For most of the first decade of the 20th century, fashion mainly showed seasonal modifications rather than any fundamental changes. However, as the century unfolded, the concept of the 'natural figure' banished the corseted and exaggerated S-shaped figure that was fashionable at the beginning of the decade. These innovations, a significant liberation for women, were accompanied by the introduction of strong and vibrant colours.
'Originality and Opulence': the House of Paquin
In 1890 Jeanne Paquin (1869 - 1936) and her husband Isidore Paquin opened their Maison de Couture Rue de la Paix in Paris, close to the celebrated House of Worth. Paquin soon became famous for introducing coloured lining to otherwise mournful looking black coats, and for adding embellishments of lace or rich embroidery to black dresses. The innovative yet subtle use of furs became one of the house's trademarks. In an age when fashion advertising was in still in its infancy, Jeanne Paquin was the first couturier to send mannequins to the trend-setting and trend-spotting races at Longchamp and Chantilly.
In 1900 Jeanne Paquin was elected president of the Fashion Section for the Universal Exhibition and, throughout her career, many of her creations participated to those international fairs. The originality and opulence of Paquin's designs soon bolstered the international reputation of the fashion house. One of her greatest achievements was the opening of foreign branches in Buenos Aires, Madrid and London - she was the first Parisian couturier to take this step and many followed her lead. She was the first woman in her field to be awarded the Légion d'Honneur in 1913.
At Jeanne Paquin's death in 1936, the house passed into the hands of the Spanish couturier Antonio Canovas del Castillo. Paquin bought the House of Worth in 1953 but closed its doors on 1 July 1956. The V&A has a magnificent collection of Paquin sketch books, ranging from 1897 to 1956.
Jeanne Paquin - fashion design
Jeanne Paquin (1869-1936), fashion design, Paris, 1900. Museum no. E.349-1957
This is a design for a day dress for the Summer collection of 1900. The Model is wearing a sun hat and holding a parasol as was the custom for fashionable ladies at that time. The dress has a high neck, and an elaborate front decoration. This matches the diamond patterns found alongside the bottom part of the dress and the top part of the long tight sleeves. This design is an example of the dominating popular S-Bend silhouette present in fashion designs up until around 1908. In order to achieve this shape, the hips were forced backwards by the tightly laced corset worn at the waist - as a counter effect the woman's bosom was pushed forwards creating what some referred to as the pouter pigeon effect.
Jeanne Paquin - fashion design
Jeanne Paquin (1869-1936), fashion design, Paris, 1902. Museum no. E.740-1957
The pencil inscription 'Fabiola' is found in the top right hand corner of the design, this could refer to either the dress name, model or customer the dress was designed for. This outfit was designed for the winter collection 1903. This design is an example of the dominating popular S-Bend silhouette present in fashion designs up until around 1908. In order to achieve this shape, the hips were forced backwards by the tightly laced corset worn at the waist - as a counter effect the woman's bosom was pushed forwards creating what some referred to as the pouter pigeon effect.
Jeanne Paquin - fashion design
Jeanne Paquin (1869-1936), fashion design, Paris, 1904. Museum no. E.885-1957
This design was created for the Summer collection of 1904. The figure is positioned so that we can see the back of the dress and on the left corner there is a quick sketch of the front details to give the viewer a fuller understanding of the design. The design shows a highly fashionable walking dress. The light, feminine colour and the elaborate use of lace trimmings and tiers emulate contemporary lingerie techniques, considered very luxurious and daring at the time.
Jeanne Paquin - fashion design
Jeanne Paquin (1869-1936), fashion design, Paris, 1906. Museum no. E.1371-1957
This evening dress design, entitled 'Matilda', was for the winter collection of 1906. Fashion illustrators were able to create a stylised and highly fashionable 'S' shape, as shown here, with the swish of a pencil, but real women had to struggle to emulate it with long, tight corsets. Padding was worn to add fullness to the bosom and was even worn under the hair to add volume and height.
Jeanne Paquin - fashion design
Jeanne Paquin (1869-1936), fashion design, Paris, 1910. Museum no. E.1963-1957
In 1910 the Ballets Russes performed at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. The bold, colorful costumes, exotic set designs and general atmosphere of the show acted as a catalyst for a craze for Orientalism that greately appealed to a fashionable clientele enamoured with the rare and unusual. This evening dress was designed in 1910 and clearly shows the influence of bold colours and embroidery, and the move away from the light colours and lace trim of the preceding years.
Jeanne Paquin - fashion design
Jeanne Paquin (1869–1936), fashion design, Paris, 1908. Museum no. E.1618-1957
There is a pencil inscription 'Reginella' on the right hand side of the model. This could refer to the name of the dress, model or have some relation to a particular customer. The bottle green design is enhanced by the elaborate lace work adorning the cuffs and shoulder area of the dress. This design was created for the Summer collection 1908. This design if compared to earlier ones by Paquin, seems to show a straighter and slimmer silhouette which was becoming increasingly fashionable towards the end of the decade. The new high-waisted and shorter-skirted designs introduced by Paul Poiret were a main cause for this change. During their life time Poiret and Paquin remained fierce competitors.
The 1910s were a period of dramatic change in fashion. Though many trends had their roots in fashions of the previous decade, the First World War cemented the move towards more practical, less restrictive clothing. As women were called into factories and offices, fashionable dress simplified and shortened.
Florrie Westwood (dates unknown) was a London designer active in the early part of the 20th century. Nothing much is known about her apart from her drawings, from which we can see that she produced elegant high-end, if conservative, fashions. Many hundreds of now-anonymous dressmakers and designers like her existed in towns and cities across the country until the middle of the 20th-century mass-market ready-to-wear clothing came to dominate fashion.
1) The three 'Original Designs' in the image from 1918 - 1919 are very typical of the late 1910s. They feature high waists and feminine materials and colours. They also anticipate the androgynous look of the 1920s with their linear, straight silhouettes. The designer's own descriptions of the dresses, written next to them are:
'Left: Dress of mauve taffeta and ninon, with insertion of ivory lace. The sash is of mauve ribbon to match the dress.
Centre: A simple evening frock of powder blue satin & shell pink tulle. The broad sash is pansy black ribbon with bright appliqué orange flowers.
Right: Frock of ivory crepe georgette, with two deep bands of peach coloured self material. The insertion is very fine lace.'
2) This fashion illustration portrays three afternoon dress designs drawn in pencil and colour wash. It is signed and dated by the artist. Such a collection of designs seen together demonstrate the increasing trend for women to abandon the restrictive corset. During the early years of the 1910s, designers started to promote the use of lighter and softer fabrics in order to make their creations increasingly free flowing. This new approach focussed on fluidity provided a contrast with the stiff and S-Bend silhouettes of the previous decades.
3) These four different designs for winter coats by Florrie Westwood are dated 15 January 1919. They emphasise the new fashion for the linear silhouette and ankle length designs. They also show the new shape (higher neck covering and greater shoulder coverage) of fur collars and cuffs.
The designs by Melanie Vermont (1897 - 1972) in the V&A collection were given to the museum by Mrs M. Goldflame, the niece of the artist. At that time, Mariano Fortuny (1871 - 1949), a Spanish designer based in Venice, invented a new special pleating process and new dyeing techniques for his dress designs. His innovative designs were inspirational to other designers, but also hugely successful as they gave women the freedom of movement they had been craving.
4) These two evening dress designs in pencil by Melanie Vermont in the image to the right are good examples of how, at that period of time, designers increasingly used flowing material which enabled them to create dresses with elaborate drapes, thereby moving away from the restrictive corsets fashionable in the previous decade. During the early years of the 1910s, designers started to promote the use of lighter and softer fabrics in order to make their creations increasingly free flowing. This new approach focussed on fluidity provided a contrast with the stiff and S-Bend silhouettes of the previous decades. The tunic in the right hand design is made out of pleated material.
5) This illustration shows five designs for girls costume in pencil and colour wash. In this decade, the emphasis for children's dress changed from the waist to the hip, and dresses and skirts also became shorter (above the knee) as shown in these designs. The central figure is wearing a green coloured day dress with a pleated skirt and an elaborate belt which matches her small collar and the sleeve cuff. Also shown are two coat designs. The second figure to the left is wearing a white and red chequer short coat with Alamo buttons whereas the further figure on the right is wearing a white and navy striped coat with sailor navy collar and matching cuffs.
Developments in fashion following the war were greatly influenced by the changing attitudes of women. Younger women were empowered by their wartime independence and deliberately flouted the style preferences of their mothers' generation for flounces, frills and lace. They cropped their hair and wore skirts to the knee, with simple, linear dresses that gave them a boyish silhouette.
London-born Norman Hartnell (1901 - 79) set up his fashion house in 1923 and soon became famous for his lavish and romantic evening and bridal gowns. Hartnell is credited with introducing the longer-length skirts that would mark the end of the flapper era and his designs were sought after by the sophisticated British 'elite'.
Very much a 'society' dressmaker, Hartnell is, however, perhaps best known for his long-standing association with the English Royal family. He designed the dress worn by Queen Elizabeth for her wedding to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947, as well as her coronation robes in 1953. In 1977, Hartnell was appointed KCVO, the first knighthood conferred for services to fashion.
6) Hartnell designed this dress with two materials in mind: the under dress is of solid material and is covered from shoulder to hem with chiffon. The dress has a boat neck line with tight sleeves up to the elbow where they fan out with 'scollop' edging. This matches the hem of the dress. Hartnell supplemented the design with a beaded belt with tassels, matched with a band of beads on the sleeves. The design also shows a large head band with sparkling embroidery. The simplicity and grace of this dress would have been perfect for the fashionable cocktail parties of the era.
Nothing much is known about Hilda Steward apart from her drawings, from which we can see that she produced elegant high-end fashions. Many hundreds of now-anonymous dressmakers and designers like her existed in towns and cities across the country until the middle of the 20th century, when mass-market ready-to-wear clothing came to dominate fashion.
7) This sleeveless evening dress was designed by Hilda Steward in 1920 appears to be made in satin with a short lace three layer overskirt hanging from the belt. The belt is slightly higher than the waist in the front and supports the overskirt only from the side to the back - leaving the front completely free.
The figure is wearing a bracelet above the elbow and a large head band typical of the 1920s to hold the new short fashionable hair cut. The designer's signature appears in the bottom right hand corner in the form of her two initials overlapped, including the date running alongside it in a vertical strip.
8) This is a design for an orange day dress with an overskirt made by two pleated panels. The figure is holding a fur wrap which looks like Sable; it matches some fur details on the dress including those on the hem. The large brim black hat has two Ostrich feathers.
The belt is to be held by a gold ornament. The designer's signature appears in the bottom right hand corner in the form of her two initials overlapped, including the date running alongside it in a vertical strip.
Victor Stiebel (1907 - 73) was born in South Africa in 1907 but settled in England in 1924. After working for three years at the House of Reville, he opened his own fashion house in 1932. A founding member of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers, Stiebel was appointed its Chairman in 1946. Stiebel was highly successful and his clientele included the leading actresses of the day, but also royalty and members of the aristocracy. He created the going-away outfit for Princess Margaret on her marriage to Lord Snowdon in 1960.
The designs by Victor Stiebel in the V&A collections cover the period from 1927 to 1935.
9) The face of the model in this drawing, with the heavily emphasised eyes, follows the tradition established by silent-screen star Theda Bara, who popularised the word 'vamp' (a contraction of vampire, which she played in one of her films) to mean a predatory female, whose heavily khol-encircled eyes were her most memorable feature.
The combination of hair and neckband throw emphasis onto the eyes and blood red lips. The bare left shoulder is balanced by the weight of the hair being also on the left, while the bare shoulder and leg, at once revealed and concealed by the fabric strips, hint at intention and concealed delights.
10) This is a Stiebel design for an evening gown in black and silver with an appliqué or embroidered snaked coiled round it from an uneven hem to bodice. It is striking and original in all its details. The inside of the dress is lined in green - this contrasts the black exterior.
The dress has a square neck line with large shoulder straps. The model is wearing a pearl chocker with matching earrings and bracelet. The short bob hair cut with a fringe was typical of this era. There is a slight sketch for a dress on the mount of this design.
Following the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, new, more down-to-earth attitudes forced on the world offered great scope for a new simplicity, as encapsulated by Coco Chanel (1883–1971). In Britain, fashion became more eclectic but also more feminine and graceful and, by 1930, the 'boyish' look had disappeared.
Since the mid 19th century, couturiers had dressed major theatrical stars. Victor Stiebel (1907 - 1976) had designed productions while at university, before working in dress design at the House of Reville. In 1932 he opened his own fashion house and was soon in demand to provide contemporary costumes for leading actresses. Mary Ellis, for whom this costume was designed, was a leading actress and singer, and to dress her in a prestigious musical written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II and produced by C B Cochran would have been an excellent advertisement for the young couturier. He designed all her dresses in the production and those for her co-star, Eve Lister, and all the modern clothes in the Zoo and rehearsal scenes; the remainder of the costumes came coming from the Cochran wardrobe and the costume firm of Morris Angel & Son.
11) The dress was the height of chic, with its huge pleated shoulders, bold bow, nipped in jacket and long skirt. The gauntlet gloves helped balance the wide shoulders, while the large bow drew attention to the face. Although the design is coloured pale orange, the notes indicate that it should be made in chartreuse green satin, contrasting with the skirt's dull fabric and the exotic fur of the gauntlet gloves. Such designs were meant to flatter the wearer rather than the wearer be subservient to the designer and the leading lady would have had approval and maybe even a choice in the couturier.
12) The flared lower skirt of this blue dress by Stiebel is an example of the new cut introduced in this decade. The cut is characterised by its simplicity and Stiebel introduced a collar with a bow and tall cuffs all designed with multi-coloured ribbon to break the monotony.
These details match the slim orange belt. There is an inscription in pencil reading: "I am enclosing bits of ribbon the type I should like for the collar and cuffs".
13) In the 1930s it became fashionable to wear 'house pyjamas' – trousers with large bottoms made in a soft material. This design by Victor Stiebel shows how this concept could be transformed for more formal occasions from house cocktails to cruise parties.
Similar designs were also created by the Surrealist designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Stiebel's halter neck, sleeveless top contrasts the large bottom trousers wonderfully. The design includes bright orange gloves, a brim hat and matching shoes.
Norman Hartnell: fashioning royalty
In 1935 Norman Hartnell received his first Royal commission and from that moment right up to his death in 1979 he continued to create original designs for the Royal family, important members of British society, as well as international figures. The V&A collections contain a great number of examples of Hartnell's pre-war designs reflecting his highly sophisticated, elegant, and unsurpassed use of material and embroidery. These two After Six dresses were designed for H.R.H Princess Elizabeth; both are extremely feminine and delicate.
14) This evening dress was designed for H.M. Queen Elizabeth. A pencil inscription 'Gala' at the bottom of the page suggests that it was designed for an important occasion. The dress is entirely covered with an array of coloured sequences and would have undoubtedly bedazzled fellow guests. The boat line neck is also trimmed with sequins; the sleeves are three-quarter in length and embroidered to the tip of the shoulder.
The back has a long detached trail also fully embroidered edged with blue and pink patterned sequins in the shape of pyramids. The Queen is depicted wearing a diamond tiara. This ensemble is further enriched by elaborate pearl necklace and matching earrings. Across the left shoulder the Queen is also shown wearing a royal sash - supported by a ruby and diamond jewel. This dress exemplifies Hartnell's skill in designing dresses with elaborate embroidery.
15) This design is a full-skirted tier dress with minute waist with tiered yoke forming puff short sleeves. The skirt is all threaded with light blue coloured ribbon which emphasises the different layers. The dress is worn with matching jewellery and gloves.
The second design in pink net has a pointed waist band which holds a full net skirt scattered with pale blue ribbon. The body has a small heart shaped decolté trimmed with the same blue ribbon and the sleeves are exaggerated short and puff. In addition there is a flower decoration on the left side of her neck.
16) This design for a formal evening dress was specially created for H.M. Queen Mary. The dress falls in a straight line with a slight trail at the back. The elongated v-neck line is trimmed with lace.
On top of the dress he created a loose jacket with sleeves trimmed with Mink fur and edged with lace. This luxurious ensemble is completed with a magnificent row of jewels at the neck and a sparkling tiara.
World War II had a profound effect on fashion and it became regulated and framed by government decrees. However, despite these strict regulations and the violent upheavals brought about by war, couture design, led by a talented group of dressmakers, flourished.
The New Look
'I designed clothes for flower-like women, with rounded shoulders, full feminine busts, and hand-span waists above enormous spreading skirts.'
It is with those words that Christian Dior (1905 - 57), described the impact of his first collection in the Spring of 1947. At the time, rationing was still in place and austere, military styles were worn. Dior introduced hourglass silhouettes and luxurious fabrics, softening previously boxy shoulder pads and cinching the waist for a pronounced feminine look. So popular was his first collection that it was dubbed 'the New Look' by the press and was instantly emulated by designers across the world.
17) This design by Marjorie Field depicts a woman wearing a tailored, printed suit and a large hat decorated with feathers on both sides. A double-row of buttons are sewn onto the waistline of the jacket giving an impression of a small waist. In her right hand, she holds an umbrella made out of the same material as the suit. Marjorie Field was a high-end London designer, who quickly adopted Dior's fashionable New Look silhouette into her designs.
18) Italian-born René Gruau (1909 - 2004) moved to Paris in 1924 and started his career as fashion illustrator in the most prestigious magazines, including L'Officiel and Marie Claire. His collaboration with Christian Dior started in 1947 and Gruau, who perfectly captured the essence of the New Look, soon became an acclaimed figure in the world of Haute Couture. This drawing was commissioned for the fashion magazine 'Femina' around 1949.
19) This is a design by Bernard Blossac (1917 - 2001). Blossac was a fashion illustrator, who regularly drew for Vogue, L'Officiel and Harper's Bazaar. This drawing depicts a black bolero with a floral pattern in the 'New Look' style.
The V&A has a substantial collection of high quality designs by Marjorie Field for the couture firm Field Rhoades. The provenance of these designs can be traced back to Gwen Mandley, an artist and friend of the designer. Field Rhoades was registered in the London street directories at 77, South Audley Street, London W1 for the years 1948–49; this corresponds to the date of the designs found in this collection. Marjorie Field also designed under the name, or for the firm, 'Matita'. Matita were a high-end ready-to-wear company who regularly advertised in Vogue during the 1940s.
Marjorie Field Fashion Design
This is a drawing depicting a woman wearing a navy and white faille evening dress, with the shoulders entirely naked. The back is also partially naked, and a prominent ribbon is tied. The designer made use of contrasting colours: the front of the skirt, the band and the lower part of the ribbon are navy, while the bodice, the back of the dress and the upper part of the ribbon are white. A brooch made of diamond and rubies, is fastened on the band. To the right, a smaller drawing shows the front of the dress. The dress was designed in London and was in a folder marked 'Marjorie Field Rhoades' and 'Matita'. The design was created using pencil and watercolour, the bodycolour is on paper.
Marjorie Field Fashion Design
This design for an evening dress is based on the previous sketch E.480-2005 by the same designer Marjorie Field. A band of material falls vertically from the waist, creating a scalloped bottom edge on the skirt. A smaller pencil sketch to the right shows the back of the dress. There is a slight difference from the other design in the front drape and the different colour binding around the neck and the lower hip.
Marjorie Field Fashion Design
This is a pencil drawing by Marjorie Field showing a woman in an evening dress with a red silk sample stapled to the page at the bottom right. A smaller pencil sketch to the right shows the back of the dress. The dress is a good example of the padded, square-shoulder look that was fashionable in this decade. The dress draws particular attention to the waist which is adorned by a lower hip sash knotted in the front and falling loose to the hem. Inscriptions on this design suggest that it was created for a 'Private Lives' collection.
Marjorie Field Fashion Design
This is a fashion design depicting a woman wearing a tailored jacket over a below knees-length skirt and a hat with a ribbon slotting through from the inside to the outside in front, and carrying a bamboo-handled handbag. Contrasting colours have been applied to the collar of the jacket and black lines have been drawn to describe darts and welt seams on the jacket.
Marjorie Field Fashion Design
This is a fashion design shows a woman wearing a Cossack cap made of sheepskin fleece. A smaller sketch to the right shows the crown of the cap with an oval-shaped cross band of stitching on it. There are marked inscriptions saying: 'Sheepskin fleece / Cossack cap / deep enough to / drape down on jersey / as shown.' 'Top of crown in / reverse or in coloured / suede, with / traditional / crossbands of / stitching.
Ursula Sternberg-Hertz was a well respected painter who exhibited extensively in Europe and the US. In the 1940s, she submitted a competition entry to the Ascher textile firm in London, who were renowned for working with fine artists to create patterns and designs for silk scarves and furniture fabric. She won 3rd prize but worked for the Ascher Studio for a year and for many years as a free-lance designer.
20) This painted sketch of a fashionably dressed female figure decorates the front board of Ursula Sternberg Hertz's folder of designs for textiles and dress, oiginally submitted to Ascher as part of an entry competition. This bold and colourful board demonstrates the importance the designer gave to overall presentation. The inscriptions are in watercolour and read 'Sender Ursula Sternberg-Hertz London 30 Ch. De Boitsfort Bruxelles and Ascer Wigmore Street London'. The folder is held together with a green velvet ribbon.
Often associated with the rise of youthful, ready-to-wear fashions, the fifties were nevertheless a prolific and successful decade for the fashion 'establishment' as embodied by couture houses and traditional dressmakers. Fashion illustration continued to flourish in the plethora of magazines published at the time.
Sigrid Hunt (later Roesen) was a fashion illustrator and editor. She came to England from Berlin in the early 1930s and worked for prestigious publications including Vogue, Tatler, and The Sketch. From the late 1950s to 1971 she worked in Germany for the Sudkurrier Welt der Frau and Die Mode.
The various preparatory phases shown for the Tatler front cover of 5 May 1954 here illustrated are a good example of the process and various stages of magazine illustration.
Jean Demarchy (dates unknown) was a 1950s fashion illustrator who worked in soft pastels to create romantic, abstract, images of couture. Arguably, illustrations such as these fitted better with the luxurious and feminine ideal of couture than photography. These illustrations, especially from the Stiebel collection of 1953, display some of those shared aesthetics in the way they convey the soft, tactile nature of the fabrics.
However, the privileged status of fashion drawing faded rapidly during the 1950s, and photography soon gained more prominence in post-war magazines that wanted harder-hitting imagery.
21) This image was drawn for Harper's Bazaar around 1955. It shows a glamorous evening dress by Christian Dior (1905–57), featuring a full skirt and elaborate bustle bow.
22) This illustration features an evening dress by the London couturier Victor Stiebel (1907-76), drawn for Harper's Bazaar in 1953. Stiebel liked using bold, contrasting stripes in his designs, and also typically referenced historical dress with voluminous panniers and bustles.
Before the late 1950s and 1960s, teenagers were expected to dress and behave very much as their parents. The 'Swinging Sixties', however, saw the emergence of a new youth market as teenagers rebelled against the aesthetics and values of their parents' generation and established their own trends in fashion and music.
Amongst other things, the mini-skirt was introduced, and couture was seen as very old-fashioned. London - not Paris - was leading fashion now, nurtured by the city's fashion schools and colleges, who were providing creative environments for crops of young, talented designers.
The daughter of Welsh school teachers, Mary Quant (born 1934) gained a diploma in Art Education from Goldsmith's College, London. There she met Alexander Plunket Green, who later became her business partner and husband. Apprenticed to a milliner, Quant began to make her own clothes. These were influenced by the Chelsea beatniks she knew and dance outfits she remembered from childhood lessons.
In 1955, at a time when 'fashion wasn't designed for young people', Quant opened Bazaar, a boutique on the King's Road. She devised eye-catching window displays to attract customers. Her clothes were made up of simple shapes combined with strong colours like scarlet, prune and green. Prices were low compared to those charged for haute couture.
Famed for popularising the mini skirt, in 1966 Quant was awarded an OBE. In the early 1960s her designs were bought by the chain store J.C. Penney to be mass produced for the American market. The Quant label began to appear worldwide on accessories and make-up.
23) This design has a liberty bodice, long narrow sleeves and a front vertical zip. The skirt is very short and trimmed on the edge with a yellow colour. The same colour tights are worn. There is a small baby collar and a very narrow belt with a front buckle. Mini skirts and dresses were a highly fashionable new trend in the late 1960s and continued for quite a while after this.
24) This bold design for a putty aubergine mini dress is made with a small liberty bodice with a full mini skirt attached to it. The top of the dress has a cow neck in yellow material inside and on the outside is beige with yellow.
There is a matching head scarf, belt and cuffs. Mini skirts and dresses were a highly fashionable new trend in the late 1960s and continued for quite a while after this.
25) In this design Mary Quant decided to ignore the waist and added a very short frill skirt attached to the body of the dress creating the 'mini' effect. The sleeves are very short and bounded by glace kid red leather. The main dress is made out of pink Jersey wool.
The collar and the front slit are all bounded by the same glace kid leather as the sleeves, the leather has brass eyelets to enable the threading of shoe lace type ribbon. Mini skirts and dresses were a highly fashionable new trend in the late 1960s and continued for quite a while after this.
The 1970s were a pioneering decade, and saw the evolution of fashion into a proclamation of individuality. Seen as the reflection of the taste of the wearer, one of the consequences of these sartorial changes, was that fashion increasingly, became the concern of men as well as women.
Ritva and Patrick Caulfield
The Ritva knitwear firm was set up by Mike and Ritva Ross in 1966, producing revolutionary machine-knitted womenswear in bold colours and slinky shapes. These were sold in some of the most fashionable department stores and King's Road boutiques, and from 1972, in the Ross's own shop.
A new direction in men's knitwear came in 1969 when Mike Ross designed a line of appliquéd 'Ritva Man's' sweaters inspired by baseball shirts (the V&A collection includes a prototype, Museum no. T.14-2000). Each sweater was unique, with its own colourway.
This led to the Artist Collections of 1971 and 1972, when Ross invited artist friends, including David Hockney and Elizabeth Frink, to design 'wearable works of art'.
Artist Patrick Caulfield's (1936-2005) 'Manly Sweater', with its appliquéd leather patches and 'trompe l'oeil' pipe, is an ironic version of traditional 1950s masculinity. The V&A has also acquired Caulfield's original drawings for the sweater and seen together these represent an unusual document of a collaboration between art and fashion.
This coloured pencil drawing on paper includes an element of collage. One smaller piece of paper with a single drawing is mounted on a larger piece of paper with further drawings. Drawings depict various versions of a pipe and breast pocket. One breast pocket drawing also depicts an image of a bird. Some annotations on black pencil, including the artist's name and title 'P C Manly sweater'.
A prolific and innovative designer, John Bates (b.1938) often incorporated metallic, plastic and transparent fabrics in his creations. He is perhaps best remembered as the designer of Diana Rigg's wardrobe for the television series The Avengers in 1965.
26) This 1978 dress in silk is an interesting design with square shoulders and blouson body and an intricate cut full skirt. There is a tie belt around the waist and the sleeves have flare cuffs similar to the high collar.
27) This 1974 design is for a long printed Kaftan with an undulated bottom. The sides are finished with tassels. The print is particularly beautiful and individual you can see the detail of stylised flowers and birds. This is complemented by edge stitching around the Kaftan. The exotic element to this design makes it particularly striking.
A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Zandra Rhodes (b.1940) became famous for her prints on chiffon, and her use of flamboyant, bright colours. Her designs were considered too extravagant by British manufacturers and she set up her own retail outlet on Fulham Road, London, in 1969. Rhodes' extravagant appearance and style often attracted considerable publicity. She is credited with having introduced Punk fashions to the fashion industry with her 1977 collection entitled Punk Chic.
Bill Gibb (1943–88) was a fashion designer whose creations defined the 1970s look. He opened his boutique Alice Paul in Kensington in 1967 and first designed for the youth market, with clean lines that bore the imprint of contemporary trends. In the 1970s, his style developed along eclectic and romantic lines inspired by the hippie scene and by medieval and pre-Raphaelite painting.
28) This is a fashion design for a long pleated skirt, long-sleeved blouse, laced jerkin and cloche hat, with two fabric samples attached. This design featured in Vogue in 1970, and the Sunday Times amongst other magazines. This design shows how different wool fabrics are used with contrast colour and pattern.
29) Jacket design with beret.
30) This is a design for a printed leather and suede pattern jacket with a hood. The Patterns seem influenced by ethnic designs. Other designs in the later 70s started to use a mixture of different fabrics and colour, for example leather with chiffon) This design is a good example of how leather was processed in a more fashionable and colourful way during this period.
The increasing profile of women in the work place required a new fashion aesthetic, and the decade witnessed the emergence of 'Power Dressing'. Wide, padded shoulders became fashionable and women's clothes were inspired by masculine fashion and tailoring traditions. The period also saw the display of lavish evening wear, as exemplified by the opulent dresses of Oscar de la Renta.
Oleg Cassini (1913–2006) was a prominent American fashion designer who famously dressed Jackie Kennedy, during her years in the White House. Cassini also had a lucrative ready-to-wear and licensing business with a wide range of branded accessories and cosmetics.
Bill Gibb (1943–88) was a fashion designer whose creations defined the 1970s look. He opened his boutique Alice Paul in Kensington in 1967 and first designed for the youth market, with clean lines that bore the imprint of contemporary trends. In the 1970s, his style developed along eclectic and romantic lines inspired by the hippie scene and by medieval and pre-Raphaelite painting. His romantic aesthetic was less successful during the 1980s and he presented his last full collection in 1985.
The drawing below right shows a design for the pop star Lynsey de Paul, for her performance at the Royal Variety Show, 1986. It is executed in colour wash, black ink and felt tip pen. By this time, Gibb's business was failing and this design may be one of his last.
Antoni & Alison
The London based fashion design duo, Antoni & Alison, are Antoni Burakowski and Alison Roberts. They met in 1982 when studying fashion at St Martin's college. They are known for their eclectic and playful designs, including ranges of slogan and vacuum packed T-shirts.
Manolo Blahnik (b. 1942) is one of the most prominent and successful shoe designers of his age. His creations were famously immortalised in episodes of Sex and the City, and his name is now synonymous with luxurious and exquisitely designed shoes. He was awarded an honorary title of Commander of the British Empire in the Queen's 2007 Birthday Honours List, for services to the British fashion industry.
These designs are for ladies shoes, for possible production by Zapata Shoes Ltd, London, 1980.