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Friday 16 April 2010

Get your Horrockses on

In my other life, when I'm not being a Domestic Slut (unbelievably it's not yet a full-time occupation), I'm fantastically lucky enough to work on books for the V&A. I've just finished a book on the wonderful Horrockses Fashions: a ready-to-wear clothing label that specialized in beautiful full-skirted cotton dresses. So now both lives shall meet because they book is too pretty for me to keep secret. The Horrockses glory years were in the 1940s and 50s and their trademark was the bold and bright, often floral, patterns on their dresses. Forget all the grey and black and neutrals we're so used to seeing on clothes today, Horrockses' prints were colourful and imaginative - designs shown in the book include weird and wonderful patterns such as lobsters shown amidst sweetcorn cobs or roses elegantly juxtaposed against pineapples. Once you see the original dresses you'll never want to go back to Topshop again.

I'll get another Horrockses fix when the frocks feature in an exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum, London this Summer but until then, and until a vintage Horrockses dress magically falls into my hands, I'm sating my urge with the new range at the V&A Shop. It's produced using original Horrockses designs from the archives of the V&A Museum.

Take this lovely yellow flower and grey stripe pattern. It was originally designed for Horrockses in 1953 by Pat Albeck to be used on one of their dresses but also gives a fresh feel to this apron. If Pat Albeck's name sounds familiar, it's because she's the mother-in-law of another Sluttery fave, Emma Bridgewater, for whom she's recently designed a new range of tea towels. £15 for the apron will give you the 1950s housewife look without having to sacrifice your twenty-first century ideals. For the look on the go, the design is also sold on tote bags.

Discard your kleenex travel pack and become a proper fifties-style lady with your own pretty hanky. This 100% cotton number uses a design by Joyce Badrocke, another Horrockses' employee of that period. It costs £3.50.

It's worth a visit to South Kensington to see this Daisy and Rose dress (it's only selling in store). Made from cotton with the trademark full-on skirt and fitted waist, it's based on a dress worn by a Mrs Elizabeth Payze as a teenager in the 50s, now in the V&A's collection. The book contains lots of stories of women like this, photographed happily on their holidays posing in their Horrockses' dresses. Come the Summer of 2010, I hope to do something very similar in this number. As it's £95, I'd need start saving for that sunny day but I can't wait to wear it with this sun hat before going off to eat lots of ice cream.


  1. Don't you just LOVE the V&A ?.
    The sun hat looks fabulous, v. Monte Carlo.
    One is in raptures over that delightful floral frock.
    All one needs is a hand span waist to go with it.

  2. Hello! I am a Horrockses obsessive also!!! I have 3 Horrockses dresses, and i am always trying to get my hands on more. ( I used to have 4 but i stupidly sold one as i am a silly poor student). Come and take a peek at them on my blog They are really amazing dresses to wear too, the weight of cotton is fantastic and you can still wash and iron them so they look totally crisp and new, definitely the best vintage brand that i have come across!


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