Exploring the turn of the Century stories of Cowgirls for the first collection of SOMERVILLE takes us over the Atlantic to the Western American territories such as Montana, Texas and Oklahoma. The workwear staples of jeans and shirts that came out ranch living is well known, but there’s a forgotten narrative about the pioneer ladies of the Wild West.
It was here that self styled sharpshooters, women like Bertha Blancett and ‘Queen of the Range’, Lucille Mulhall showed that they were a match for any man. These distinctive women were different to their urban sisters, with their outstanding riding and shooting skills they blazed a trail for the beginnings of a new kind of feminism.
Annie Oakley made it a personal mission to ensure that every woman she knew could load and shoot a rifle and helped many into employment and independence with her earnings, advocating a new active feminism on the back of her own hard won success.
Clothing wise, the Cowgirls adapted what was a given for the men rounding up horses and managing the Rodeo, and tailored it for themselves. They eschewed the demure side-saddle, riding split leg in trousers or gaucho pants. Gingham and plaid cottons - farmworker fabrics - were cut up and tied into bandanas and neck ties. Shirts were altered given feminine frills or quirky detailing. This is where we got our inspiration for the first collection, upping the decadence by recrafting the plaids, motifs and neckties in silk.
Cowgirls were women who could speak up and out, take a stand and take no excuses. They have become synonymous with a spirit not just a career. And so we find cowgirls amongst modern women as they strive to achieve in their own worlds, whether that’s ranching, attorneys, astronauts. We salute them.