My passion for making clothes from the 1950s includes being a huge fan of Horrockses Fashion prints. So I was delighted to be invited to the launch of a new range using the prints by Joanie Clothing.
The launch at the Anthony Burgess International Foundation in Manchester was a wonderful afternoon of tea and cake and the odd gin! surrounded by the beautiful dresses, and the prints displayed in the bunting, wall coverings and tablecloths. I was lucky enough to meet Dr Christine Boydell whose book, “Horrockses Fashion: Off-the-peg style in the 40s and 50s”, graces my coffee table. So she was clearly the obvious choice to provide Joanie Clothing with historical context on their new release. Also without a doubt was the joy of meeting Margaret and Wendy who designed the fabric for Horrockses back in the day – wonderful ladies.
The ten-piece collection certainly does what it says on the tin – it’s taken inspiration from the time honoured iconic prints of yesteryear and teamed them with modern shapes, whilst honouring current concerns of how clothing is made/sourced.
This means that it forgoes the very longer length and masses of skirts that you would find in original pieces, in favour of more manageable pieces. This may not find favour with the die-hard Horrockses lovers amongst us, yet I am sure will appeal to a wider audience within our fashion loving group. One where people have a love of vintage styles and fabrics but need to be more practical as it’s harder to wear full circle or gathered skirts when trying to navigate the office or school room. I also think these pieces will appeal to people who love the 1950s styling but feel self-conscious wearing the historically fuller styles in the supermarket on a Saturday morning.
The collection covers a range of dress lengths, collars, sleeves and sleeveless to suit many different tastes. It’s sustainable and is made with organic cotton which has not been grown with pesticides – good news for both workers and customers. Some of the pieces also have elastane in them for a more fitted bodice. The patterns include prints from the archive like the Giraffe print and the Ditsy floral stripe from 1952, to those created by known designers like the monochrome by Louis Le Brocquy in 1955.
I was gifted the Vada Paolozzi print sundress by Joanie, which caught my eye because it’s very distinctive print was developed by Horrockses from a painting by Eduardo Paolozzi in 1953. Joanie fully understood I would give an honest appraisal. And I’m happy to say I was definitely not disappointed.
I loved it’s sleeveless fitted bodice, buttoned all the way down the front, with a gently gathered skirt, on sight as I know that’s a shape that flatters my figure. It, like all the range, is £55 which is a price tag that’s far lower than many of the other vintage reproduction brands. But I am so pleased to say that this has not meant Joanie has skimped on quality.
For starters the bodice is fully lined – on all the dresses as I made sure I had a peek down them all at the launch! Not only that – where it matters such as the Lilbet Ditsy floral or the Montana Gingham – the fabrics are pattern matched.
Having met Lucy, from Joanie, who works on the dresses, I couldn’t praise her enough as I saw that my dress even had a waist-stay button, which just made my heart sing. (On many older patterns they are fitted with waist stays which are like attached “belts” inside the dress to help the dress stay at waist level and not let its weight drag down.) And don’t get me started on the beautifully sewn in invisible zips! Let’s just say that whilst I regularly use invisible zips they are not for the fainthearted if you are pedantic about sewing them in without excess zip showing.
This dress came to just a smidge below knee level on me and yes I can confirm that I was still able to wear a petticoat very comfortably with it.
Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows I wouldn’t dream of wearing a dress or skirt without a petticoat and this beautiful dress looks fab with one under it to emphasis its shape and show off that pattern.
The sundress was easily accessorised with a perfectly matched hair snood by my favourite maker, Gin Poodle. It was also a great opportunity to wear my new black and white suede sandals from my beloved shoe company, Rocket Originals. The Edith’s, like all their shoes, are based on real shoes from the 1940s and 50s and therefore are a perfect choice. If it was a bit colder I’d throw on either a white bolero or a black one depending on the time of day.
Of course a few flowers, bangles, and a brooch are standard too – and let’s not forget that this dress also has pockets!!
With sizing the website describes it as true to size and tells you to pick your regular sizing. I would add that you need to remember what your “regular” size is depending on how you dress. For example I measure a size 12 in most of the items from my reproduction clothing favourites. However I have broad shoulders and also regularly wear foundation garments to help my clothes hang better – and a What Katie Did bra lifts and points my chest! That means my “regular” size in this dress is a 14 as it’s a fitted design, to avoid gapping between the breast buttons. As I belt my clothing this takes care of any excess around my waist.
If Horrockses & Joanie ever do release fabric by the metre that will certainly gladden the hearts of old school Horrockses fans. In the meantime this new collection with its modern shaping, has done well to revive interest in the prints and pretty dresses of yesteryear and I think will appeal to many.
This dress was gifted by Joanie Clothing with no expectations. All views are my own.
Horrockeses Fashion X Joanie – see the full collection