The House of Foxy is a ladies wear brand of vintage inspired clothing made in Britain (formerly known as 20th Century Foxy). Our mission is to bring beautiful, demure and glamourous clothing to the world - inspired by a truly golden era.
The 1930s has always been a passion – since i was in my early teens… art deco furniture, art deco architecture, innovative bias cut dresses, ground breaking films – it’s a dream world! (I was born in the wrong era…)
Nowadays, the 1930s is often described as a ‘design decade’ or the most stylish of the century. Attention was turned towards simple and functional design and was influenced by the ‘modernism’ movement. A recent visit to the Museum of Textile and Fashion in London, which currently has an exhibition on 1930s fashion (blog post to follow), had many wonderful displays. One was a film from the era about interior design. Apart from being exquisitely stylish – the majority of the narration concentrated on simplicity and everything having its place. No clutter. Organised. Beautiful in its simple lines and functionality. This was true of many fields of design in this decade but this look was also reflected in the way fashion and print evolved during the decade.
You can’t call 1930s fashion unfussy or purely functional – there were plenty of frills and flounces. However you can see how the style lines of the garments follow this idealogy and particularly in prints. The shapes used, the style of florals and the ways that the pattern repeats – all work well with the cut of the dresses. Geometric patterns were unfussy and pretty simple in many cases.
I have several books on 1930s and art deco prints and some original hand painted prints (see image below). A few items from my vintage garment collection i chose specifically for their prints and a few wounded birds that cannot be worn anymore but preserved for the print.
some 1930s original prints
Now that we have been able to get our own prints made – which completely opened up design opportunities for me – I am enjoying designing and adapting prints that we own. Below is one of my absolute favourites – the poppy spray print.
The poppy print is approx 7cm wide and is repeated both ways with a nice distance between each spray. This makes the print work really well on bias and medium sized panels. It’s not too busy so the style lines are easy to see (which is important for 1930s dresses).
The poppy flower shapes are quite art deco and stylised in feel, having angled lines. The green stalks of the flowers are also quite stylised. Together with the colour choice of coral red, bright yellow, blush pink and ivory on the black – this, in my opinion, is a typical 1930s print. I just love it. I love how it works so well for autumn and goes with red, black and even gold.
We’ve had this design printed on two fabrics which we sourced so that they are as close as possible to fabrics used at the time. Rayon marocain and semi sheer rayon georgette (we are trying to ensure fabrics are sourced from sustainable suppliers – details to follow). We are making quite a few styles in these – the Ava, new Joanie bias cut dress, new Lana Peplum dress and several blouses. Some pics below.
For our full range in poppy spray – pls click here
To its patrons, the Great Cycling Revival is an excuse to dress-up to-the-hilt in the vintage inspired fashions and style of the period covered (1920s, 30s & 1940s), so here’s our little guide to dressing the part if you fancy popping along and hanging out by the track…
Since amazing prizes could be won for best dressed and being dressed in theme will gain you access to all areas of the event, it is also a great opportunity to enjoy the event even more.
Below are a few ideas to get you started:-
Ideas for 1920s Fans
The era of art deco, the flapper and the boyish look. This decade can be chic and elegant or decadent and full glam. The silhouette in the 1920s was boyish with a drop waist. You can have a lot of fun with the 1920s look!
Hair: was cropped close or in a bob. (a clever up-do can make a faux bob – there are plenty pop tutorials on you-tube)
Makeup: (inspired by the silver screen) was smoky eye and dark lip.
Accessories: cloche hat, long gloves, long pendant necklace, art deco jewellery
Shoes: Mary-Jane or T-bar
Idea 1: 1920s – Gatsby Gone Wild
This look is your opportunity to take opulence to a new level. This is the flapper look – beaded, bejewelled and fringed or sumptuous velvets and chiffons. Jewellery is abundant and headwear often adopted.
Idea 2: 1920s – Coco Chanel Chic
Hailed by Coco Chanel, black became fashionable and so did comfortable, simple drop waist styles. This era saw the start of the ‘Little Black Dress’. This is a really classy look and can combine an elegant drop waist dress with cloche hat and long pearls.
Ideas for 1930s Fans
The 1930s was a well dressed decade. It makes us think of bias cut gowns, tweed suits, flounces and frills. It had many contrasts with the 1920s – the waist has returned and curves are in vogue again. The 1930s, however, also saw the birth of ‘sports casual’ clothing for women when outdoor exercising was encouraged and adopted. Off the peg clothing was gaining pace and despite the economic problems of the decade – fashion was more available and very influenced by the silver screen.
The hair: is still short but more natural and often curled.
Makeup: is simpler than the 1920s but the main focus was a very thin eyebrow and a strong lip.
Accessories: are abundant: faux fur, gloves, scarves and a tilt hat or beret to top of your outfit.
1930s Idea 1:- Trouser Style
If comfort is your thing and you are seeking a trousers style – then this might be the look for you! The new sports casual styles of the 30s often took the form of sailor themes. Very wide trousers with bib fastening, boat neck top or sailor blouse. Pair with a beret
1930s Blouse & Slacks
1930s Idea 2:- Hollywood Glam
In need of a boost and some escapism during the great depression, ladies flocked to the cinemas to see what their favourite stars were wearing. From slinky evening wear is silly satin to practical and stylish tweed or wool suits.
Ideas for 1940s Fans
When we think of 1940s fashion, we probably think of the glamour of the 40s Pin Up and the practical styles of the wartime Land Army Girls. We think of ultra feminine 1940s tea dance dresses in floral prints, wedge shoes and brogues. The fashions were of course, influenced by the war and economic situation and so fashion was practical.
Makeup: subtle winged eyeliner, red lip
Hair: 1940s hair is definitely the iconic element of this era – but can easily look silly if not done right. Avoid victory rolls and try the 40s poodle or pageboy with hair flowers.. check out instruction videos on youtube.
Accessories: seamed stockings/tights, hat or snood, diamanté jewellery
Shoes: brogues or sandals wioth a platform
1940s Idea 1: Home Front Honey
The is a great style for those who seek a practical option – perhaps also very helpful if cycling! Trousers from this period are different to modern styles – choose reproduction high waisted, wide leg trousers which are really flattering and should be paired with a waisted jumper, blouse and jacket. Or opt for a practical shirt waister dress.
1940s Idea 2: Film Noir
Many ladies love the ultimate sophisticated clothing of the 1940s hollywood glamour – whether that be a suit with a faux fur or an elegant floral tea dress. Remember headwear and a bit of bling!
It is unusual to manufacture here in the UK – that is fact. Until the 1990s – it wasn’t unusual, but typical for clothes to be made here. With rising wages and new rules governing how this industry works in this country, things changed rather quickly. Suffice to say it’s a hotbed of political opinion and not something i would often raise in polite conversation with anyone who experienced that change unless i had plenty of time to spare!
And this isn’t a post about ethics or politics or pricing – it’s about our lovely factory and our core values.
We currently manufacture all our House of Foxy dresses, coats and majority of separates at a dedicated factory.
We have 4 sewing machinists who bring a variety of different skills and wisdom to the team. We mainly do ‘through-work’ which means that one person generally makes an entire garment rather than just a ‘piece’ of it. This – again – is fairly unusual. You will soon find special labels in each of the dresses – saying who has made your garment!
We also have a Pattern Cutter who looks after all our patterns and cuts the fabric for each garment. We use traditional methods and our patterns are on card and cut by hand.
Our Garment Finisher quality checks each garment, does all the hand finishing such as adding any of the trimmings and packs the garments ready to send.
Finally our Production Manager overseas the whole process and runs a tight ship!
Having a dedicated factory gives us the facility to create new products quickly and means that we don’t have to resort to strict seasonal collections. I would find that too restrictive and since i get design ideas during the season too – this is ideal. This is a designers dream. We are extremely privileged to have a team of people who are so dedicated and get as excited as I do about all our garments.
It also gives us a great deal of control over quality – something that is really important. We aren’t fast fashion orientated – we are creating clothes that we want you to love and enjoy wearing for many years.
There is no doubt – this is my totally favourite dress at the moment. (apart from the Vivienne of course..)
It’s a timeless and elegant design – inspired by an original dress that crossed my path and begged me to own when i was searching for something akin to the designs by Dorothy O’hara.
Dorothy O’hara was known for being a prominent designer at Paramount Studios throughout the 1940s. So she was designing many costumes for films but also went on to develop her own fashion label which thrived through the late 40s and 50s. Her designs were designed to flatter the female figure with a focus on strong shoulders and a slim waist and hip – using clever draping techniques. I would love to own one of her 1940s dresses – a dream dress that would probably be a museum piece now!
I knew i wanted an elegant 1940s cocktail dress in the collection – one that used some of the draping techniques that seemed more prominent in the american styles. I turned to O’hara for inspiration – even though the majority of her dresses were full length and/or occasion wear that demanded a lot of labour. So the challenge was to create a beautiful dress with plenty od the signature details but still fitting in a specific price point.
I like asymmetry but i also try to keep the lines simple because detail can be ‘overdone’. I also appreciate well fitting garments and good fabric.
my initial sketch
What I love about this dress…
It simply makes the most of the feminine physique and flatters whilst still being demure. There is an air of mystique about it.
It’s timeless and will suit many ages and shapes.
The asymmetrical style lines are interesting and create wonderful shapes – i love the ruching at the right side of the bust that is mirrored by the ruching and drapes at the left hip.
It’s got sleeves! (and we’ve shaped them with two darts)
In the heart of West Yorkshire – lies Elland, a small town with a big heart.
In Elland is a a quaint Picture House, a cinema which has retained many of it’s original vintage elements – the rich red seating, the organ at the front and even has a traditional usherette during films! Built in 1912 as a cinema – despite a few changes of uses and owners over the years, it hasn’t structurally changed at all. The cinema is loved by locals and is a destination for cinema goers for miles around. With one screen, and two showings per day – the cinema takes us back to the traditional way of viewing – showing old and new films during the week and organ recitals a few times a week too.
It has been used many times for filming, documentaries and photoshoots.
So we were thrilled when they agreed to let us use the space for our Autumn fashion shoot. An ideal location for our ‘Film Noir’ theme.
The silver screen became the prime leisure activity for many during the 1930s right through to the 50s. Films were one of the core influences on fashion too with stars promoting brands and styles. Cinema going is one of our favourite past times especially in through the autumn and winter months – and it seemed a fitting venue for our autumn winter shoot for colour and vintage feel.
As always, we had great fun during this shoot – my partners being Bethany from The Vintage Beauty Parlour who did a fantastic job with hair and makeup, Chris Lord from Chris Lord Photography and model – Tanya Beetham whom we have worked with for a number of years now.
The idea was to create the film noir mood with a nod to the past. We wanted atmosphere, faded elegance, sumptuous colours. Thanks to Chris’ innovative lighting and the great atmosphere in the cinema itself – we are really pleased with the result. Our seasonal colours of mustard, berry, navy & black in fabric of crepe and lace worked well in the setting. Topped off by Bethany’s film noir inspired makeup and hair.
Bethany brings so much experience to our shoots and we have worked together for a number of years now. Photoshoot demand a perfect finish – since every strand of hair shows – Bethany is a real perfectionist with an absolute focus on detail. We had several hair styles – a classic poodle, a veronica lake style and the classic scarf. We chose a smokey eye look rather than the classic vintage winged eyeliner but as always, my signature orange-red lip…
My favourite dress of this is the ‘Vivienne’ – inspired by an image I found of 30s/40s starlet ‘Vivienne Leigh’ – a late 30s reproduction dress based on one from my collection – We have recreated the dress in a stretch lace but lined. The neckline is super flattering and with so much detail in the dress – it really is a show stopper. We will be making this dress in a shorter length and in silk/viscose velvets. Watch this space.
My other fav item is the Elsie Blouse – in mustard and ivory – should be on sale any day. Review coming soon!
This is going to be a hard one to top for next time!
Thanks again to the Rex Cinema in Elland for their flexibility, support and giving their time for this shoot. Please find their details below:-
For those that haven’t been – Goodwood Revival is one of the premier vintage themed events of the year and revolves around racing of vintage vehicles at the Goodwood Race track nr Chichester. Apart from the racing, visitors on this 3 day event are strongly encouraged to dress up in vintage attire and many do so! There are competitions for best dressed and it’s definately a high standard!
We have been attending for 7 years and we have a double stall in the Revival market which is inside the track. So do come and say hello!!
Things to note for Goodwood Revival First Timers:-
if you don’t dress up you will regret it
take something warm just in case you decide to stay late – it can get very cold
you may have to walk a fair way from your parking – take suitable walking shoes and change. This can also save precious vintage shoes from wear!
you can get your hair done but its worth booking in advance
So this little post is a a little preview of new items we have brought out especially for Goodwood Revival. Many are limited edition and we’ve tried to create a new style for each era!
1940s – The 40s Goodwood Grable Dress
This is a smashing new 40s ensemble that we have created with Goodwood Revival in mind!
A new limited edition for our best selling tea dance dress we named after wartime pinup ‘Betty Grable’. This is a limited edition pale blue floral print paid with luxurious black crepe and a matching black crepe bolero lined in the print!
So if you fancy wear 40s – this is a great modern take on a 40s dress set. The bolero is perfect as a coverup for the chilly evenings too!
This is an exquisite new style dress that was based on an original vintage 1950s garment. So if the 1950s is your thing then this is a great dress you dress up or down. Pair with a faux fur, petticoat, tilt hat and heels for a great 1950s look.
If you are busty, this dress gives plenty of room and due to the batwing sleeves that cover the upper arm, is comfy and easy for movement. Waist band under bust creates a lovely nipped in silhouette together with a full circular skirt which can be worn with or without a petticoat.