February blog: Designer winter fashion
Aquascutum, Burberry, Dannimac-all well-known brands associated with fashion and our drizzly climate. Some of these names are bound to pop up over London Fashion Week. But did you know that some of these brands have been around for a long, long time?
The Killerton collection has several nice examples of women’s overcoats and raincoats, including pieces by these manufacturers. Which would you choose?
Aquascutum, a well-known British fashion brand, was founded in 1851. John Emary, a Mayfair tailor, opened his Regent Street shop to cater for gentlemen clients. He patented a method of producing a water-repellent wool cloth, manufacturing the ‘Mayfair Wrapper’ from it. The firm went on to supply raincoats to the British royal family and Hollywood royalty alike. The company name Aquascutum comes from the Latin aqua (water) and scutum (shield). Taken over by Scantlebury and Commin in the 1870s, the brand name remained and the firm was granted a royal warrant in 1897. The womenswear department first opened in 1900, with a factory following close behind in 1909.
The woman’s coat seen here is a stunning scarlet wool example from Aquascutum’s ready to wear fashion range, marketed in the late 1940s.
Established in 1856, Burberry’s first shop, a gentleman’s outfitters, was opened by 21 year old draper, Thomas Burberry (1825-1936) in Basingstoke, Hampshire. His breakthrough invention was gabardine. Thomas introduced this revolutionary weatherproof fabric to the world in 1879. The name derives from a loose fitting protective cloak, gaberdinas, worn in Spain since the middle ages. Tough, tightly woven and water-repellent, gabardine was woven from worsted or cotton and worsted yarns. It made lighter, waterproof clothing possible.
Eventually Burberry opened its store on the Haymarket, London in 1891. The name became synonymous with outdoor and sporting wear. A 1908 advertisement illustrates an angling suit for keen fishermen. Smart and lightweight and made of gabardine lined with wool, it offered ‘practical inpermeability to wet, cold winds, and fish hooks’. Specialist clothing by Burberry was supplied to Ernest Shackleton for his Polar expeditions and to Roald Amundsen, the first to reach the South Pole in 1911.
Both Burberry and Aquascutum claim to have introduced the trench coat, supplied to officers during WWI. Burberry’s Tielocken raincoat was first advertised in 1912. Epaulettes and D rings to attach equipment were added during the war. Lord Kitchener was one of Burberry’s more famous customers at this time.
Courtaulds are a famous name in British textile manufacturing. The Norwich firm made their name with a special silk textile known as crape and used to trim 19th century mourning outfits, both indoor and outdoor wear, including capes and bonnets. Some crape was developed to be water-repellant. As the Courtauld empire expanded, so did the fortunes of the family, who became the elite of British society.
This stylish tussah silk trench-coat was specially made for Mrs Samuel Courtauld in the late 1920s to early30s.
The Fashion House Group of London was formed in 1958, and Dannimac were one of the ready to wear companies involved in providing well designed, mass produced clothing for sale on the High Street. They specialised in fashionable rainwear.
Here is a really swinging example from the 1960s. Could you see yourself stomping around the Killerton estate in this today?
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