|1930's lingerie advert. I would take them all!|
Marks and Spencer is one of the most recognised shops on the UK high street and even if the fashion doesn't always float your boat I bet you still go in for basics, underwear or food. My M&S staples are cardigans, tights, pyjamas and coronation chicken sandwiches!
|1970's lingerie advert. I like the florals in the middle.|
Most of the garments and items are behind glass so please excuse the strange lights and reflections in some of the photos. I think they still give a good idea of the fashions which is what I was after.
|I bet most people in the UK have at least one pair of M&S knickers!|
The first part of the exhibition goes through the history of the company - the detail of which can be found in this timeline. In brief, (underwear joke ha ha ha!), in 1884 an immigrant peddler Michael Marks opened his penny bazaar in Leeds market. He stopped selling more expensive items, concentrating on things like haberdashery and everything did indeed cost a penny. Tom Spencer became a partner in 1894 bringing admin skills and financial backing. By 1900 Marks and Spencer had 36 penny bazaars and 12 high street stores.
The penny pricing had to cease at the outbreak of the first world war as goods became harder to obtain and more expensive. The company survived the Depression by changing it's pricing and offering a smaller number of goods, concentrating on clothes and food. In the 1940's M&S helped the government with developing quality clothes with fewer details at lower prices, which helped to result in utility clothing.
|An early M&S shop assistant's uniform and one on the right from the 1940's.|
|More staff uniforms, I remember the one on the right.|
|Logo details on the dress in the middle above.|
|1960's uniform, as seen on the left above.|
In the 1950's and 1960's M&S concentrated on developing it's clothing, both in terms of fashions and materials. From the 1960's there was greater use of man made fabrics. The food department also changed, bringing chilled rather than frozen chickens to the housewives of the day. Convenience foods followed by 1973.
Now let's look at some fashion!
|1920's vanity box|
These two items are made form beautiful floral fabrics. The next set of pictures are of 1940's fashions.
|Look at those marvellous buttons!|
|I love this circus print! So much detail!|
Moving on to the 1950's.
|Great dog scarf!|
|A television showing period M&S adverts.|
Now for the 1960's.
|Great print on that dress.|
The exhibition continues to cover the years up to the present day. I stopped taking photos after the 1970's display as by then I had covered all the eras whose fashions I was interested in. The exhibition at the archive isn't massive but it is well displayed and informative and really very interesting. We spent a lovely time there and really enjoyed ourselves. We then wandered back into Leeds for dinner at the M&S cafe as we felt it was only fitting! There were no coronation chicken sandwiches though!
I leave you with this one of me modelling a wartime ARP helmet.
And as it should look!