50 Years of Fashion

It is fifty years since Chertsey Museum first opened its doors in 1965. In order to celebrate this important anniversary, we are delighted to present a display of fashionable women’s wear dating from the 1960s to the present day. The pieces shown in this gallery are selected from the nationally significant Olive Matthews collection of dress, which is held here at Chertsey Museum.

The past fifty years has been a period of unprecedented cultural and technological change. Breakthroughs in space exploration, global communication and travel have all taken place, as well as scientific discoveries, not least relating to the manufacture of new synthetic materials. At the same time, living standards have improved for the majority of people in the western world, and greater freedoms have led to enhanced social equality for many. Fashion has kept pace with society; morphing and mutating in new and often unpredictable ways. The very nature of fashion itself has changed. The mini skirt of the 1960s was perhaps the last ‘universal’ fashion, and the subsequent rise of individualism has fundamentally altered the way that fashion works within society. Now personal choice reigns as a plethora of different styles emerge concurrently and increasingly swiftly, allowing us to select looks according to our own personal circumstances and those of our peer groups.

In the whirl of beautiful and eye-catching styles displayed here a number of themes can be traced. The exhibition is set out chronologically which helps us to understand how fashion progressed. However, when we look back it is easy to fall into the trap of remembering the styles of the past fifty years in terms of the fashions that characterised each decade. When closely considering the looks which emerged over the period, it is clear that they do not fall into such neat categories. The styles of the early 1960s were far more in keeping with those of the late 1950s and the same can be said of each successive period; established and, with hindsight, ‘typical’ fashions only emerged during the middle years of any given decade.

Though it is fun to look back at the trends which were adopted during each successive era, a number of other fascinating themes can also be traced. The growing importance of the younger generation within society as a whole is clearly in evidence. This can be seen in the styles from the mid 1960s onwards which celebrate a youthful body above all things - a quality which has been afforded enormous value by the fashion industry ever since. It is also possible to chart the emancipation of women as they emerged from their tight-waisted and often cumbersome early ‘60s clothes into garments which allowed for more practical participation within society. As well as the adoption of clothing which allowed greater freedom of movement, a conscious shift into the ‘male’ sphere of office work is particularly evident in the ‘power dressing’ of the 1980s. No less fascinating are the more subtle developments that can be linked to fashion trends. For example, the economic downturns of the 1970s and late ‘80s to early ‘90s periods are characterised by nostalgia with historically-inspired clothing as the fashion world sought to retreat into the romance and relative safety of the past. By contrast, economic upturns saw designers pushing boundaries; experimenting with new and forward-thinking concepts as well as indulging in lavish materials. Other social developments such as the greater affordability of overseas travel are also reflected in garments which incorporate exotic and far-flung influences.

In addition to charting different visual links between particular garments, it is hoped that this exhibition will allow visitors to immerse themselves in the fashions of the past fifty years through a range of alternative methods of interpretation. Our dressing up area features replicas and garments inspired by those on display, whilst fashion-related film clips will inform and jog memories. Evocative perfumes from each era are also captured in the coloured scarves found in the reading area. Everyone who views this exhibition will come to it with their own set of recollections and experiences of fashionable styles. We hope that you will take time to reflect on the similarities and differences between these garments and your own personal preferences through the years. A comment book in which you can write down your reactions to the display, including any memories it may have sparked, is located nearby.

Glancing over one’s shoulder

The 1960s was an incredibly important and exciting decade for fashion. It was an era of strong, youth-driven style trends which have remained in the collective consciousness as iconic looks ever since. However, to focus only on garments such as the mini skirt would be to ignore the way most people dressed during the early years of the decade. Apart from a pioneering few, the majority of the population dressed in a way that owed much more to the style of the 1950s.

Fashions which celebrated the overtly feminine, mature figure still held sway. The Post-war designs of a handful of couturiers continued to dominate fashion throughout the 1950s and well into the early ‘60s. These included Christian Dior, who initiated the ‘New Look’ of 1947 (his legacy continued after his untimely death in 1957), and Cristobal Balenciaga, a master at blending cut, construction, fabric and colour. Their tightly boned bodices and wide flowing skirts captured women’s imaginations after the privations of war, and their influence prevailed for many years. Though teenage styles were emerging, for formal occasions young women were still expected to aspire to the style of their mothers. This included the wearing of hats and gloves when in public.  

There are several garments displayed in this case which epitomise the look of the early 1960s. Change was afoot with subtle innovations, as seen in the more columnar line of the Hardy Amies gown of eau de nil silk, or the shorter skirts of the boldly printed day dresses, but at this stage no-one could have predicted the radical developments ahead. The apricot brocade ball gown of 1961, with its wide, flowing skirts and tight bodice, was worn by a very young woman. It shows how evening wear, though simplified, remained lavish and romantic. And, just as in the 1950s, many women would still have reached for strong foundation garments, such as the pink corset seen nearby, to help them achieve this soon-to-be-outmoded silhouette.

The ‘60s in full swing

By the mid-1960s a new and distinct fashionable style had developed. It celebrated a youthful, almost childlike body with bold colours, modern fabrics, sharp, simple lines and often very short skirts.

The fashion revolution which gained momentum after the first few years of the 1960s is defined by a switch from the influence of the older generation to a youthful one. The phenomenon was dubbed ‘Youthquake’ by American Vogue in 1965. A number of subcultures, such as the Teddy Boys and the Mods, had emerged during the ‘50s and early ‘60s. Alongside music, clothing was a hugely important factor in how these groups defined themselves, and aspects of their looks filtered into mainstream youth consciousness. In addition, children who had been born in the ‘Baby Boom’ just after the Second World War were now old enough to earn in a newly buoyant economy. They often spent disposable income on clothing.  

Designers able to cater to the needs of a younger generation who yearned for change were also emerging at this time. Often the products of forward-thinking fashion and textile departments in art schools; innovators such as Mary Quant, Foale and Tuffin and John Bates began to design for their own peers. Their garments were sold in small boutiques, many located on London’s King’s Road or Carnaby Street. Soon larger department stores were stocking and copying these new designs. Youthful fashions made by young trendsetters, who in turn were influenced by London street style, were coming to the fore.

On the broader fashion stage, a new group of high-end designers was also blazing a trail. The work of André Courrèges, Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne was futuristic in style. They developed memorable and ground-breaking designs, some of which shook the very foundations of the fashion establishment. But the remarkable styles of the 1960s originated not from the rarefied ateliers of the couturier, but from the kids on the street.

Flower Power to Power Dressing

During the late 1960s fashion altered radically once more with the emergence of the Hippie movement which originated in America, and quickly spread to Britain. Hippies sought to reject set fashion trends which they saw as corporate and dictated from above. Instead they favoured unisex styles and drew inspiration from nature and the garments of ethnic cultures. Individuality was the key. The ‘flower power’ sentiment also led to a great interest in vintage clothing, spawning a preference for soft, romantic, flowing skirts. Despite their best efforts, however, the Hippie movement had simply generated another fashion trend which manufacturers and designers were quick to pick up on.

As the Hippie era faded, their legacy of individualism remained. Fashion became optional, and a range of youth and music led trends emerged. These included the outrageously high platform shoes and bright colour combinations of Glam Rock. By the mid ‘70s Punks were manipulating sexual and political taboos in shocking and radical statements of anarchic display. The late 1970s Disco craze was influential in sexualising fashion with skin tight clothing in shiny fabrics for nightclub wear. In more everyday clothing the second half of the decade saw a new sober mood with skirts slightly below the knee and a much more general adoption of trousers for women - a reflection of the strength of the Women’s Rights Movement.

The scene was set for the excesses of the 1980s. For day, wide-shouldered, masculine ‘Power Suits’ with angular lines dominated, whilst eveningwear celebrated all things opulent and extravagant. The cult of the ‘designer label’ took hold as fashion houses such as Armani and Lacroix were marketed as worldwide brands. The work of Japanese designers such as Rei Kawakubo for Comme Des Garçons, Kansai Yamamoto and Issey Miyake also came to the fore. Dual elements of traditional Japanese dress and radically deconstructed cut offered refreshingly unconventional alternatives to mainstream fashion and continued to find success well into the next decade.

Global crashes and worldwide trends

The stock market crash of 1987 brought the world back down to earth with a bump. It marked the end of extravagance and by the early 1990s the fashion industry was suffering a crisis of confidence and struggling to react to the new somber mood. Black was the dominant colour during the late 1980s, only to be succeeded by grey in the ‘90s. Grunge, a look that originated with the youth culture of Seattle, was embraced by designers like Anna Sui and Marc Jacobs. Loose, layered clothing such as checked shirts, long dresses and oversized jumpers were worn with heavy Dr. Martin boots. Grunge did not sit easily with the world of high fashion, and consumers were not happy to pay high prices for it. The fashion industry soon returned to more feminine, fitted clothes.

The mid 1990s saw designers like John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood plundering the archives and creating striking collections inspired by historical costume. Westwood designed beautifully cut and characteristically humorous garments, mainly inspired by the 18th century. Alexander McQueen launched his first commercial collection in 1993. Often shocking and dramatic in their presentation, his collections were the result of clear vision and sound design. He was appointed creative director of the House of Givenchy in 1997 and also designed under his own label. His work continued to challenge and excite the fashion world until his death in 2010. The work of other British designers such as Stella McCartney and Matthew Williamson has also been extremely influential. The 21st Century has seen style trends move increasingly swiftly. The availability of fashion for all, with incredibly cheap garments from retailers such as Primark and New Look, has characterized the era. Growth in the worldwide luxury goods market has helped to bolster established fashion houses through the recession which began in 2008. The internet now disseminates fashion brands to a massive worldwide audience, and the cult of celebrity has seen a number of spin-off labels such as Victoria Beckham’s ‘The Collection’. In addition, vintage and vintage-inspired clothes have captured our imagination as never before. 

Exhibition Catalogue

Multi-coloured day dress, c.1958 - 1960

The fitted waist and colourful fabric of this sleeveless day dress are typical of summer dresses of the late ‘50s to early ‘60s. Full skirts were common, but this one differs in cut. Known as a ‘Bubble Skirt’, it puffs out and is then gathered into a band at knee level. The bodice is lined with green rayon and the skirt is supported and stiffened with Vilene interfacing. 

Ball gown from D.H. Evans, 1960 - 1961

This ankle-length ball gown is of apricot and white Rayon brocade. A naturalistic pattern of roses is woven into the fabric. The softly pleated bodice is lined with white cotton and the generously cut skirt is unlined. The wide skirts are supported with a replica net petticoat as the original is no longer present. This gown was purchased at D.H. Evans department store, Oxford Street. Founded in 1879, D.H. Evans was eventually taken over in 1954 by department store group House of Fraser and continued to trade under the D.H. Evans name until 1987 when it was re-named House of Fraser. The original store on Oxford Street is now the House of Fraser flagship store. This ball gown was worn to a May Ball in 1961 at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. The original owner remembered wearing it in a punt on the river Cam.

Evening gown by Hardy Amies, c.1964

Made from eau de nil shantung silk, this dress is cut with a shallow round neckline at the front and a ‘V’ shape at the back.  The bodice is beaded in an undulating pattern with diamanté and clear glass beads. Plastic sequins are stitched to make three-dimensional flower shapes. Plainer panels of silk curve around the sides and meet at the centre front with a bow. The long, softly gathered skirt  incorporates a stiffened white rayon underskirt mounted onto white silk organza. The label reads ‘Hardy Amies, 14 Savile Row, W1’. Hardy Amies (1909 - 2003) is known for the pieces he created for Queen Elizabeth II’s wardrobe, for whom he designed between 1952 and 1989. He began his career at the houses of Lachasse and Worth before opening his own business at 14 Savile Row in West London in 1946. 

Suit by Louis Féraud, 1965 - 1968

Sold by Harrods, this pink polyester suit comprises a dress and jacket. The dress is sleeveless with a fitted bodice and A-line skirt. It features decorative buttons of pink plastic with gilt metal centres. The short, fitted jacket is simply cut with minimal detailing. The style of the suit is similar to that favoured by Jacqueline Kennedy whose immaculate dress sense was much admired. Louis Féraud (1921-1999) presented his first Haute Couture collections in 1958. During the early ‘60s he hired a number of other talented designers, including Jean Louis Scherrer, and later produced ready-to-wear collections which were sold through high-end retailers. The company is now owned by the German group Escada. There is a shop in Paris and the Féraud label continues to be sold through Harrods.

Black and white spotted day dress, 1960

This summer dress is made from nylon chiffon printed with a bold black spot pattern. The acetate lining has also been printed with black spots which overlap with those on the chiffon creating an interesting blurred effect. The wide skirt and black nylon crêpe of the waistband serve to draw the eye to the centre and accentuate the narrow waist - a look which owed much to the ‘New Look’ of the late 1940s to ‘50s.

Blue hat, 1960 - 1965

This hat would have been worn tilted towards the back of the head. It is constructed on a base of nylon net and the textured appearance has been achieved by gathering lengths of imitation silk ribbon and stitching them in spirals. The effect is that of a pom-pom dahlia.

Maroon felt hat, 1960 - 1963

Cut into a tulip-like shape, the flat top of this hat is slightly reminiscent of a Turkish Fez. It is made from velour felt and trimmed with pink grosgrain ribbon. During the early 1960s hats were still worn when women were in public. They remained in place indoors and out, but the fashion for ‘beehive’ hairstyles led to hats being phased out for everyday wear, never to return in such a general way again.

Mini dress by André Courrèges, 1967 - 1969

Shown with a modern ribbed sweater, the matt black wool jersey of this striking mini dress contrasts well with its leatherette trim. André Courrèges (b.1923) brought a ground breaking new ‘60s look to Parisian couture. He began his career at the fashion house of

Balenciaga and then started his own label in 1961. In 1964 he stunned the fashion world with a totally modern collection. He was known for the ‘A’ line shape of his mini dresses and also for immaculately cut trouser suits. He was inspired by sportswear and the ultra-modernity of space exploration.

Bag by André Courrèges, c.1972

It is made from black patent leather with a long synthetic patent leather shoulder strap. The instantly recognizable Courrèges insignia is cut away at the front of the bag to reveal the white leather applied beneath.

Corset by Preslei, c.1961 - 1965

It is made from peach coloured nylon with lace and nylon net trim. There is an elasticated panel at the centre back and it is also boned. The front is cut low for wear with an evening gown. In order to achieve the narrow-waisted look that was still in vogue during the early 1960s, it was common for women of all ages to wear corsets or other foundation garments, especially with eveningwear.

Evening shoes by Clarks, 1956 - 1964

With typically pointed toes, they are made from silver polyester brocade. The uppers are cut out and edged with silver leather. The modest stiletto heels are also covered with silver leather. By this date stiletto heels were reinforced with steel rods to prevent them from snapping. Shoes with much longer pointed toes, known as ‘Winklepickers’, were favoured by younger followers of fashion at this time.

Pair of gloves, 1965 - 1966

A pair of ladies white nylon gloves with a diagonal row of three leatherette diamonds along the hand back. Inside the wrist there is a vertical arched notch bound with black nylon edging that extends around the whole of the cuff edge. Gloves were still worn as fashion accessories during the mid 1960s, and these are similar to the short, white gloves made popular by André Courrèges.

Evening shoes, Harrods, c.1967

Covered with gold lamé fabric, these court shoes have wide, low heels. The glittering gold effect would have lent both opulence and a futuristic feel to an outfit. Their relative simplicity in design is in keeping with the uncluttered lines of mid 1960s fashions. These shoes were originally worn with a full-length evening gown to a 21st birthday party in December 1967.

Underwear set by Mary Quant, 1967 - 1973

A sheer nylon bra and knickers set in turquoise blue with tiny spots. Mary Quant (b.1934) was one of the originators of the pared down and youth-orientated styles which dominated fashion during the 1960s. She opened her first boutique: Bazaar on King’s Road, London in 1955 and her business went from strength to strength through the 1960s and ‘70s. Quant is often credited with inventing the mini skirt (she herself stated

that the girls on the street invented it first). Shorter skirts led to both brevity and youthfulness in underwear fashions as girdles and suspender belts would have been visible. Tights were now worn and underwear grew smaller and smaller as the youthful physique, which required little extra support, became the ideal. Mary Quant designed underwear which went with her clothes. They often had humorous names such as the ‘Booby Trap’ bra or ‘Highly Strung’ bra and briefs.

Gown by Ossie Clark for Quorum, c.1974

This diaphanous full-length silk chiffon gown, with slightly padded silk satin epaulettes and plunging neckline, features Celia Birtwell’s ‘Marie Antoinette’ print design. The cut is reminiscent of 1940s Hollywood glamour. Ossie Clark (1942 - 1996) first found success when his pieces were stocked by Alice Pollock’s Quorum boutique in London’s King’s Road. He later went on to produce a diffusion line for Radley. During his 1965 - 1974 heyday Clark’s incredibly flattering, beautifully cut clothes were worn by many London socialites, making them highly desirable and fashionable. Alongside Bill Gibb, his work popularised the flowing, vintage-style fashions of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Ossie was inspired by garments from the V&A’s collections and worked closely with his then wife, the textile designer Celia Birtwell, whose colourful and imaginative prints featured in many of his designs. 

Hot pants suit, 1971

Made from synthetic satin, this suit has a wide collar and is fastened with plastic heart-shaped buttons. Bearing the label ‘Shetype, London’, it appears to be very similar in style to a design by Lee Bender’s Bus Stop label. Hot pants were a short-lived fashion of the early 1970s. Their glamorous fabrics lifted shorts out of the utilitarian category and into the fashion arena.

Evening gown by Jean Varon, 1971 - 1974

This diaphanous evening gown is made from nylon chiffon, through which can be glimpsed a synthetic rose-pink lining. The wide sleeves and lack of a waist seam lend the dress a relaxed feel. John Bates (b.1938), launched the label Jean Varon in 1960. He was known for his futuristic work during the mid ‘60s, but pieces became more soft and feminine during the later ‘60s and early ‘70s. Bates famously designed for the hit TV series The Avengers during 1965 - 1966.

Skirt and blouse set, c.1972

It is made from synthetic black crêpe and the long A-line skirt features two side splits. These and the hem are bound with yellow braid. Two ties at the neck fasten to form a large yellow bow at the centre front, helping to balance the length of the skirt and keep the ensemble beautifully in proportion.

Gown by Annie Gough, 1970 - 1974

This full-length evening dress of fine wool has a bold print which is slightly reminiscent of Indian textile designs - a sign that mainstream fashion was drawing inspiration from ethnic hippie-style dress. Green quilted velvet has been added to give weight and structure. Scottish designer Annie Gough began designing clothing in 1967. She wanted to produce ‘elegant, flattering and feminine’ clothes. Her work utilised natural fabrics and retailed for high prices in exclusive boutiques.

Knitwear ensemble, Bill Gibb, c.1982

This three-piece ensemble features geometric patterns in soft heather mauves and browns. Made from acrylic, it is typical of the complex knitwear produced by Gibb and his long-term collaborator Kaffe Fassett. Bill Gibb (1943 - 1988), was a Scottish-born designer who has long been held in high esteem by the fashion cognoscenti. Between 1969 and 1985 he produced a number of ground-breaking and influential collections. Gibb was adept at combining different prints, fabrics, colours and textures and creating a coherent whole. He worked with American -born artist Kaffe Fassett to produce beautiful knitwear pieces. This ensemble dates from the early 1980s when Gibb and Fassett worked with the Leicestershire firm Annette Carol to produce ready-to-wear items in acrylic using a jacquard weave technique.

Kindly lent by Kerry Agar-Hynd.

Gown by Jean-Louis Scherrer, c.1985

It is made from pink and green shot silk taffeta with a shirred and ruched bodice. The enormous sleeves are constructed from stiff net and decorated with petals of pink and green silk organza. The large bow at the back extends to form a short train. Jean-Louis Scherrer (1935 - 2013) began his fashion career working for Christian Dior. He then continued under Dior’s successor, Yves Saint Laurent, before being employed by Louis Féraud. He launched his own label in 1962, numbering several celebrities amongst his clients. During the 1980s his work was known for its opulence and luxury. His extremely expensive couture designs were popular with a wealthy Middle Eastern clientele. Sadly the first Gulf War led to a decrease in this market. Scherrer was forced to relinquish control of his company and, in 1992, was controversially fired from his own label.

Boots by Chelsea Cobbler, c.1970 - 1975

Made from brown leather, they feature a simple top-stitched double triangle motif. Chelsea Cobbler opened in Draycott Avenue, Chelsea in 1967. They produced high-quality hand-finished boots and shoes and continued to find success throughout the 1970s, opening branches elsewhere in London. Their footwear was also stocked by department stores such as Harrods. The early 1970s saw a fashion for boots of this style, which were worn with knee-length and maxi skirts.

Platform mules by Sacha, c.1974 - 1975

They are made from leather which has been stamped with a floral design. Though some could be as high as 6 or 7 inches, these are a mere 5 inches off the ground. Platform soles were a mainstream fashion of the mid 1970s. They were popularised by glam rock stars such as David Bowie and Elton John.

Suede Boots by Bruno Magli, 1975 - 1980

With their narrow, pointed heels, angled tops and toes tapering to a rounded point, these ankle boots mark the end of the era of the platform. They herald the start of a more sophisticated aesthetic in fashion which took hold during the second half of the 1970s and into the early ‘80s. Bruno Magli is a high-end Italian shoe brand which continues to trade today.

Court shoes by Miss Holmes, c.1984

They have woven navy and white check leather front quarters and a low stiletto heel. The shape, similar to that of the early 1960s, represents a return to lighter, more feminine shoes after the heavier styles favoured during the 1970s. ‘Miss Holmes’ was a brand marketed by Edwards and Holmes, shoe manufacturer of Norwich - a town with a rich history of shoe production. The company was taken over by Van Dal Shoes in 1987 after financial difficulties.

Suit by Thierry Mugler, 1985 - 1987

An example of a mid-1980s ‘Power Suit’, it consists of a wool and polyester mix jacket and black wool skirt. The oversized jacket has wide, padded shoulders and a narrow waist. Top stitching and welt seams draw attention to its armour-like structure and the sleeves are cut in the raglan style. The simple nature of the pencil-skirt serves to further emphasise the boldness of the jacket. Thierry Mugler (b.1948), is known for his highly structured clothes. He opened his first boutique in Paris in 1978 and found great success during the 1980s and ‘90s. He was one of the first designers to explore the idea of ‘Power Dressing’. Suits such as this one were associated with career women who were entering the male-dominated world of business. The style played with the ideas of power, androgyny and sexuality in an era of conspicuous consumption.

Dress by Yohji Yamamoto, c.1983 - 1986

It is made from black voile (a very fine wool fabric sometimes known as ‘nun’s veiling’) and silk damask woven with an oriental-style pattern. The sleeves are loosely held together with faggotting stitches in grey thread. The oversized and draped style of this dress is typical of Yamamoto’s work. Yohji Yamamoto

(b.1943), is known for his exceptional skill as a cutter. He established his own studio in Tokyo in 1972, but made his name in Paris in the 1980s alongside other Japanese designers such as Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. His layered, loosely cut garments are designed to swathe the body and often feature asymmetrical lines. He is known for working in black, and experiments with unusual textile forms; often combining different materials as seen in this piece.

Dress by Issey Miyake, 2009

This effortlessly classic ‘Pleats Please’ dress is made from polyester. It has been cut and stitched in a size three times larger than the finished piece before being passed through a heated press in order to produce permanent pleats. Issey Miyake (b.1938), launched his famous ‘Pleats Please’ range in 1993. Echoing Classical Greek garments and the ‘Delphos’ gowns of Mariano Fortuny, the style sheathes the body in neatly structured, yet fluidly organic lines.

Shoes by Red or Dead, 1996 - 1997

They are of gun metal grey coated leather and have high ‘Louis’ style heels. The Red or Dead label was started in 1982 by Wayne Hemmingway (b.1961). The firm became a familiar name on high streets during the 1990s, and was known for producing garments that were both highly fashionable and quirky.

Sweater by John Smedley, c.1998

Of yellow merino wool, it is printed with bull dogs and features a small plastic Wedgwood style cameo which has been stitched to the centre front. A further small bulldog print is found at the back of the neck. This piece was designed by Scott Henshall (b.1975) for the John Smedley knitwear firm (established 1784) and was sold at Liberty’s department store, London.

Corset by Vivienne Westwood, 1991

Designed as part of the 1991 ‘Dressing Up’ collection, this corset is made from stretchy imitation leather.

Vivienne Westwood (b.1941) found fame designing punk fashions with Malcolm McLaren in the 1970s. by the mid 1980s her own label was well established. Her beautifully tailored, often humorous pieces are frequently inspired by historic dress. This 18th century style corset shape appeared in her 1987 ‘Harris Tweed’ collection and she returned to it throughout the 1990s.

Shoes by Emma Hope, 2003

They are of pink velvet with metal tape and beaded decoration. The sling-back style, low ‘Louis’ heel and long, pointed toes are typical of shoe fashions of the early 2000s.

Shoe designer Emma Hope (b.1967) studied at Cordwainer’s College, East London. She worked for Betty Jackson and Jean Muir before opening her own shops selling exquisitely decorative and delicately feminine shoes.


Gown by Alexander McQueen, 2007

This darkly striking evening gown is reminiscent of more extreme versions of similar styles found in McQueen’s 2001 Voss and 2005 It’s Only a Game collections. The back is cut daringly low and sharp godets extend from the bugle-beaded bodice; contrasting with the softly layered ballet-style silk tulle skirt.

Suit by Alexander McQueen, 2009

Made from silk satin, this suit was part of McQueen’s 2009 Natural Dis-tinction, Un-Natural Selection collection. The structured jacket and pleated short skirt feature a kaleidoscopic digital print of tree bark. The juxtaposition of natural materials and digital imagery fit with the theme of the collection which explored the concept of man’s impact on the environment. McQueen (1969 - 2010) also used digital prints extensively in his 2010 Plato’s Atlantis show and they are frequently imitated in high-street fashion.

Images by John Chase Photography