No wallflowers! Models wearing iconic wallpaper dresses perk up London’s streets as heritage brands enjoy an overseas sales boost

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A parade of stylish models is enough to make anyone look up from their morning commute.

But the stylish printed dresses these ones were wearing came with a twist – they are made entirely out of wallpaper.

Designed by iconic 1960s designer and Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki, the dress stunt was to promote international wallpaper week and Britain’s thriving firms.

Pretty in prints: The models were wearing dresses made entirely out of wallpaper

The idea was dreamt up to champion Britain’s wallpaper industry at home and overseas, as part of an initiative backed by high-profile designers such as Barbara, Kelly Hoppen, Julien Macdonald and Wayne Hemmingway.

And Britain’s heritage wallpaper brands have plenty to celebrate at the moment. The industry generates sales of around £250million in the UK, and is part of a global market worth around £8.3 billion – that’s the equivalent of 600 million rolls.

British wallpaper brands such as Osborne & Little and Graham & Brown have won a strong global following, with the latter exporting to 75 countries.

And the wallpaper industry could get an export boost. The tumbling value of the pound since Brexit has increased the appeal of British products to foreign buyers who can now buy cheaper.

The most recent statement from Osborne & Little showed the company anticipated an overseas sales boost from the falling pound.

The board said: ‘In the short term there will be limited impact resulting from the UK leaving the EU, but if exchange rates stay as they are, in particular, the exchange rate between sterling and the US dollar, then there will be a material benefit in the year ending 31 March 2018’

On a roll: The wallpaper-clad models cause a stir on the tube

Osborne & Little was established in the late 1960s by former Chancellor George Osborne’s father Peter Osborne with his brother-in-law Antony Little, who also designed Biba’s famous black and gold logo.

The duo first opened a shop on Chelsea’s King’s Road, in the heart of the swinging 60s scene and their designs have a distinctly British, retro feel.

London calling: Posing outside Tower Bridge

The company has long been popular abroad, with Bill and Hillary Clinton decorating their private White House apartment with wallpaper from the company during the 1990s.

Graham & Brown’s heritage stretches back even further.

The wallpaper company was established in 1946 by Harold Graham and Henry Brown who set out to brighten the homes of dreary postwar Britain.

Seven decades on, the family-run business is still based in Blackburn and boasts total sales of £75million.

Wallpaper dates back to the 18th century, but was originally the preserve of the very rich.

It was the Victorians who democratised it through mass production in the 19th century, by the likes of William Morris

And today, Victorian and Edwardian styles are actually back in fashion thanks to the ‘Downton effect’ – due to the popularity of TV drama Downton Abbey – heavy on patterns, prints and textures,