Following Gaudi’s thought “to be original, return to the origin”, following it down to Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire where William Fox Talbot invented the camera, Norman Parkinson photographed eight dresses conjured from pure air and gauze.
This is like an album where every song is a certified banger. From the model, to the frocks, to the photographer, to the photographer he’s referencing, everything is flawless. Except that I don’t own all these dresses.
Square necked sideless dress by Ginger Group. Gold link belt by Paris House. Black patent shoes by Kurt Geiger. Satin beret by Rudolf.
Try a touch of seasonal sorcery – swop clothes with yourself instead of with your sister or friend. Mix tweed with satin, sweaters with fur; play addition and subtraction with your wardrobe to achieve subtle solutions for every climate, every occasion and every mood.
Photographed by David Anthony.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Queen, December 1967
Square necked sideless dress by Ginger Group. White blouse by Eric Hart. Tortoiseshell and gilt link belt by Dior. Brown shoes by Kurt Geiger. Brown knitted beret at Fenwick.
Oxford bags by Gerald McCann in Donegal tweed with detatchable black satin turn-ups. Black satin shirt by Eric Hart. Black patent belt by Mary Quant. Black patent shoes by Kurt Geiger.
Oxford bags by Gerald McCann in Donegal tweed with detatchable black satin turn-ups. Brown and tweed long belted sweater from Browns. Antique Baltic amber beads from Sac Freres. Knitted brown beret at Fenwick. Beige and black ankle boots by Ravel.
Short white fluffy kid coat by Calman Links, with white fox collar and white satin belt. Diamante drop earrings by Dior. Square diamante handbag by Susan Handbags. White grosgrain strap shoes by Russell and Bromley.
Short white fluffy kid coat by Calman Links, with white fox collar. Round-necked chocolate sweater by Laura Jamieson, with long sleeves, buttons down back, and matching ribbed skirt. Tortoiseshell and gilt belt by Dior. Stretch brown leather boots by Kurt Geiger.
Black velvet trouser suit by Carrot on Wheels. Cream silk shirt by Annacat. Square snakeskin handbag by Russell and Bromley. Black patent shoes by Kurt Geiger. Black velvet hair bow by Dior.
Black velvet trouser suit by Carrot on Wheels. Beige polo necked sweater by McCaul. Black belt with perspex buckle by Dior. Leather shoes by Charles Jourdan.
Celia Hammond with Mrs Hammond. Born in Indonesia. Says she was ‘quite plump’ when she first walked into Lucy Clayton’s. “I started losing weight when I stopped worrying about it.” Confesses that she’s been in modelling so long that these days the money is the main attraction.
Celia’s dress by Jean Muir
Photographed by Guy Cross. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from The Daily Telegraph Magazine, November 22nd 1968.
Hylette Adolphe with Mrs Terese Adolphe. Born in Mauritius, convent-educated. Finds modelling “very hard and a bit depressing, but on the whole quite nice.” Recently in Corfu, where she had to learn to ride a Roman chariot for a German swimwear ad. Found it “quite terrifying”.
Hylette’s dress by Hylan Brooker to order from Worth Related Couture.
Paulene Stone with Mrs Sylvia Stone. After leaving school with six O-levels, she won a competition in a women’s magazine, part of the prize being a modelling course. She says she always wanted to be a model. “Apparently, I was always talking about it when I was a little girl.”
Pauline’s outfit by Simon Massey at Wallis.
Sandra Paul with Mrs Rosalie Paul. Born in Malta, where her father was an RAF doctor. Decided against going to university and instead she took a course at Lucy Clayton’s. Says about modelling that “in a funny way you enjoy it the more experienced and adaptable you become.”
Sandra’s dress by Marrian-McDonnell
Sarah Stuart with Mrs Croker Poole. Born in India, Sarah Stuart was educated in England and Paris (“no make-up lessons; we worked hard at French, history and commerce”). Took up modelling when her marriage broke up. Says it’s hard work – “getting up early, packing heavy cases…”
Sarah’s trouser suit by Gerald McCann at Vanessa Frye.
Left: Coat by Young Jaeger. Trousers by Angela at London Town. Shirt by James Drew. Striped waistcoat at Bus Stop. Right: Borg jacket by Gerald McCann. Angora trousers by Mary Farrin. Socks by Mary Quant. Clogs by The Chelsea Cobbler at Russell and Bromley.
Photographed by Elisabeth Novick. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vanity Fair, October 1971
Left: ‘Monkey’ jacket by Gordon King. Checked Oxford bags by Bus Stop. Shirt from Bus Stop. Authentic Forties head by Zapata. Veiling from Biba. Right: Short furry jacket from Wallis. Trousers from C&A. Shirt from James Drew. Hand-knitted waistcoat from Bus Stop.
Seems the diabolical month of January has given the world something of a February hangover. I just want the world to be filled with beautiful, sparkly things. I offer you sparkly Biba and Stirling Cooper, psychedelic perfection, mod heaven, sultry Biba blues and vibrant Varonishness. Amongst other things, of course. Enjoy!
Gerald McCann (click to view listing)
Angela Gore (click to view listing)
Betty Barclay (click to view listing)
Act III (click to view listing)
Biba (click to view listing)
Onzeur Trant (click to view listing)
Detail of amazing pink moss crepe dress (click to view listing)
Amongst the many new items I have just listed over at Vintage-a-Peel, is a superb piece by Gerald McCann. I have a huge fondness for McCann’s designs, and he was pretty easy on the eye as well.
Gerald McCann dress at Vintage-a-Peel. A snip at £85.
My own Gerald McCann dress was exhibited at the V&A in 2006 and remains one of my favourite pieces (although the size of my bum prevents me from wearing it, much like my beloved early Ossie Clark piece). I also have a beloved faux fur pea coat which has seen me through many a cold spell and pretty much goes with anything.
Similar coat scanned from Boutique by Marnie Fogg.
Thankfully he was also heavily featured in Marnie Fogg’s book Boutique, and the V&A hold an interview with him in their archives, so his place in the history books is somewhat more assured than many other ‘lost’ designers.
"The Young Individualist Thinks Nobody Can Like McCann Can". McCann's designs in the window of Lord and Taylor in New York. Scanned from Boutique by Marnie Fogg.
My dress, beautifully photographed by the V&A
McCann designs illustrated. Scanned from Boutique by Marnie Fogg.
I was also delighted to find a rare bit of footage of the great man himself from 1967. It was a slightly convoluted journey to get there; an email from the lovely Miss Rayne got me searching for a certain Ann Ladbury, which then led to the BBC’s new Archive website. Turns out that Ann Ladbury was involved with a programme called Clothes That Count, and episodes from 1967 and 1969 were available to view. Each episode approached a different aspect of clothing, helping viewers to create their own versions at home, and each episode would have a guest designer. Lo and behold, who should have appeared in December 1967 but Gerald McCann!
I do hope that the BBC archives are viewable outside the UK, although I have my doubts, and that you can all follow this link and enjoy. Mr McCann first puts in an appearance at around 21:45, if you can’t be doing with all the home dressmaking malarkey early on…. I particularly love that he admits he can’t set a sleeve!
Veering a little off my normal and natural course with some more recent vintage on eBay at the moment, but I couldn’t resist! Firstly, some may find it heinous but I actually think it’s rather fab and a cut above the usual of this type…..
Since I’m distinctly unimpressed with the myspace blog facility, I thought I’d repost my images from the V&A Swinging Sixties Exhibition over here. The John Bates exhibition opens on the 13th July so I shall attempt to get photos of that too.
Pussy Galore of Carnaby Street
Gerald McCann mini dress with peter pan collar
John Bates for Jean Varon White PVC mini dress
Annacat Pink Velvet Mini dress
John Stephen of Carnaby Street Psychedelic Mob Cap
Cathy McGowan’s Boutique Pink and Purple Suede shoes
What baffles me is the inverse ratio between the rarity of Foale and Tuffin, and the prices they command. I think Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin were arguably a greater talent than Mary Quant. And they certainly knew when to call it quits and draw back gracefully from the fashion world (they both ‘retired’ in 1973 to spend more time with their families). Licensing? They wouldn’t have dreamed of it. Yes, MQ, I’m looking at you in your waterproof poncho – don’t think I can’t see you! 😉
Their early work was vibrant, youthful, fun and always exquisitely tailored. They originated trouser suits for women (yet another creative theft by Yves Saint Laurent ensured they rarely get credited for this – more rantings on him some other time…), used the ‘op art’ trend in a quirky way (rather like my other passion, John Bates) and helped build the Carnaby Street image – the driving force behind the emergence of Britain as a world leader in fashion.
They moved easily into the softer look of the late 60s and early 70s, continuing to favour Liberty prints and did all sorts of lovely frilled and flared things. In retrospect, their decision to quit in 1973 seems really rather intelligent. The mid-late 70s saw the crash and burn phenomenon of so many designers, Ossie Clark and Barbara Hulanicki at Biba being the most notable casualties. So they got out at the right time.
Their work is fairly rare. Goodness only knows why, you can hardly miss the label! They were a popular fixture in Vogue and a big part of the Youthquake British Invasion of the USA in 1965.
Two Foales from my private collection. 1963 and 1965 respectively.
However, in recent months (after loudly bemoaning the non-existence of ANY F&T pieces in my personal collection) I seem to have accumulated a nice little collection of their work. I still sit here, look at the frocks and think; “How the HECK did I manage that?”. I have my limits as to how much I will pay for pieces for my collection, it’s just that the prices have been shockingly low for what they are. Even the recent Kerry Taylor auctions sale for Sothebys sold two Foale and Tuffin frocks (early 70s) for the opening bid of £100. I recall one of the major US auction houses sold two Foales not that long ago for a similar price.
So, while I can’t complain on a personal level that the prices aren’t really reflecting the rarity and beauty of their work – it does seem utterly wrong. Mary Quant’s work is fairly cheap these days – especially considering her cultural importance. But F&T didn’t license their names to death. So in reality, they should be making a whole lot more.
Just a little rant. I feel much the same way about Gerald McCann. I guess I’ll just have to keep collecting these labels rather than selling them! *sigh*