Chepstow Museum is bursting into bloom with an exhibition of floral fashion fabric designs created by female designers in the years following the First World War, when women began making their mark in a previously male dominated world. Original hand drawn and painted textile designs intended for flowery voiles, muslins and silks, together with fabric samples, complete chiffon dress, images from catalogues and magazines show work produced by women of the Silver Studio, London from 1910-1940.
In the years between the two World Wars the floral frock was a stylish and versatile garment that could be worn for formal occasions and everyday wear. It was practical, smart and fashionable and various versions could be purchased to suit any pocket. Ready-to-wear clothing was available by the 1920s but wealthier women continued to employ designers and dressmakers, and many women had a sewing machine and the skills to make beautifully tailored clothes at home. Floral printed cottons, silks, chiffons and rayons were the fashion fabrics that filled the floors of department stores- the height of modern shopping – in inter-war Britain.
The Silver Studio of Design, thanks largely to its women workers built a reputation for producing designs for dress prints for many of the most fashionable retailers and respected manufacturers including Liberty & Co and Selfridges.
These were the first generation of female designers to work with industry for large scale printed textile production. They were making their mark in a previously male dominated world and helped to pave the way for greater female influence in fabric design.
“Their names are now all but forgotten,” said Anne Rainsbury, curator of ChepstowMuseum “but because the women designers were expected to work from home, more evidence has survived about their working lives and the process of designing, through the letters that were written about their work. This correspondence between Rex Silver and his satellite staff of women designers survives in the Studio’s archives now held in the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, together with their beautiful hand drawn and painted textile designs, samples of the printed fabrics, catalogues and advertisements that fill this exhibition – a fabulous flowering of the blossoming talent of these pioneering women in the world of fashion design.”
This exhibition is part of a focus on fashion at Chepstow Museum, leading up to our What is Fashion project this summer and autumn….
An exhibition of floral fashion fabric designs
created by women working for the Silver Studio, 1910-1940
ChepstowMuseum, Bridge Street, Chepstow
Saturday May 4th – Sunday June 30th ,
Open Mon-Sat 11-5, Sun 2-5