacturer into a ready to wear label is easily digestible.

The focus on the exhibition lies in Horrockses beautiful textile collaborations with artists and designers, such as Betty Newmarch, Martha Pirn, Alastair Morton and John Tullisto.

Illustration by Jo Cheung

To create demand (and limit the chances you would come across someone wearing the same frock) Horrockses limited the supply of each dress. Where would Fashion be, without desire and a sense of unattainability?

Illustration by Alia Gargum

Upstairs, the exhibition documents the company’s foray into housecoats, (Stylish enough to wear when you invite your friends round for tea or to wear at your leisure in the home) evening dresses and sadly it’s slow demise as designers jumped ship and fashion radically changed with the approach of the 1960′s.

Illustration by Kellie Black

The exhibition closes on October 24th, why not nip down this weekend and check out an intriguing moment when a British Manufacturer decided to promote their product, not with advertising, but through the creation of their own Fashion house.

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