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Designing Britain 1945 - 1975 > Fabrics Forming Society > Research Base > Keywords
 
Artist


KEYWORDS


From the immediate post-war period through to the 1960s, painters and sculptors made an enormous contribution to textile design. Well-known names, such as Humphrey Spender, Henry Moore, John Piper and Roger Nicholson, used technological advances in textiles to, for example, extend lengths and widths. They used the fabrics, quite literally, as a broad canvas for their designs. The textile company David Whitehead Ltd had a specific agenda to engage modern painters to produce designs for their textiles.
 
Childhood

Family ideals were a very important concept in British post-war society. The theme of childhood was closely linked with representations of a desirable domestic life. Knitting and sewing for children was promoted as a female role in domestic space and was directly referenced in knitting and sewing pattern imagery.
 
Colour

The introduction of greater colour variety to textiles and fabrics in the post-war years was linked directly to new technology that enabled textile companies to dye a wider range of materials, both natural and synthetic. Contemporary designers utilised this ability to the full, often selecting a neutral colour, black, white or grey, and three or four sharp colours to contrast with an abstract or organic form.
 
Contemporary

A term widely used to define a style of British design of the 1950s that sought to appear up to date but which was a far remove from the purism of International Modernism. Characterised by a lively use of colour, new materials, humour and lightness of structure, it appeared a dramatic contrast to war-time drabness and stifling historicism. The Festival of Britain in 1951 is regarded as the moment when the Contemporary style, in many fields of design, reached its widest public.
 
Continental fashion

The influence of continental fashion increased tremendously throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The 1947 Haute Couture 'New Look' collection by Christian Dior of Paris caused a huge stir after the war experience of economy and Utility. French fashion continued to have a strong impact, especially with the advent of the New Wave French cinema and as magazine consumption grew. Italian fashion was also influential, being particularly associated with bright and colourful knitwear. The early 1960s British youth group, the Mods, specifically targeted Italian knitwear and a slim-line silhouette.
 
Designers

The French fashion houses with established reputations continued to play a leading role in the post-war years. Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Molyneux, Pierre Balmain and Coco Chanel continued to have a powerful impact, as did the great British designers, for example, Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies. French designers of the 1960s were attracted to the British fashion ideals of youth and dynamic urban living, typified by the mini, they included Yves Saint Laurent, Andres Courreges, Paco Rabanne and Pierre Cardin. Leading British fashion designers of the period include Mary Quant, Barbara Hulanicki (Biba) and Jean Muir.
 
Dior 'New Look'

Christian Dior initially entitled his February 1947 collection the 'Corolla' line'. It has since become known singularly as the Dior 'New Look'. The name, 'Corolla', comes from a flower's ring of petals. Between ten and twenty five yards of material were used for day dresses, and in the case of the evening dresses, as much as eighty yards. The silhouette was defined by a nipped-in waist, soft, rounded shoulders and wide skirts that reached almost to mid-calf. Colour contrast of cream, black and white, and pastels, predominated. All this was strikingly 'new' in comparison with the war time necessity for economy and utility.
 
Domesticity

During the Second World War women had replaced men in many predetermined 'masculine' work roles in industry and agriculture. However, in the post-war years women were encouraged to remain at home and by means of housework, cooking and child rearing, to aspire to the notion of 'homemaker'. Ideal domestic relationships, environments and activities were promoted as a crucial part of a stable post-war society.
 
Fashion

Fashionable dress throughout the war and in the following years was limited by Utility regulations. With clothing quality and type restricted, often women would use hairstyles, make-up and accessories to appear 'fashionable'. During the 1950s, looking feminine related strongly to ideals of domesticity. Dior's 'New Look' and the 1950s American film and teenage culture contributed to this. In the 1960s, the British 'youth revolution' dominated fashion and had a dramatic impact on French couture.
 
Femininity

Gendered representations in the post-war years structured British society by promoting particular feminine and masculine roles. Attributes of femininity link strongly with those of domesticity. Women were represented dressed in pretty, feminine clothes or glamorously, emulating stars of stage or screen. Images of the female 'homemaker' were often represented in advertising. On sewing and knitting patterns women were depicted wearing decorative aprons, pictured with their family in matching knitwear.
 
Foreign travel

By the late 1950s Britain was enjoying high employment and more people were achieving a disposable income. Foreign travel to countries such as France, Spain and Italy were slowly becoming popular and with the arrival of cheaper, air-flight package holidays in the early 1960s, foreign travel became a reality for more people than ever before.
 
Glamour

Glamour throughout the late 1940s and 1950s was closely linked with the stars of cinema, particularly those of Hollywood films. The fashions, make-up and hairstyles portrayed on screen and in magazines of the time were copied avidly. With the development of television the aspiration of glamour became even more widespread.
 
Home dressmaking

The role of home dressmaking and sewing has been part of women's lives for centuries and in modern society aligns closely with ideals of domesticity and femininity. During the Utility period and in the post-war era of Austerity, it proved a means whereby women could dress themselves and their families economically. During the 1950s and 1960s, home dressmaking was often the only means of acquiring fashionable clothing since ready-made items remained beyond the means of many.
 
Magazines

Most magazine publications for women in the post-war years conveyed the ideals of domesticity and femininity through articles on home-based craft, housework, fashions and childcare. Magazines and newspapers actively aligned their messages with the demands of economy in war and later played a key part in developing a post-war consumer-based economy.
 
Masculinity

Gendered representations in the post-war years structured British society by promoting particular feminine and masculine roles. Attributes of masculinity, the counterpart of femininity, are linked with those of domesticity. After the war, men returned to their role as civilian ' breadwinner' once again and reaffirmed their position as provider. In illustrative and photographic imagery, the knitwear designs particularly show men in a 'masculine', active or sporting mode, for example, golfing, with racing binoculars, or smoking a pipe.
 
Organic

In terms of post-war textile design, this can relate to both traditional presentations of natural forms, for example the chintz floral, or 'modernised' representations that aligned natural forms with contemporary objects or within a contemporary setting. Some contemporary fabrics included just parts of a flower, tree or leaf or depicted them in an abstracted way.
 
Patriotism

During the war years and in the difficult times of Austerity afterwards, British people demonstrated their patriotic feelings by supporting Britain in a practical manner. The campaign to 'Make Do And Mend', and even the styling of clothes in a 'military' manner with no frills and adornment, was regarded as a patriotic contribution.
 
Photography

Drawings illustrated paper sewing patterns from the war years through to the 1960s. However, as reproduction technologies developed photography was used successfully for knitting patterns and in the designer sewing patterns of the 1960s.
 
Ready-to-wear

Advances in textile mass production contributed towards the development of the female ready-to-wear market. After the Second World War, companies such as Horrockses Fashions Ltd. supplied the female consumer with good quality cotton dresses in innovative textile designs.
 
Technology

Post-war advances in textile design production, such as screen printing, synthetic materials, dyes of wide-ranging colours, along with new electric sewing machines and knitting machines, assisted both the ready-to-wear clothes production market, the home dressmaker and the furnishing textile market.
 
Utility

Utility regulations were set in place by the British government in 1943 to enforce the economical use of materials and labour. Clothing, textiles and wools were included in the scheme. As supplies of raw materials diminished, the regulations affected how clothes would be designed, made and worn.
 
Youth

Throughout the 1950s, the portrayal of the American 'teenager' through cinema, magazines, newspapers, music, and the introduction of television, was appropriated by British youth culture in a variety of ways. In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, British society experienced its own cultural youth revolution. Increasing materialism and disposable incomes contributed towards the influence that British youth had on dress, pop music and the media.
 
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