Elegant shopping at Derry and Toms

Victoria Station, at a quiet time of the day.

display at victoria

Sometime…in the 1920s, I think. A display unit, and some posters reminding you to head for Kensington for high-class fashion and household goods.

poster display

Four of them are by Norman Keene,featuring the same playful dog.

wool

Keene was a commercial artist who created many advertising posters. If you google him you’ll find one of he did of the Kodak Girl (created by our friend John Hassall) and a sexy one for Wright’s Coal Tar soap.

But we won’t go off at a tangent at this point. All but one of the images in this week’s post come from a scrapbook/album of  photos, postcards (and photographs of postcards) and stamps all devoted to promoting Derry and Toms, one of the three big department stores on Kensington High Street. The John Barker Company ended up owning all three stores but kept their seperate identities. Derry and Toms was merged /taken over by Barkers in the 1920s. It’s hard to date some of the images in the scrapbook. Some are as early as 1919, others must come from the 1930s. But they demonstrate the desire to keep the Derry and Toms brand distinct.

It’s a shame not all of the cards are in colour, but the monochrome versions emphasise the design. Monochrome or colour some of them still work as promotional images.

shade - Copy

The images are nearly all signed. Below, FH Warren did several for Derry and Toms. Warren also worked for London Underground as did some of the others.

blouses

Stylish blouses and romantic fashions for autumn.

autumn

Summer:

summer

And spring:

spring needs

Hall Thorpe was an Australian artist who specialised in prints.

There were hats:

hats3

And specialised items:

aero

Clothes for flying. Air travel still a luxury had its own fashion items.

Derry and Toms also appealed to a younger audience.

toys

(Helen Byrne Bryce also did London Underground posters)

little people

Swords for sale, for use in a recognizeable Kensington landscape (Kensington Gardens looking towards St Mary Abbots). Kensington was also celebrated in a small set of souvenir stamps,featuring other local sights.

stamps 1

It was all there at Derry and Toms.

ships

I found a colour version of one of the designs.

raincoats 2

The elegantly named J Dewar Mills. Not too much is lost by not having the colour.

raincoats (2)

The final pick is one I’ve played around with a little.

umbrellas - Copy

The two women under their umbrellas in coats hats and veils remind me a little of the fashions from a much later retailer – Biba, the final incarnation of which was in the Derry and Toms building, appropriately enough. Last week I happened to meet a lady who had modelled for Biba in the early years of the shop. So this post is discreetly dedicated to her.

Postscript

The album is part of the Trevor Bowen collection, an archive of material related to the John Barker Company. (Bowen was Chairman of the company. The still surviving Roof Garden was his brainchild.)


7 responses to “Elegant shopping at Derry and Toms

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