This is the moment for evening clothes that feel as delicious as they look… they’re soft voile or fine jersey or crushed muslin, they’re cut out over suntanned backs and arms, they’re crisp cotton printed with cottage curtain flowers, they’re as easy to wear as nightdresses: and some of them are.
Photographed at Lake Windermere and the Beech Hill Hotel, Cartmel Fell.
The main attraction of this summer’s printed dress is their little-girl, Sunday-best quality. The star fabric is floral crepe-de-Chine, now beautifully revived, featuring softly shaped skirts, Peter Pan collars and puff sleeves.
Another flawless example of early Seventies nostalgia for the Thirties and Forties, which might seem frivolous or twee if it wasn’t in the talented hands of Mr Peccinotti.
Slip a shawl over summer and dream the days away in a land of your imagination. There couldn’t be a more beautiful way of letting a long sticky heatwave slip by than with these gentle colours made by a bleaching sun and these homespun clothes in soft country shapes. Whether you make it all the way to a shady plantation or just as far as the nearest cornfield, the scenery around any home this summer should look pretty good. Build up layers of cotton checs, sand suede overslips and warm rainbow knit waistcoats because even the sun can havee tantrums sometimes. Pack a pair of laced sandals and one huge-brimed straw hat.
This autumn there are bags everywhere: Oxford ones on your pins and clutch ones in the hand. The return of the straight trouser has brought with it wing lapelled jackets with padded shoulders and neat waistcoats. Underneath, a feminine touch to soften the butch look, blouses with floppy painters’ bows. And don’t forget your clutch bag tucked neatly under your arm.
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.
This year you match your make-up to what you are wearing rather than to the colouring you were born with. Now, with the much greater variety of colours available, it is no longer blue for blue eyes, green for green eyes; or pink and white for blondes and gold-rachel tones for brunettes. You can have a new look for every day of the week, or different looks for day and night. In fact, you match your make-up to your clothes.
To show how much scope there is, we have taken one girl and given her three different make-ups created for each of this season’s new fashion colours.
Make-up for white by Serge Lutens. Make-up for Pink and Green by Mary Lou of The Face Place.
Hair by Pauline of Michaeljohn.
Photographed by James Wedge.
Scanned from Harpers and Queen, early October 1971.
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.
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.)
Originality being one of the spices of life, isn’t it about time you did a bit of gentle artwork on some of your plainer clothes? We appliquéd satin designs on unadorned cotton T-shirts, but if you haven’t the patience to appliqué clouds with silver linings, how about tie dye instead?
Hoping this gives some inspiration to keep yourself occupied and looking groovy over the next weeks and months of isolation! In all seriousness, I hope all my dear readers are safe and well. Since my Vintage business is on ice for a little while, I have brought magazines home to scan and hope to keep you entertained and offer some escapism (plus there are years of archives to get through!). There will probably be extra stuff over on my Instagram as well so do go and follow me there.
(Instructions on how to copy these designs are at the bottom of the post.)