Posted in History Of 20th Century Fashion In Hull, History Of Hull

Hull History: Help Save The Hull Braves Guild Building – And Mira’s Legacy too

Social media is a powerful thing and the Hull History Facebook pages are no exception. 

This morning I read a post on Old Hull  started by Jane Hitchin. The picture at the top was of a wonderful old red brick building with the words The Hull Braves Guild painted across the front.  You can see the photo in this post  and follow the link to the Facebook page above.

Reading down, it appears that this building may be demolished on 22nd August unless the planning committee decides otherwise. I was particularly shocked by this decision as The Hull Braves Guild is also part of the story of Mira Johnson and The House of Mirelle.

The Braves Guild raised money to advise, help and house disabled and older people of Hull. It had an 112 year history and closed in December 2010.

My response:

Mira was a lifelong and selfless personality in the landscape of Hull’s charitable organisations. Throughout her life she worked to benefit charity including The Hull Braves Guild. 

Public donations came from her staging large theatrical fashion shows that took place – mostly – in locations in Hull including The New York Hotel and Guildhall.  
On 12th December 1950 a fashion show called ‘Frills For Festivities’ was held at Guildhall which benefited the Hull Braves Guild. It was staged on the suggestion of the then Sherriff’s Lady Mrs F L Bailey. 
On 29/11/1951 again at the request of the then Sherriff’s Lady L Rosen, another House Of Mirelle fashion show took place at Guildhall which, again, benefited Hull Braves Guild. 
They were large scale public events with considerable attention paid to them and full houses in terms of attendance. Both occasions speak to the importance of Hull Braves Guild in the minds of the public officials and the public at this time. 
It is unthinkable that the building that housed the charity could be demolished. It is a vital part of Hull’s social history and must remain.
If you want to help the protest against the demolition of this building and such a prominent part of Hull’s social and architectural history, please email as follows:
Email address: dev.control@hullcc.gov.uk
Please use the reference in the email header: Ref. No: 16/00737/PAAD
Feel free to quote the section in this post in bold if you want to set your email into historical context.
The link between Mirelle, Mira and The Braves Guild is one that speaks to its relevance to Hull’s history overall. For this reason, I’m watching the public protest against this closely.
I think Mira would be outraged and possibly even hurt on behalf of those the charity helped.
Once gone, this building will never be replaced.
She would be standing at the front of the crowd saying in her passionate lead-from-the-front simplicity, that the building absolutely must be allowed to remain.
©Carrie Henderson 2016. 
Posted in Creative Non Fiction, Fashion History, Haute Couture, History Of 20th Century Couture, History Of 20th Century Fashion, History Of 20th Century Fashion In Hull, House Of Mirelle Fashion House Hull Book, Social History, The History Of Haute Couture, Vintage Fashion Blog, Vintage Fashion History, Vintage Fashion Journalism, Vintage Fashion Research

The History Of Couture: Expert Fashion In The Making

Shopping expeditions to the high street or browsing online to buy that must-have pair of shoes is far away from the couture shopping experience.

Couture, or hand-made clothing made to an individual’s requirements is every bit as glamorous as it sounds and its history is not entirely French!

Although ‘couture’ is a French word meaning ‘sewing’, the business was invented by a British fashion designer called Charles Frederick Worth.

This grand-sounding gentleman worked as an apprentice in various textile merchants in the 19th Century. While he was learning about fabrics, a skill essential for any fashion designer, he visited art galleries and studied portraits of historic women. He was consumed and inspired.

On moving to Paris in 1845 he set up a small dressmaking department in the firm Gagelin which was so successful that in 1858 he’d branched out on his own. The ‘House Of Worth’ is widely regarded as the first couture house in history.

His creations were so extraordinary that they were received with acclaim. French royalty ordered and bought them, American women flocked to Paris to view and buy and European aristocracy bought and wore House Of Worth creations.

Empress Eugenie Wearing Charles Worth Dress.
Empress Eugenie Wearing A Charles Worth Dress.

His fashion house had a strict heirarchy of ‘hands’ or employees, a Directrice – or head salesperson who was in charge of selling the clothes – and their skills were second to none.

His garments were extremely expensive, exclusive and completely out of reach of the average woman. They were living works of art.

Realising they needed to safeguard the standards associated with the name couture, Le Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture established a set of guidelines. Anyone calling themselves a couture house must adhere to them. These rules were tightened up in 1945 at the close of World War 2 and are still in use today.

Parisian fashion held the world in it’s hands. By the 1900s it was simply the center of fashion worldwide.

But Britain wasn’t forgotten – it had its own couturiers too.

Based in London the work of Digby Morton, Norman Hartnell, Bianca Mosca, Hardy Amies and Edward Molyneux established British fashion in the international marketplace.

In 1941 they became the founder members of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers – or IncSoc. These designers were asked to create patterns for Utility clothing under the clothes rationing scheme in World War 2. The results of the CC41 designs have remained in the British consciousness since.

Utility Clothing Image Courtesy IWM London.
Utility Clothing Image Courtesy IWM London.

They used quintessential British tailoring skills to create a wardrobe that was simple, understated and elegant. With the Utility scheme for the first time couture creations were entirely within reach of the British public.

The House Of Worth was by no means the only or first fashion house but Charles Worth was such an extraordinary publicist that his name has been associated with the establishment of couture fashion since.

His success is also a story about how a couture fashion business relies on publicity and promotion, social connections, reputation and word of mouth recommendation.

It was as vital then as customer service and branding is now.

Mira Johnson, Directrice of The House Of Mirelle followed in his footsteps. She was the powerhouse behind Hull’s fashion house and like Worth, a consummate publicist. She harnessed the power of the press to advertise ‘her fashion house.’

Through doing so she left a legacy for us to admire in the pages of journals and newspapers of the era and everlasting awareness of the couture designs found in donations to Hull Museum made by the House Of Mirelle.

© Carrie Henderson 2015