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 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 (Field Rhoades), fashion design, London, 1940s. Museum no. E.425-2005
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 (Field Rhoades), fashion design, London, 1940s. Museum no. E.483-2005
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 (Field Rhoades), fashion design, London, 1940s. Museum no. E.480-2005
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 (Field Rhoades), fashion design, London, 1940s. Museum no. E.419-2005
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 (Field Rhoades), fashion design, London, 1940s. Museum no. E.430-2005
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.