Acquired from the estate of costume designer Shirley Russell
The John Bright Collection owns a number of garments produced by the Footprints Studio. The studio was founded in 1925 in West London to produce and sell block printed textiles in a fresh and modern idiom. One of their female designers, Joyce Clissold, took over the business in 1929, becoming its guiding light, and continuing to work on a smaller scale until her death in the early 1980s. Unlike some textile design studios that employed women working in their own homes in a freelance capacity and were paid less than men, the female orientated Footprints took on young women and not only trained them in all the steps of production, but also provided a sense of community and companionship. From 1933 until 1940 the company’s ready-made garments, soft furnishings and fabrics were sold in their London shops, and a bespoke service of design and fabric choice was also available to their customers.
Two Footprints garments, the short jacket seen as a Related Item and the blouse seen here, are good examples of the studio’s use of different fabrics to add a further dimension to the printed design. The jacket is printed in subdued shades of brick red, slate blue and fawn with squares and rectangles of semi and non naturalistic motifs that appear visually ‘scrambled’ by the heavy texture of the weave. However, in some places the horizontal slubs add to the design; they form ripples on the blue areas of water where fish can be seen swimming, for example.
A different approach has been taken with the blouse. Beige fabric already woven with stylised flower heads, stalks and grasses in metallic thread forms the ground to scattered flowers and leaves printed in green and orange with dull purple. In common with the Footprints coats in our collection, the strongly coloured design is focused on the lower two-thirds of the body and sleeves leaving the pale upper area of the garment lightly printed or unprinted.