‘Bridal outfits from the heart of filmland’: Clothes rationing, wartime film production and Gainsborough Pictures’ Studio Hire Service

Richard G Farmer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This article explores the Studio Hire Service, a wardrobe ‘pooling’ scheme set up by Gainsborough Pictures at the Shepherd’s Bush film studio following the introduction of clothes rationing in 1941. The Service enabled producers to hire rather than purchase items of clothing for use in their films, saving them money, reducing the number of new outfits required for each production and allowing clothing coupons, which filmmakers were expected to use sparingly, to be spent on only the most important or unusual costumes. Vital to the production sector in wartime Britain, the Studio Hire Service also played a notable role outside the film industry, not least in that it loaned outfits – including those worn by major female stars in films such as Love Story (1944) and Waterloo Road (1945) – to women for them to use as wedding dresses. In the last years of the war and the early years of the peace, hundreds (and possibly thousands) of British brides got married wearing a film-studio dress. The contribution that costume made to contemporary enjoyment of many of Gainsborough’s most famous films has been noted by scholars; this article shows that some of these same costumes also had a significant role to play in the real-world experiences of many ordinary Britons, offering access to a glamourous bridal outfit in a period of widespread sartorial scarcity and providing a noteworthy example of the way in which the bond between the picturegoer and the cinema extends beyond the auditorium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-238
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Volume21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of '‘Bridal outfits from the heart of filmland’: Clothes rationing, wartime film production and Gainsborough Pictures’ Studio Hire Service'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this