Label ‘Horrockses Fashions’
This outfit, and the dresses in Related Items, were made by the firm Horrockses Fashions, which was founded in 1946 by the long-established cotton manufacturers Horrockses, Crewdson & Co of Preston, Lancashire. The company aimed to raise the status of cotton garments which before the Second World War had, on the whole, been considered functional and inexpensive. Targeting a middle-class market, Horrockses employed top-quality freelance and in house designers for both its fabrics and garments, and sought to establish itself as a brand name recognisable for quality and modern stylishness.
Its success in this respect was marked by the choice of Horrockses dresses by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family for tours of warm Commonwealth countries. These models were then available to the public, prefiguring the present day interest in the clothes of younger female royalty. Other loyal, but less elevated, customers kept and cherished their Horrockses dresses, especially those associated with memorable occasions.
This versatile outfit, to be worn on the beach and on other informal summer occasions, comprises a blouse and skirt, a tie belt, and a short sundress with plain pink pants (See Additional Images). The fabric was designed by Pat Albeck who worked for Horrockses firstly as a student at the Royal College of Art, and then as a permanent staff designer from 1953 to the late 1950s. Albeck has brought a freshness to the broad horizontal bands of flowers that were staple patterns of summer dresses and skirts at the time, and these bands have been cleverly used in vertical panels to provide a denser appearance to the sundress bodice.
Although Horrockses garments fell within a middle class budget they were not cheap, and being prized by their wearers were sometimes adapted to prolong their lifespan. This blouse and skirt appear to have originally been a one piece dress, fabric taken from a shortened hem providing a waistband for the skirt.