Last Tango in Tijuana

1970s, antony price, che guevara, Dinah Adams, Dolcis, gillian richard, granny takes a trip, Herbert Johnson, Honey Magazine, Ian Batten, Inspirational Images, jean junction, Martha Hill, miss mouse, polly peck, rae spencer cullen, Roy A. Giles, Russell & Bromley, Samm, Spectrum, stirling cooper, Vintage Editorials, wallis

If you can’t tango, simply steal into the spotlight in these flamboyant rumba dresses. The slipped shoulder strap, the bared midriff and the full-blown flouncy skirts all spell out the sexiest numbers for summer.

The main difference between the content of a magazine like Honey, as opposed to Vogue or Queen, is that the designers tend to be the more intriguing and less well-known of the period. If you want names like Miss Mouse, Granny Takes a Trip or Antony Price, these magazines should always be your first port of call. This shoot alone features one of my Holy Grail pieces by Granny Takes a Trip: the ruffled tie front top and skirt ensemble designed by Dinah Adams. Previously a designer for two other cult London boutiques, Mr Freedom and Paradise Garage, painfully little is known about Dinah Adams (misattributed as ‘Diana’ in the original credits). Which is why it’s always lovely to see her work represented anywhere.

Also shown here is a frothy, frilly delight of a frock by Miss Mouse, a.k.a Rae Spencer-Cullen. A personal favourite of mine, the Miss Mouse aesthetic is precisely why this early Seventies period is my favourite for fashion. Her work was heavily Fifties-inspired, quite ahead of the curve in the scheme of things, but always with a novel twist. Spencer-Cullen is yet another designer whose life remains something of a mystery, despite being a part of a hugely influential circle which included artists Duggie Fields and Andrew Logan. It seems that this anonymity was (at least initially) intentional, as an article from the Glasgow Herald in 1976 declared.

“At first, six years ago, when presenting her quirky designs on fashion, she seemed shy and utterly retiring. Miss Mouse could not be contacted easily by the press. She was elusive, hazed in shadows, a real mouse about publicity in fact. The only evidence of her entire existence was her clothes.”

In a world where we are so used to having information at our fingertips, there is something quite enchanting about this; tiny scraps must be stitched together to create a flimsy silhouette of a creative genius.

Photographed by Roy A Giles.

Scanned from Honey, July 1973.

(Please note – this blog originally appeared in 2016 on Shrimpton Couture’s ‘Curated’ blog project which has since been removed. It seemed a shame to let the posts disappear completely so I hope to eventually repost all my work here.)

Rose-strewn wrapover cotton bolero and long frilled skirt from Spectrum. Raffia and cotton tie belt by Herbert Johnson. Right: Tightly ruched off-the-shoulder top and long skirt with deeply riched waistband from Wallis.
Ritzy ruffled satin bolero top with frilled skirt by Dinah Adams for Granny Takes a Trip. Wavy leather sandals by Samm. Right: Slinky spotted Tricel dress by Ian Batten at Stirling Cooper. Crackly taffeta long flounced skirt by Antony Price for Che Guevara. Wooden and patent sandals by Russell & Bromley.
Flouncy black and white gingham off-the-shoulder dress printed with orange and lemon flowers by Gillian Richard. Canary yellow sandals by Samm. Embroidered cummerbund by Herbert Johnson.
Swirling striped cotton skirt by Jean Junction. Off-the-shoulder pleated blouse by Martha Hill. Polished leather boots from Dolcis.
Black cotton ruched and flared rumba dress printed with multi-coloured flowers and birds by Miss Mouse. Apple green shoes by Russell & Bromley.

Left: Crisp cotton gingham blouse and flounced skirt both by Martha Hill. Oval bead choker and bangles by Paul Stephens. Right: Ruffled cotton check blouse and tiered skirt by Polly Peck. Cummerbund by Herbert Johnson. Shoes by Russell & Bromley.

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