My name is Mominah Munir and I’m a student with DFN Project SEARCH. Project SEARCH is a supported employment programme that gives young people with a learning disability and/or autism the opportunity to gain the skills needed in a real work environment and achieve paid employment.
For this blog I was given a photograph of a couple at a celebration ball taken back in the 1960s.
Introduction to the dress
The woman in the photograph is Mary Lapish, who was born and raised in Chapeltown before moving to Moortown. Mary was a teacher, and married in 1970 at the Leeds Registry Office in Park Square.
In the 1960s a new range of plastic-based synthetic materials were used, and the production of mass-produced readymade clothing was introduced. This modern material could be sewn into more modern styles, often not needing stiffening or lining.
Fashion of the time changed, and this is shown in the photograph. You can see the bodice of the dress has fine material on the bodice and a dramatic ‘V’ on the bottom half. It is difficult to see what fabric was used, maybe chiffon or organza. Its looks like it is in the style of Bridget Riley.
Q&A with the owner of the dress
Mary has kindly donated this dress to our museum. Please see below the questions I sent to Mary to find out more about the dress:
In the photograph you and your husband look happy. I really like the way you are looking into each other’s eyes. Everyone in the background looks to be having a great time. I have some question to ask about your dress.
- Did you buy your dress from a specialist shop, or did you have a dress maker? I purchased at Wallis on Briggate in Leeds. Wallis Ludlow was very go-ahead and a leader of fashion then.
- How did you decide on the style or dress? I thought the dress a younger style more up to date than the expensive, satin gowns in Schofield’s department store in Leeds.
- The photograph is black and white, what colour is your dress and what made you choose that colour? I chose black and white because I liked the contrast.
- How much did it cost? Unfortunately, I can’t remember.
- Why did you buy it? For a ‘going – down ball’ in 1966. At the end of our training, we attended the going- down ball and I was pleased to find the Op- Art gown you see in the photo, inspired by the cutting-edge designs of the British artist, Bridget Riley.
Design influences of this dress and the period
Bridget Riley, an Optical Artist, painted in black and white in the mid-1960s. She experimented with warmer and cooler greys, then into bright contrasting colours. The design looks like it is moving within the circles and the square design dress was very fashionable. Bridget Riley’s designs currently were black and white fashion colours.
The new materials in the 1960s were Perspex, PVC, polyester acrylic, nylon, rayon and Spintex together with the new fabric was a new style of clothing. Mary Quant was a young designer who famously designed the miniskirt as well as hot pants. The fabric was bright and attractive, easy to wash and quick to dry. Also, Mary Quant is credited with coloured and patterned tights. Her signature was a daisy she designed for the interior of the mini1000. It had a black and white striped interior with red trimming, the seatbelt was red, and the front seat had Mary’s signature on.
Psychedelic colours were very popular. Terrence Conran, Zikar Ascher and Alistair Morton of Edinburgh Weavers were innovative within the fabric world.
By Mominah Munir, DFN Project SEARCH placement