On Saturday I spent a fascinating fashion day at Snibston Costume Gallery at the Costume Society‘s Utility Fashion in Wartime Study Day. Philip Warren started the day by exploring the social, political and economic context of 1940’s Britain that led to clothes rationing being introduced in June 1941.
Jenny Lister of the V&A museum followed with a detailed review of the Board of Trade Utility collection, which tasked the Incorporated Society of Fashion Designers to produce stylish fashion in accordance with strict wartime restrictions.
Utility skirt suit 1942 Victor Stiebel
Utility suit & coat by Worth 1942
I gave a talk on the Make Do & Mend campaign through which Mrs Sew and Sew encouraged the mending and remodelling of pre war clothing: on hand were examples of a blouse made from salvaged parachute silk, a jigger jacket made from a baby’s blanket, a 1940’s party dress remodelled from a bias cut 1930s wedding dress and dyed and coats made from Victorian shawls.
Currently the interest in wartime crafts is so strong that the Mrs Sew and Sew leaflets have been reproduced in this cute book
A tour of the CC41 Utility Fashion in Wartime exhibition was followed by Professor Lou Taylor’s thought-provoking examination of Paris Couture during the war.
We were lucky to finish the day with two private collectors- Alisdair Peebles and Janet Godfrey of the Kent Costume Trust– sharing their collections with us. And re-enactors Sandra Gribben and Tracey Cork stole the show with their fabulous 1940’s ensembles.