Welcome to the LCF archives
The LCF archives are a treasure trove of fashion related artefacts, from 18th century suit jackets, to Chanel boater hats and Drapers records. As a collaborative project, LCF's Head Archivist Susanna Cordner tasked MA Fashion Curation students Donatienne Ferre and Katie Godman with selecting and contextualising a selection of pieces from the archives.
Unfinished single-breasted men's jacket
The British tailors Henry Poole donated a diverse collection of bespoke suits to London College of Fashion's archives. First founded as a linen draper by James Poole in 1806 in Brunswick Square in London, this family business has arguably gone on to become Savile Row’s most famous institution. After his death, James Poole’s son, Henry Poole, inherited the family Business, and soon relocated it to Savile Row. This half-finished single breasted men’s jacket from 2009 has been selected from the London College of Fashion archives to represent the process of bespoke tailoring. It takes approximatively 70 hours to make a bespoke suit, from collating the client’s measurements to the construction of the paper pattern, followed by the creation of the bespoke pattern. Thus, the cut and the internal construction of a jacket are the backbone of the bespoke suit.
Building on the military tunics his father specialised in producing, Henry Poole put his passion for equestrian and field sports into practice, creating specialist suiting for different outdoor pursuits. This helped to establish the family business as the most famous tailoring House, serving famous clients including the future Emperor Napoleon as well as Queen Victoria and King Edward VII. This red tweed hunting jacket celebrates the British tradition for outdoor activities and the history of specialist suiting for sports, which has undergone few modifications since the early 19th century.
Influenced by military costume, the London based artist Penny Green designed this jacket for Percy Savage in the late 1980s. Percy Savage organised a lot of fashion shows and was well known in the fashion world from 1950s and onwards. Considered as the precursory and original instigator of celebrity fashion publicity, Percy Savage was also very much involved in the nightlife and glamorous fashion scene. Very tall and quite masculine with a deep drawling voice, the fashion icon was known for shining at parties wearing bold, idiosyncratic styles such as this blue velvet jacket. This piece was therefore selected as an important symbol of London’s social history and creativity in fashion.
Pair of women's running shoes
These women’s running shoes were made by a Cordwainer College student in the 1930s and are part of the Cordwainer’s collection within London College of Fashion’s archives. They are made of black leather, with contrasting coloured laces, and have small spikes in the sole, which would rest under the ball of the wearer’s foot, to help with grip. They are surprisingly stiff, perhaps due to age or the leather they are made of.
Illuminatingly, this pair of shoes are still marked with their original price tag, which tells us that they were reduced from twenty-six shillings and three pence down to two shillings in 1943. They are a clog style sandal with a wooden wedge heel. Wood was often used in shoes during the Second World War due to the scarcity of other materials. They have three straps to go across the foot, held in place by nails.
This pair of women's ankle boot dates from the 1870s. The boots have white buttons, which have become tarnished. The leather has also aged, giving the boots a greenish blue hue, when they were perhaps brown. The arch on the sole is high and the heel is damaged. It is very narrow, in reflection of the, in general, smaller stature and shoe size of a woman from the 1800s.
Silk crepe dress
Made of black silk crepe and trimmed with pink silk lace and crepe detail, this gown dates from the 1930s. The maker is unknown, but believed to be French. It was donated by Hester Borron, but it originally belonged to and was worn by her grandmother. Most of the work was done on machine, though there is evidence of hand stitching which could signify repair work. The design appears to have been inspired by the work of the French designer Vionnet, since it has a bias cut which was pioneered by the designer, as well as the work of Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli who designed a very similar dress. Both designers were based in Paris in the 1930s.
Children's summer dress
This children’s summer dress by Dutch clothing brand C&A is made of blue cotton decorated with white polka dots, which are complimented with coordinated details and accessories such as the white cotton collar and cuffs, a satin ribbon bow and trim and a plastic belt. It is a sample from 1997 and was donated to the London College of Fashion’s archives when the C&A store on Oxford Street closed. As the dress is a sample donated straight from the brand’s store, it was never sold or worn and so is in good condition. It is machine sewed and produced by Carfax. The London College of Fashion Archive does not have many examples of children’s clothes making this a noteworthy piece.
Selection and text by MA Fashion Cultures students Donatienne Ferre and Katie Godman.