London before it swung: British ready-to-wear under the Model House Group and Fashion House Group 1946-1966
In 1946, James Laver stated, ‘Fashion has reached one of those turning points in history when everything may happen, just because anything may happen in the world’.It was into this turbulent setting that ten British wholesalers, the elite of ready-to-wear, formed the Model House Group in 1946.The mid-1960s are often recognised as the period in which London came to the forefront of fashion. Yet, as this dissertation will demonstrate, there was an established, innovative and thriving ready-to-wear industry in London between 1946 and 1966.
This dissertation will consider how the Model House Group and their successor the Fashion House Group (established 1958) helped to develop this strong industry. Here, their imaginative fashion presentation and promotional activities will be investigated. This dissertation will also establish how both Groups created a niche for themselves despite their garments often being adaptations of couture pieces.
The story of these two Groups is an international one and for both Groups exporting overseas was of vital importance. In 1959 The Fashion House Group established ‘London Fashion Week’. This bi-annual event utilised everything from dancing guardsman to pub-crawls to entice the desired overseas buyers; the column inches it received are testament to its success.
The activities of the Model House Group and Fashion House group ensured that by the mid-1960s British ready-to-wear had achieved a worldwide reputation for high-quality, reasonably priced fashion and their significance, as this dissertation demonstrates, is due for re-consideration.
 Howell, Georgina. In Vogue: Six Decades of Fashion. London: Allen Lane, 1975, p.167
School of Humanities
MA History of Design, 2014
- BA Fashion Design (IND), University of Leeds, 2012
- Assistant, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty [forthcoming exhibition], Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2013–2014; House assistant, Whitehall Museum and Honeywood Museum, Sutton Council, Sutton, Surrey, 2013–present; Volunteer, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2012–2013; Intern, Dress and Textiles Collection, Hampshire Museum Service, Winchester, Hampshire, 2010–2011
- Southern Counties Costume Society Bursary 2013
- 'The Model House Group 1946–58', Couture, fashion, and consumption: Britain/France, 1947–1957, IHTP- Paris, April 2014; 'London before it Swung: British fashion under the Model House Group and Fashion House Group', Association of Dress Historians new research day, Association of Dress Historians, November 2013; 'Horrockses from a collector's perspective', Death by Slideshow, RCA, November 2013
- Co-author, Style Me Vintage: Accessories, Pavilion, 2014