Kid in a Sweet Shop: Part Three

This Part Three of my amazing trip last week to help M sort out her collection of vintage clothing.


Actually, this post could be titled ‘Kid in a hat shop’. Amongst the treasures that M had saved for the 1950s and ’60s were a collection of hats. Most belonged to her mother and some came from Horrockses Fashions’ Mayfair headquarters where they were probably used in fashion shows and photo shoots. A hat (and gloves) were an essential part of a woman’s wardrobe in the 1950s – especially for an autumn/winter outfit. Here is a selection of Horrockses Fashions’ worn with fashionable hats.

From its establishment in 1946, Horrockses worked closely with milliners to produce hats that would enhance its fashion products. When it first presented its designs to the press and buyers the accompanying hats were supplied by Pissot and Pavey and shoes by the Hutton Shoes company and then by Joyce (all were made using Horrockses’ cotton). I have never seen a hat or shoes in Horrockses fabrics – do any survive?


Later it seems that the company used hats from a number of different milliners. Otto Lucas is well represented. Lucas was a German-born milliner based in London. He created hats for members of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers (IncSoc) and his clients included Greta Garbo and Wallis Simpson. He had his own salon on Bond Street and this 1958 British Pathé film Heady Stuff shows the workroom and the man himself creating a hat.

This is my favourite, a fine straw which is similar to the one in the fashion phot0graph which accompanies a Horrockses’ outfit.

Here are two more by Lucas:

We associate the cloche hat (right) with the 1920s – but they were popular in the fifties t00, although usually worn higher on the head. There are several in the collection.

Other hat brands and designers are represented – the black cloche above is by Peter Shepherd for Woollands and the blue petal design is by Bermona; there are many others, unfortunately, without labels. Would love to know who the pink and black one is by.

One designer who I am keen to research further is Graham Smith. Smith is a Royal College of Art Graduate (1958-9) and worked in the studio of IncSoc designer Michael of Carlos Place for seven years and later designed for Kangol. Three hats in the collection were made during his time there. Each has an beautiful sketch and a sample of fabric which presumably was used to indicate which outfit the hat would accompany.

This Horrockses Fashions’ publicity image is from 1960 – the hat on the right is straw with brightly coloured ribbon around the crown and was designed by Smith for his first collection after he returned to London from Lanvin-Castillo where he worked in the millinery studio.


There are shoes in M’s collection – not from Horrockses – but items she bought, including these, the glorious gold and silver boots which were worn after skiing!

And finally – the most interesting  hat (at least to me) is this very small beautifully constructed piece that belonged to M’s mother and she is seen here (on the left) wearing it in Jerusalem in 1939. The hat, off the head, appears as just a small flat piece of cloth – it’s almost like a piece of origami. There’s no label – but it reminiscent of Schiaparelli, or perhaps Charles James. (If anyone knows more – do let me know).

My final instalment will be dedicated to beachwear!

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2 Responses to Kid in a Sweet Shop: Part Three

  1. Fabulous and I would love to see Horrockses shoes and hats.


  2. Pingback: M’s Dresses at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery | Festival of Pattern

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