The House Of Mirelle was a high end fashion house that existed in the UK city of Hull between 1938 and 1978.
It opened in the last months of calm before the outbreak of World War II and fast made its mark in a thriving city.
The 1940s and 1950s
Surviving clothes rationing it narrowly escaped destruction in The Hull Blitz.
By the 1950s it was groundbreaking in bringing high fashion to Hull and the values that went alongside it.
The Showroom and The Workroom
The Showroom was suitable for the wealthy and well known of East Riding who were given personal attention, always.
The Workroom provided an expert sewing and tailoring service to change clothing according to each woman’s measurements and taste.
Models and Fashion Labels
Famous mannequins – models – travelled north to take part in public fashion shows on the House of Mirelle catwalks.
They walked the runway wearing clothing from Frank Usher, Robita Couture, Norman Hartnell, Doree Leventhal and Elka Couture as well as many, many others.
The 1960s and 1970s
The swinging sixties saw a youthful and modern shop open under the Cecil Cinema.
By the 1970s both had joined Carmichaels ‘The Harrods Of The North.’
Fashion and women’s history 1938-1978
Between the florals of the ’30s and synthetics of the ’70s women’s lives altered beyond recognition.
In 1938 Paris was the centre of the fashion world and London second.
Before wartime Make Do And Mend the poorest families were used to hand-me-downs, darning and patching.
But throughout Mirelle’s forty years the rich had clothes made to their own measurements or bought what was called High End.
The History Of Sewing
In 1938 women knew how to make clothes and the paper pattern industry was thriving.
Sewing was taught in the home, school, evening classes and schools of art and design in Hull.
By 1978 sewing had been removed from the national curriculum.
Workrooms such as Mirelle’s became the exception replaced by the fast moving industry today.
The 1950s, 1960s and 1970s: A Fashion Revolution
In the 1960s fashion was changing too.
The youth quake of the 1950s widened a chasm and into it walked Mods, Rockers and Mary Quant.
The ’70s saw ‘my Generation’ all grown up; career girls had more social freedom and income to buy fashion than any generation before.
The House of Mirelle and Hull’s History
The House of Mirelle was open during forty years of change in the socioeconomic landscape intrinsic to its success.
A female owned and female run business most of the women were local to East Riding and Hull.
The thriving City centre rebuilt and redesigned in the 1950s kept traditional private, family run businesses in the heart of the City.
The shops lining the roads and streets were part of the culture that made Hull unique.
The decline of Hull’s retail heart
By 1978 the fishing industry had changed in a way that pre-war Hull could not have predicted.
Thornton Varley had been absorbed by Debenhams, Hammonds was bought by House of Fraser and Edwin Davis, ‘Davis of Bond Street’ was also closed.
‘For let’ signs went up as the city’s economic structure bowed.
House of Mirelle Research and Historical Archive
Mirelle created a cultural legacy remembered fondly by the people who worked, shopped and visited there.
Research and writing about Mirelle incorporates their memories and voices in over 60 hours of interviews: their Oral History.
Many have donated artifacts and clothing which has created the primary historic archive of The House of Mirelle.
The story of Mirelle is social history but more than social history, fashion history plus and it’s Hull but more than the history of Hull as well.
The story of the House of Mirelle describes the rise and fall of a fascinating period for all.
Read more about Hull’s history here.
(The film is Fashion House, a collection of clips from British Pathe, 1950-1969. It has no sound.)