London Couture and the Making of a Fashion Centre
320 pp., 6 x 9 in, 61 b&w illus.
- Published: April 12, 2022
- Publisher: The MIT Press
How design collaboration, networks, and narratives contributed to the establishment of a recognized English couture industry in the 1930s and 1940s.
In the 1930s and 1940s, English fashion houses, spurred by economic and wartime crises, put London on the map as a major fashion city. In this book, Michelle Jones examines the creation of a London-based couture industry during these years, exploring how designer collaboration and the construction of specific networks and narratives supported and shaped the English fashion economy. Haute couture—the practice of creative made-to-measure womenswear—was widely regarded as inherently French. Jones shows how an English version emerged during a period of economic turbulence, when a group of designers banded together in a collective effort to shift power within the international fashion system.
Jones considers the establishment of this form of English design practice, analyzing the commercial, social, and political factors that shaped the professional identity of the London couturiers. She focuses on collaborative activity that supported this form of elite, craft-based fashion production—from the prewar efforts of the Fashion Group of Great Britain to the wartime establishment of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers, modeled loosely after French fashion's governing body, the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. It was these collective efforts by couturiers that established and sustained London's place as an internationally recognized center for creative fashion.
“This fascinating account of London's couture industry shows us that Paris was not the only city to define itself by its commitment to fashion.”
Penny Sparke, Professor of Design History, Kingston University, London; and author of An Introduction to Design and Culture: 1900 to the Present
“Framed by the Second World War and post-war reconstruction, and focusing on London, this book offers a fascinating and persuasive account of the shifting geographies of high fashion. Beautifully written and illustrated, it provides an exemplary study of how fashion contributes to wider design and visual cultures in a specific time and place.”
Cheryl Buckley, Professor Emerita of Fashion and Design History, University of Brighton, UK; coauthor of Fashion and Everyday Life: London and New York (with Hazel Clark)