Acquired from the estate of costume designer Shirley Russell
The loose, tubular body of this dress has been made from one length of crepe de chine, probably originating from Macclesfield, the centre of British silk production, expertly block printed with a deep border design. It has been seamed down the left side only, a right hand seam having been simulated with an internal tuck. Its long sleeves, collar and cuffs have a simpler, but related, border print of multi-coloured rectangles within a black grid.
In common with many contemporary garments, construction takes second place to a striking fabric, influenced in this example by the avant-garde art movements of the preceding decade. Its unsettling design of bright discordant colours, harsh black lines, and jagged diagonal shapes that seem to burst forth and fight one another, owes its greatest debt to the Italian Futurists, founded in 1909, and the British Vorticists, founded in 1914, who sought to express the movement, energy and aggression of the modern, urban machine age through fractured images, shifting perspectives and visual disorientation. (See Wyndham Lewis, Workshop, c. 1914-15, Tate Gallery, London https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/lewis-workshop-t01931)