1950s Fashion: Horrockses & The Royal Tour

Thursday 14 April / 6–8pm


With Christine Boydell

Royal fashion evolved in the 1950s with the world’s media attention focused firmly on the new young Queen Elizabeth II. In this colourful talk, Christine Boydell tells the story of the UK’s most fashionable ready-to-wear label, Horrockses, and how the business grew with royal support.

Horrockses Fashions Limited was the manufacturer of one of the most well-respected ready-to-wear labels after the Second World War. Best known for their full-skirted dresses, the company received huge publicity when HM The Queen chose to wear their designs on the Royal Tour of 1953-4. Dr Christine Boydell outlines how the company grew during the difficult post-war years, and why their dresses were sought after by women everywhere, including royalty.

*Originally established in 1791 as a cotton factory in Preston by founder John Horrocks, it was not until 1946 that ‘Horrockses’ launched its own fashion line. Designed with the company’s cotton cloth, and made up at its new factory, Ivy Mill at Pin Hill Brow in Manchester, the firm’s production expanded rapidly, from glamorous evening dresses, to vibrant summer frocks and sophisticated housecoats and beachwear. Although producing garments in considerable quantity, the firm maintained an air of exclusivity for the brand, with an emphasis on good quality fabrics with custom-designed patterns and fashion styling with Parisian couture overtones.

Dr Boydell discusses the significance of having HM The Queen as a customer in the 1950s, the importance of fabric design, the royal warrant, and recent efforts to revive the brand.

Christine Boydell is a design historian and curator. Her exhibitions at the Fashion and Textile Museum include Horrockses Fashion: Off the Peg Style in the ’40s and ’50s and Riviera Style: Resort and Swimwear Since 1900. She is the author of Horrockses Fashions (Victoria & Albert Museum) and both the book and exhibition received such a popular response that they played a pivotal role in the resurgence of the brand this century.

The event starts at 6pm with a glass of wine in the Museum foyer and opportunity to view the exhibition Art Textiles: Marian Clayden; the talk follows at 6.15pm for 6.20pm in the Fashion Studio and lasts for approximately one hour including the chance to ask questions at the end. It is followed by a book signing. Ticket includes admission to ART TEXTILES exhibition and guests are welcome to view the exhibition before or after the event.

Price £15 / £12 students includes a complimentary drink and exhibition entry.

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