On My Shelves: Horrockses Fashions: Off-the-Peg Style in the '40s and '50s

From the first collection in 1946, Marny Tickle's design features a silhouette of Great Britain surrounded by lines from Shakespeare.

From the first collection in 1946, Marny Tickle's design features a silhouette of Great Britain surrounded by lines from Shakespeare.

Alastair Morton's signature Sketchy Flowers, 1952.

Alastair Morton's signature Sketchy Flowers, 1952.

From the 1947 collection, Alastair Morton's design graces the hardcover edition. 

From the 1947 collection, Alastair Morton's design graces the hardcover edition. 

I love surface pattern design of the era bracketed by post-WWII to the mid 1960s. Whether for fashion or interiors, the designs tend to be bold, and sometimes even a little quirky to our sensibilities. A major influence during this time was the Festival of Britain, 1951. Horrockeses Fashions launched in 1946, so is placed squarely in the era I so admire. As I am also an anglophile, maybe it's a little surprising that I hadn't clocked onto the iconic British brand until recently.  This lovely book from V&A Publishing is great fun for connoisseurs of both post-WWII fashion, and surface pattern. Wasp waists and crinolines abound, all fabricated in Horrockeses Fashions' unique textiles, which came to set trends in the industry.

From the beginning, textile design was intended as an important factor in Horrockses Fashions' success. While they purchased a majority of designs from outside studios, they also hired in-house designers. I was not familiar with names like Marny Tickle, Alastair Morton and Joyce Badrocke.

 Pat Albeck maybe a more familiar name. (She continued to design almost right up until her recent death.) She worked in-house at Horrockses Fashions from 1953 to 1958. She designed some of their often-imitated bayadere (floral stripe) designs. But more importantly - and unusually for the industry, Pat collaborated closely with Horrockses Fashions clothing designers with specific garments in mind. This collaboration produced some unexpected results, like lobsters accompanied by flowers and butterflies. The sheer quirkiness of pineapples and roses in combination makes me smile! 

With it's combination of retro fashion and fabulous surface pattern designs, this book is a worthy addition to any surface pattern design library. 

Eduardo Paolozzi abstract design, 1953. (He also designed the murals in my favorite London Tube station, Tottenham Court Road. Who knew!)

Eduardo Paolozzi abstract design, 1953. (He also designed the murals in my favorite London Tube station, Tottenham Court Road. Who knew!)

Joyce Badrocke's Inkspot design.

Joyce Badrocke's Inkspot design.

Bayadere (floral stripes) were an ongoing theme for Horrockses Fashion and were often imitated by competitors. This particular example was designed by Pat Albeck. Vogue, 1954.

Bayadere (floral stripes) were an ongoing theme for Horrockses Fashion and were often imitated by competitors. This particular example was designed by Pat Albeck. Vogue, 1954.

In 1953 John Tullis asked Pat Albeck to produce a fabric with a large scale lobster for a beach skirt. She felt it did not work on it's own, so added flowers and butterflies. 

In 1953 John Tullis asked Pat Albeck to produce a fabric with a large scale lobster for a beach skirt. She felt it did not work on it's own, so added flowers and butterflies.