A cult vintage brand, if you have frequented an online market or two, you may have come across Frank Usher’s creations.
But who was or is Frank Usher?
“Frank Usher” was launched during post-war austerity Britain, and was in actual fact a defunct name bought by Max and Anne Bruh, a married couple who had fled Nazi-occupied Germany as they were both of Jewish heritage and faith. Max Bruh had previously worked to the famous Berlin fashion house Friedlander & Zaduk. The couple were drawn to the idea that “Frank Usher” offered them anonymity, but the name was phonetically pleasing, instantly sounding professional and fashionable. Not to mention, it was far easier to buy a name than start a new business altogether, as at this point in British manufacturing you had to have textile trading coupons to operate, and this was incredibly difficult to find as a new business.
Frank Usher was launched at a huge pivotal change in British fashion. Before this time, in order to buy a new dress, a woman would have to save up lots of money in order to afford it. Frank Usher, like many other burgeoning high street brands like Topshop, saw an opening in the market for ready-to-wear fashion for the everyday woman, but also didn’t compromise on quality and style.
Frank Usher operated as a ready-to-wear house that copied Haute-Parisian looks at a way more affordable price. Anne and Max not only had a safety net of who they knew (so they could get hold of these patterns and styles), but they also knew how to get the best fabric for less. Their forward-thinking toiles twirled their way onto the British market, and their designs were quickly snapped up by large department stores around the world. With their help, women could easily buy clothes for all occasions.
Frank Usher knew their market; they sought after patterns that were “wearable”, choosing classic patterns and shapes that would never go out of style. Many of their clientele were middle to upper-class women in Britain and abroad who wanted the latest fashions but they didn’t want to risk all of their earnings on just one piece. They are known for their long-line flowing designs in “feminine” fabrics, so they can be worn and treasured again and again.
During the 1960s to the 1990s, Frank Usher was hugely successful, so much so that Max Bruh became part of the board of British Fashion Export council! You can find Frank Usher creations from all of these periods, adopting clear stylistic hallmarks from these eras like the 1970s free-flowing silhouette and 1980s puff sleeves and elaborate beading.
In the 2000’s after Max and Anne’s deaths, the company was sold to the Simma corporation. The company today produces four different collections of evening wear with its vintage pieces being well-sought after by collectors. Frank Usher today is far different from its former glory, with its designs clearly mass-market in style and marketed to the older woman. That being said, it leaves a huge style legacy on the British high street and British fashion industry as a whole.
When searching for vintage Frank Usher, keep an eye out for elaborate ball gowns or sequinned jackets, as these were the brands sartorial hallmarks. Their pieces are the perfect label for vintage party dresses and can be worn with ease and grace throughout the year.
If you want to nab a vintage Frank Usher, why not treat yourself to our Maria dress?