The Great Imposters

1970s, anello and davide, aquascutum, Beged'Or, Bermona, Borg, caroline baker, chelsea cobbler, Dada, Feathers, Herbert Johnson, jane whiteside, Jonvelle, kensington market, kurt geiger, laura ashley, Laura Jamieson, Lizzie Carr, Martha Hill, Mexicana, Mog, Morel, nova magazine, peter robinson, Russell & Bromley, Selfridges, stirling cooper, the souk, The Sweet Shop, velmar, Vintage Editorials, Wild Mustang Co.
Tissavel-lined Galaxy coat by Beged’Or approx. £50; cotton blouse by Mexicana, £13; fur fabric jeans by Newmans, 12 gns; hairy slipper boots at Russell & Bromley, £6 19s; velour hat by Bermona, £3 11s; hatband made from an Estonian tie at the Russian Shop, 7s 6d; fur bag at The Souk, £3 5s; wool gloves at Dickins & Jones, 10s:

Leather and fur get more expensive every year. It’s not only the taxes and rising costs of production. It’s just that there aren’t enough good animal skins for leather around to meet the consumer demand. Furs are there in quantity for the fabulously rich. Luckily a good substitute has been found – the nylon-spun, man-made sort. Some, especially in the leather field, are so like the real thing the only way you can tell the difference is by the smell. Take the white coat on pages 46 and 47. It’s fake and costs about £50. It has a double in real fur and leather for £270. Made by the same people who have duplicated most of their collection this way and it takes an eagle eye and nose to tell the difference. Others are just furry, woolly fabrics, obviously not imitating some four-legged friend, which is one of the nicest things about them. This fur fabric is now getting the treatment it deserves. Nairn Williamson (more famous for their Vinyl floor and wall coverings) were the first to see its potential and got six designers to use their Velmar fur fabric in their winter collections. Jane Whiteside for Stirling Cooper (new label getting famous fast for their beautiful jersey co-ordinates) was the cleverest of them all. She used the best sludgy colours, mixed it with needlecord to make a group of jackets and coats to go with trousers, skirts and blouses. Borg (American originated and the pioneers in England of this deep pile fabric) has been around for a long time, mostly on the inside of duffle and raincoats but it’s on the outside as a normal fabric that it looks its best. Next winter there will be a lot more of it around, now that designers are getting less snobby about plastics. Not only is it as warm as fur, it is, of course, much cheaper and you don’t smell like a wet dog when you come in from the rain, either. So you can wear it herding sheep on lost weekends, or in town queuing for the cinema without any guilt feelings about ruining your assets.

Insert obligatory ‘I don’t agree with the thrust of the argument for fake furs as just a financial consideration here’ caveat from me, your content provider. Don’t shout at me, basically. But it’s an interesting insight into the mindset of 1970, and the proliferation of fake furs and skins at that time. It’s also a breathtakingly styled and photographed work of art from Caroline Baker and Jonvelle.

Fashion by Caroline Baker.

Photographed by Jonvelle.

Scanned from Nova, January 1970.

Mediaeval velvet applique dress by Laura Jamieson at The Sweetshop, 20 gns; Tissavel and Galaxy waistcoat by Beged’Or, £22.
Velmar jacket and needlecord trousers by Stirling Cooper, £8 10s., £5 1Gs; leggings by Chelsea Cobbler, to order, 10 gns; cotton shirt from selection at Dada, Kensington Antique Market from 2 gns.
Acrilan jacket by Lizzie Carr approx. 24 gns; suede trousers by Morel, 17 gns, tied with leather strips from John Lewis Haberdashery Dept, 1s 10d per yard; wellingtons at Russell and Bromley, £3 19s; woven sash wrapped around neck at Herbert Johnson, 25s; velour hat by Bermona, £3 11s; wool gloves at Selfridges, &s 11d
Velmar and Courtelle trousers by Martha Hill, approx. 8 gns; poncho at Peter Robinson, £7; wool shirt by Stirling Cooper, £4 5s; studded wristlet by Knees at Kensington Antique Market, 1 gn; suede moccasin boots by Anello & Davide, £8 15s; velour hat by Bermona, £3 11s; sheepskin rug from The Souk from £3 19s 6d to £6; flask from Kensington Antique Market.
Velmar fur fabric floor length coat trimmed with canvas by Mog, £20, over long cotton nightgown by Laura Ashley, £5; knitted wool socks at Feathers, £1 1s 6d
Velmar coat with needlecord and zipper trims (top left) by Stirling Cooper, 18 gns; pale suede and leather lace-up boots by Kurt Geiger, 35 gns; wool gloves at Selfridges, 8s 11d; leather belt by The Wild Mustang Manufacturing Co., approx. £3 12s 6d; fur shepherdess hat, bag and drinking flask from a selection at Kensington Antique Market
Velmar jacket and needlecord trousers (top right) by Stirling Cooper, £12 19s 6d, £5 10s; big polo-neck ribbed Shetland wool sweater at Aquascutum, £6 15s; corrugated leather lace-up boots at Russell and Bromley, £29 19s; knitted Aran mitts at Selfridges, 16s 11d; velour hat by Bermona, £3 11s, furry bag from a selection at Kensington Antique Market.

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