Book Review: Horrockses

There is a particular dress in my costume collection that has always intrigued me. There is something about the way the fabric falls, how the print meshes perfectly with the cut, and how this simple cotton dress from the 1950s still looks like you could step right into it and feel perfectly stylish. After reading Horrockses Fashions, I know why. Horrockses dresses, mostly designed between 1946 to 1958, are of lovely quality and, not surprisingly, have been cherished by their original owners and collectors alike. The company showed its first clothing collection in 1946, based on the strategy of providing ready to wear clothing with an exclusive “up-market” allure. The signature look for the line was influenced heavily by Dior’s Corolle line in 1947: soft shoulders, nipped-in waist, and full skirt.

Christine Boydell, the author of this book, is a force to be reckoned with. She curated the Horrockses dress exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her work is meticulously researched, obviously a labour of love, as she passionately demonstrates how the company achieved their goal of creating an air of exclusivity combined with high quality, and how devoted their clients were to these special dresses. (There is a terrific interview with the author at the Fashion and Textile Museum of London in front of the Horrockses exhibit that she curated, which allows those of us who missed the exhibit to sneak a peek.)
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