Founded by Sir John Moores in Liverpool, the first Littlewoods catalogue was published in May 1932 and comprised 163 pages showing hand-illustrated images offering such items as flat irons and nickel-plated gas irons, each costing ten shillings (50p). In 1936, the Littlewoods mail order business recorded sales of more than £4 million. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength, with a host of big name stars from Jerry Hall to Joan Collins gracing the pages of Littlewoods catalogues over the years. Now one of the UK’s leading online department stores, on its 262nd catalogue and delivering more than 12 million parcels to customers every year, Littlewoods continues to play a key role in the lives of millions of families across the nation. Sales at its parent company Shop Direct Group hit £1.7 billion in 2012.
Coleen’s Littlewoods covers through the ages
1937: Right back to the formative years of Littlewoods in the 30s, when the cover image of the catalogue was still hand-illustrated, Coleen teams a curled blonde wig with a red skirt suit in this living room setting in Liverpool.
1947: Following the war, the late 40s become a real boom time for fashion in Britain. Wearing a fitted striped blue and white dress, Coleen captures the look of the time in this recreated 1947 catalogue cover. Fun fact: During World War II, thousands of men and women conducted their war service in the “Littlewoods Army”, which manufactured supplies at Littlewoods’ headquarters in Liverpool.
1955: From the decade that saw women’s fashion changed by stars such as Audrey Hepburn, this cover sees Coleen wearing a buttoned red coat with high black heels and standing in a Georgian house-lined street in 1955. Fun fact: Littlewoods sold out of TVs in 1952 due to the unexpected surge in demand for this new product.
1965: In an iconic era for female fashion, Coleen recreates this classic swinging Sixties look in a simple red woollen jumper and blonde bob wig. Fun fact: The popularity of the miniskirt peaked during the 60s as a result of celebrities like Twiggy embracing the trend, which saw it become Littlewoods’ best selling fashion item of the decade.
1971: In the most elaborate recreation of the shoot, Coleen dons a vintage white coat and brown suede high-heeled boots for this early 70s catalogue.
1982: Wearing a white snake t-shirt and sports shorts, Coleen effortlessly pulls off this 80s in this black and white shot. Fun fact: Fashion increased in popularity in the 70s and 80s at Littlewoods, with flares and shellsuits among the must-have clothing items of the times.
1991: The girl power movement of the 90s saw a host of A-list stars model for Littlewoods. None more so than Hollywood actress Jane Seymour in this purple cocktail dress and dramatic big hair from 1991. Fun fact: Littlewoods continued to grow in the 1990s and, by 2001, the company had become the second largest home shopping retailer in the UK.
2004: This traditional portrait shot from the 2000s not only shows how styles have changed but also allowed Terry O’Neill to display his trademark style of shooting to perfection.