British Male Designers
Aquascutum is one of the most classic British Ready-to-Wear clothing brands. Though it is now Asia based, its vintage pieces are timeless and ever popular.
Aquascutum was established in 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition, when tailor and entrepreneur John Emary opened a high quality menswear shop at 46 Regent Street in London. In 1853, after succeeding in producing the first waterproof wool, he had his discovery patented and renamed the company 'Aquascutum', Latin for 'watershield'. The company created other fabrics and coats using similar names, such as the Eiderscutum light overcoat and (in 1962) the multicoloured wool-yarn weave, Aquaspectrum.
Coats for officers in the Crimean War (1853–1856) were made from Aquascutum's waterproof fabric, as were the trench coats worn by soldiers of all ranks in both world wars, after which, this style became popular with the general public.
The oldest likely ‘trench’ coat in existence today is the grey Aquascutum one of Lt. General Gerald Goodlake, which is preserved at Newstead Abbey, England. He wore it during the Crimean war and it saved his life by enabling him to blend in with enemy soldiers.
Aquascutum developed the Raglan sleeve for Lord Raglan, who wanted more ease of movement and dressing after losing his arm in the battle of Waterloo.
King Edward VII was Aquascutum’s first royal client and he promoted the company and wore the ‘Prince of Wales’ check coat. They were granted a royal warrant in 1897.
In 1909, Aquascutum opened a womenswear department, offering water-repellent capes and coats, which were very popular among British suffragettes. ‘Coats for women will lead to votes for women’!
During the 1950s, Aquascutum began making a more fashionable line, which continues today.
The company has supplied aristocrats, political leaders, and actors, including three Princes of Wales, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, Cary Grant, and Michael Caine.
Aquascutum was family owned until 1990. It has since passed into the hands of various clothing manufacturers, going bankrupt a number of times. It is now owned by China's Shandong Ruyi.
We have two 90s check Aquascutum skirts available.
Norman Hartnell, designer to the royals.
Born in London in 1901, he first turned his hand to design while studying at Cambridge University. There, he created the costumes for the Footlights dramatic club. Having found his passion, he dropped out of college and used his Cambridge connections to find upper class clients. He opened his first shop in Mayfair in 1923. He was soon designing for the silver screen and high society women. Although expressing the spirit of the Bright Young Things and Flappers, his designs overlaid the harder silhouettes with a fluid romanticism in detail and construction. The originality and intricacy of Hartnell embroideries were frequently described in the press.
In 1935, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester asked Hartnell to create her wedding dress, as well as looks for her bridesmaids. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were among those bridesmaids, and their mother took a particular liking to Hartnell's designs. From then on, Hartnell would be a favourite of the Queen Mother's; she awarded him a Royal Warrant in 1940, signifying his importance.
The Queen chose Hartnell to create the two most memorable designs she's ever worn: her 1947 wedding dress, and her 1953 coronation gown. In 1957, he was awarded his second Royal Warrant, this time as a dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth.
The queen’s varied wardrobe during the royal tour of 1953-4 gained press and newsreel headlines internationally, not least for the cotton dresses worn and copied worldwide, many ordered from a specialist wholesale company, Horrockses.
Hartnell's designs were often intricate and always glamorous. Looking back at his work, it seems to exemplify a certain midcentury opulence.
In the mid-1950s, Hartnell reached the peak of his fame and the business employed some 500 people.
Hartnell's design for the wedding dress of Princess Margaret in 1960 marked the last full State occasion for which he designed an impressive tableau of dresses. It also marked the swan-song of lavish British couture.
He was knighted in 1977 and passed away in 1979. His house continued operations after his death until eventually closing in 1992.
He is featured as a character in the first two seasons of the Netflix drama The Crown, portrayed by Richard Clifford.
Henry Digby Morton was born in Dublin in 1906. He was a London-based fashion designer and among the pioneers of ready-to-wear fashions in the 1950s. He helped to establish the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers, an early forerunner of the British Fashion Council. He reinvented the tweed suit, which was previously a frumpy staple of country life, into something chic and even avant-garde.
His contemporary Hardy Amies said of Morton: "[His] philosophy was to transform the suit from the strict tailleur, or the ordinary country tweed suit with its straight up and down lines, uncompromising and fit only for the moors, into an intricately cut and carefully designed garment that was so fashionable that it could be worn with confidence at the Ritz”.
He started his career working for Selfridges and Liberty in London. He then worked as a sketch artist for Jay’s, recreating Parisian fashions. By 1928, he'd become designer for couture house Gray Paulette & Shingleton (later renamed Lachasse to make it sound more French!). Morton created a debut collection featuring Ardara Donegal tweed in what were then radical colour combinations such as bright greens and pale blues blended with traditional browns. He left Lachasse after 5 years and set up his own house in 1933.
He maintained active during WWII as a couturier but also responded to the need for affordable clothing, respecting guidelines of rationing and utility. He designed a collection of utility clothes for the government, a uniform for the Women’s Volunteer Service, and overalls for female factory workers.
Morton – along with other members of IncSoc – also designed costumes for a number of British films, including the wartime production Ships with Wings and post-war movies Maytime in Mayfair and The Astonished Heart. Showcasing the work of couturiers was seen as a way to convince other manufacturers and the general public of the fashion value of utility designs.
In 1953, US manufacturer Hathaway asked Morton to design a women's range.
He copied men's shirts, tailored and adjusted for the female form and made in bright colours with contrasting bowties. The success of this innovation landed him the Time magazine epithet: 'Daring Digby’.
In 1957, Morton closed his London couture house and set up another UK venture Reldan-Digby Morton (later Reldan). The brand was successful on both sides of the Atlantic and created the aura of couture in ready-to-wear styles. The more adventurous designs – bright yellow and black striped suits and jet black beach coats – appealed to a market of playboys and dandies.
He set up Digby Morton Menswear in 1963 and produced a range of casual "easy-care" clothing, taking advantage of the firm's recently-developed Trevira wash-and-wear fibre, and used the same skill he'd displayed on women's suiting to break conventions.
Digby Morton died in 1983, at the age of 77.
Cecil Beaton was, among many other things, a photographer and Oscar-winning costume designer.
He was born in London in 1904. His nanny got him into photography from an early age and he began submitting his work to society magazine’s. He was eventually published in Vogue and soon after he left Cambridge University without graduating. He moved to New York and built up a reputation there, eventually getting a contract with Condé Nast Publications.
Beaton is known for his fashion photographs and society portraits. In addition to Vogue, he also worked for Vanity Fair as well as photographing celebrities in Hollywood. He then became a war photographer during WW2 and was a favourite of the royal family.
After the war, Beaton turned his hand to costume design and tackled the Broadway stage, designing sets, costumes, and lighting for a 1946 revival of Lady Windermere's Fan.
His costumes for Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady (1956) were highly praised. This led to two Lerner and Loewe film musicals, Gigi (1958) and My Fair Lady (1964), each of which earned Beaton the Academy Award for Best Costume Design. My Fair Lady presented an enhanced, contemporised vision of the Edwardian grandeur of his childhood.
He brought his photographer’s flair to costuming and was more an artist than historian when creating period clothing. He knew how to make actresses look great on film regardless of what the historical style might have dictated.
He designed his sister Nancy’s wedding dress in 1933, which is one of the most beautiful bridal gowns from this period.
Beaton also designed the academic dress of the University of East Anglia.
He himself was known for his immaculate dressing and unique style with a love of vintage clothing. He exuded dandyism and was a key player in documenting the Bright Young Things movement. He photographed the hedonistic set at Bloomsbury costume parties and charity pageants in all their finery throughout the 1920s. He was also a member.
He was knighted in 1972 and passed away in 1980 from a stroke.
In the twilight of his career, Beaton’s contribution to photography, theatre, film and fashion was celebrated in exhibitions at the V&A and the National Portrait Gallery.