London Couture and the Making of a Fashion Centre
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.