Miranda Holland’s Designer Originals

1970s, Ace, anello and davide, John Carter, knitwear, Miranda Holland, Sacha, terry de havilland, topshop, Vintage Editorials
Deadly Nightshade, Musk Chartreuse, Coraline Jet

Another supreme example of amazingly styled and photographed late Seventies knitting patterns, further to my earlier Patricia Roberts appreciation post. I also immediately recognised those iconic Terry de Havilland zip-edged satin boots, which I’ve previously had in black and electric blue, seen photographed in pink and am now desperate to find the ice blue version!

Hair by Jane at Schumi.

Evening clothes from a selection at Ace.

Day clothes from a selection at Top Shop.

Shoes by Terry de Havilland and Sacha.

Ballet pumps and legwarmers from Anello & Davide.

Photographed by John Carter.

Not dated but I think c.1978/79.

Wild Catmint
Sweet Cicely
White Hoarhound
Almond Willow
Tumbling Mustard.
Downy Clover
Wild Catmint
Creamy Butterburr
Creamy Butterburr
Hatherleigh Rose, Mountain Currant

Inspirational Editorials: Tight Fit

1970s, Ace, betsey johnson, Caovilla, clive arrowsmith, Dansez, Fiorucci, Howie, Inspirational Images, manolo blahnik, Maxfield Parris, Rayne, Ritzy, topshop, Walter Steiger

Coat by Andrea Daimond. Yellow bodysuit by Fiorucci. Purple leather shoes by Manolo Blahnik.

Coat by Andrea Diamond. Yellow bodysuit by Fiorucci. Purple leather shoes by Manolo Blahnik.

I’m choosing to ignore the realness of the fur and just see these images as stunning tableaux portraying strong women in dominant poses. I hope you will too…

Photographed by Clive Arrowsmith. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Harpers and Queen, November 1979

Coat by Frank Cooney. Black long sleeve leotard and black footless tights by Dansez from Topshop. Black leather sandals by Manolo Blahnik

Coat by Frank Cooney. Black long sleeve leotard and black footless tights by Dansez from Topshop. Black leather sandals by Manolo Blahnik

Coat by Zwirn. Gold trousers and bustier by Ritzy. Red and gold leather shoes by Caovilla from Rayne.

Coat by Zwirn. Gold trousers and bustier by Ritzy. Red and gold leather shoes by Caovilla from Rayne.

Coat from Konrad. Skintight pink trousers and matching top by Betsey Johnson from Howie, 138 Long Acre. Metallic blue sandals by Walter Steiger.

Coat from Konrad. Skintight pink trousers and matching top by Betsey Johnson from Howie, 138 Long Acre. Metallic blue sandals by Walter Steiger.

Coat from National Fur Company. Strapless sequined top with skintight trousers from Ace. Black suede belt by Maxfield Parris. Black leather sandals by Manolo Blahnik,

Coat from National Fur Company. Strapless sequined top with skintight trousers from Ace. Black suede belt by Maxfield Parris. Black leather sandals by Manolo Blahnik,

Inspirational Editorials: Valentine – Show Stoppers!

1970s, chelsea girl, clobber, Inspirational Images, miss mouse, peter robinson, rae spencer cullen, Snob, topshop, Valentine, Vintage Editorials

The boy's stripey sweater and white Oxford bags are from Tramps. Price is £7.50 from Gary Elliott; Edwardia of Manchester; Paul Smith, Nottingham. the sweater cost £4 and also comes from Paul Smith, as well as the George Best shops, and Quincy of the Kings Road. The girl's outfit is from a selection by Miss Mouse at Peter Robinson.

The boy’s stripey sweater and white Oxford bags are from Tramps. Price is £7.50 from Gary Elliott; Edwardia of Manchester; Paul Smith, Nottingham. the sweater cost £4 and also comes from Paul Smith, as well as the George Best shops, and Quincy of the Kings Road. The girl’s outfit is from a selection by Miss Mouse at Peter Robinson.

Not really Valentine themed (unless you’re planning to spend your day at the circus, which would actually be a pretty good way to spend it…) but scanned from teeny girl magazine Valentine which is largely filled with comic strip stories aimed at hormonal young ladies. I bought it mainly because I recognised the garment on the front cover as a Miss Mouse/Rae Spencer Cullen with distinctive bow print. I’m also a sucker for the circus theme, which seems to be a recurring favourite for late Sixties/early Seventies fashion stylists…

Photographer uncredited. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Valentine, October 1972

Star studded satin blazer and trousers comes in a choice of navy or brown from main branches of Girl and Chelsea Girl.

Star studded satin blazer and trousers comes in a choice of navy or brown from main branches of Girl and Chelsea Girl.


Yellow satin blazer in various colours from the Separates Dept., Peter Robinson. Blue denim jeans with embroidered flowers sewn on them from the Top Shop at Peter Robinson.


Sterling Cooper yellow angora sweater at Peter Robinson. Silver satin mini skirt by Clobber. From branches of Snob boutique.


Snazzy red polka dot skirt is from a selection at branches of Girl. ‘Boob tube’ in red is also from Girl.

Far From the Madding Crowd

1970s, Ann Reeves, biba, british boutique movement, bus stop, Inspirational Images, irvine sellars, jeff banks, John Carter, lee bender, miss selfridge, mr freedom, peter robinson, petticoat magazine, topshop

Left to right: Dress, Jeff Banks, £9.90, P.R’s Top Shop. Dress, Ann Reeves, £9.25, Miss Selfridge,

Soft country girl dresses falling just below the knee in dark flowery prints ready for autumn, great for now. Looking sweet and old-fashioned with padded shoulders, sweetheart necklines or rever collars and cuffs – and all they really need is you and some romantic thoughts!

Very David Hamilton/Sarah Moon influenced shoot by John Carter. Scanned from Petticoat, July 1973.

Left to right: Beige dress, Jeff Banks, £9.90, Lady Tramp SW3. Mr Freedom hat, £2.50. Cream dress, Bus Stop, £9.95.

Left to right: Floral dress, Jeff Banks, £15.90, Irvine Sellars, sizal hat £2.50 from Biba. Black print dress, Ann Reeves, £9, Miss Selfridge.


Curious Coincidences: Wendy Brandes vs. Topshop

curious coincidences, jewellery, topshop, wendyB

Swear rings, Wendy Brandes (created 2008)

Swear rings, Topshop (2012)

How very, very curious.

Please check out Wendy’s original post here, and feel free to boycott Topshop in solidarity with a noble (I would never have reacted so calmly) and talented designer.

I get angry enough when they copy beloved vintage pieces, but this…

This post is brought to you by Miss Peelpants’s Curious Coincidences, it’s turning into quite the series!

Edited to note that Topshop have now removed the offending articles from sale with a decidedly formulaic apology.

Wet Stuff

alligator, che guevara, christopher mcdonnell, gordon king, Honey Magazine, monty coles, topshop, way in
No, no mild sauce prefix (arf arf!). It’s been rather damp in dear old Blighty lately, which has actually done the unthinkable/unbearable and forced me into actual shops where you buy actual new clothes (I needed some kind of trench-y raincoat thing and was starting to think I would have to wait forever to find the perfect vintage one I wanted) and obnoxious people push you away from the full-length mirrors and waft a disdainful hand at you (I kid ye not, my expression was pretty much the same as the photo immediately below…). Anyway, I’ve been meaning to scan this frankly awesome shoot from Honey magazine for simply ages. And given the current climate, it finally seemed very appropriate. 
Photos by Monty Coles. Honey magazine, February 1974

It’s a striking shoot. Rather modern-feeling (which just goes to prove that modern is rarely as modern as it seems…) and really affecting. Not emotionally, but physically. I can almost feel the models’ pain…

A long, long time ago…

1970s, celia birtwell, Illustrations, Ms Peelpants' rants, ossie clark, peter robinson, topshop, Vogue

…Topshop didn’t exist. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. It sprang from the loins of the Peter Robinson department store, which was originally located near the present Oxford Circus flagship site. Like a greedy devil child, it surpassed and devoured its progenitor.

This rant is brought to you by this gorgeous illustration from Vogue, April 1970. If only I could saunter up to Oxford Circus, enter an old-fashioned department store and buy myself such a delicious Ossie Clark dress today, I’d be a happy lady.

Biba, couture?

1960s, barbara hulanicki, biba, chelsea cobbler, helmut newton, observer magazine, topshop

Safari jacket, 80 gn with jodphurs, 75 gn with skirt. Hat (without veil) 22 gn. Sam Browne belt, 20 gn.

It’s a funny old world. One of the main reasons the regular Biba relaunches have failed so dismally, each time since 1975, has been the price issue. Barbara Hulanicki, whether you agree with her or not, has always had a firm belief in affordable, fast fashion. £200 for a middling quality dress, as seen in the most recent attempts to reignite the brand, is simply not acceptable in an age of fast, cheap fashion and quirky high-end designers with real personality and bite. To whom are they appealing? I’m afraid I judge people who buy House of Fraser Biba. I just can’t help myself. So there can be little or no cachet to buying that gear, from either Biba geeks or fashion freaks. And the quality isn’t good enough to be seen alongside the likes of Jaegar and Hobbs for the ‘medium’ level appeal.

Trousers and cardigan, 60 gn. Blouse 25 gn. Hat, 25 gn.

Biba was cheap, cheerful, young and undeniably cool. Nothing has come close. Primark has the prices, Topshop supposedly has the cool and youth, but none of them have the quality or uniqueness of their oft-copied ancestor. Yes, I said quality. Biba might have had a reputation for badly-made clothes but it simply wasn’t true. It was an assumption, based on the price. And fair enough, it wasn’t couture-quality, but it was no worse than anything being produced by Saint Laurent for his Rive Gauche, Ossie Clark and other British Boutique designers of the era. Certainly a cut above anything being made by many big name designers, these days.

My vintage Bibas are beautifully well-made. They couldn’t have survived forty-odd years otherwise. A seam might have deteriorated here, a small moth-hole appeared there, and perhaps a zip has busted after a particularly raucous night out. But I’ve seen Paris couture from a mere ten years earlier in a far sorrier state than that.

Dress, 100gn. Hat, 10gn.

So if shop-floor Bibas are still doing the trick after four decades, can you imagine what a couture Biba must have been like? And if Barbara was baulking at a higher-than-usual price tag for a voluminous jersey dress (which I own) and feared it wouldn’t sell (it sold out), then what on earth was she thinking about offering a coat for 120 guineas?

Coat, 120 gn. Helmet (without veil), 14 gn.

I had heard vague things about Biba couture over the years, but I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever seen anything like this article before. I do so wish I could see some Biba couture pieces now. The original owners must have remembered they were such, so I would hope that the provenance would be forever attached to the piece as it passed from careful owner to careful owner.

Dress, 110 gn.

Dreamy. And certainly not hindered by some incredible photos by the legendary Helmut Newton and footwear by The Chelsea Cobbler.

Observer Magazine, 19th January 1969.

Around the Bender

barbara hulanicki, biba, book reviews, british boutique movement, bus stop, kate moss, lee bender, seventies fashion, topshop

Ok so, I totally failed to take any photos from Friday night’s Lee Bender talk at the V&A. Mr Brownwindsor also failed to take any photos. My friends Daniel and David also failed to take any photos.

Conclusion: We were all in a daze.

And don’t even get me started on the fact that Mr Brownwindsor was sitting there chatting to Sylvia Ayton and I utterly failed to ask her to sign my Boutique book, which was sitting in my bag.

Conclusion: I’m useless.

However, I did get Lee Bender to sign my copy of her new book. And she recognised my nudey lady blouse immediately. Hurrah! Geek heaven…

I’m generally a bit squeaky and shy when it comes to asking questions in front of a huge audience of people. I can talk to a much admired designer up close and where only they witness my idiocy. But, after much cajoling beforehand, I realised I simply had to ask the question I’d been dying to ask since I wrote this blog [almost exactly] three years ago.

“How do you feel about being copied yourself* these days? Particularly with the Kate Moss for Topshop…..” I think I might have trailed off at this point because a look of thunder crossed her face. I squeaked inwardly, fearing I may have offended. But it turned out that she was just registering her anger at exactly the same thing that I had been angry about. She mentioned having seen a blog about it; I exclaimed that it was my blog, my dress. “Aha! I thought you looked familiar!”.

*She had spoken about her own experiences of taking inspiration from vintage pieces.

Tea dresses. So good. So widely copied.

Terrifyingly fabulous when you realise your idols actually see what you write about them. I had the same stomach flip when John Bates said he had seen my website. I often forget, and I ramble on about them in the same way I would ramble on about Ossie Clark, knowing full well I can’t offend him.

Anyway, the talk itself was great. Albeit not quite sufficient for a complete geek like me. Certain people (mainly my boyfriend) keep having to gently but firmly remind me that of course I’m not going to be satisfied with whatever book/documentary/q&a session I’m witnessing. I already know most of what they’re talking about. I’m seeking the finer details. Dates, times, people, evidence. Sadly, it’s the lot of the fashion historian.

Which is also my problem with the new Bus Stop book. On balance, I would say it’s definitely worth owning (the more I look at it, the less I see the flaws). And mine holds greater importance now it’s actually got her dedication inside. But it’s not the most gorgeously produced book in the world, the design/layout leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s a crying shame that it will probably be the only one we’ll see on Lee and her work.

A typical page.

The problem is limited resources. She didn’t keep anything (by her own admission – you should have heard the gasps when she mentioned donating things to charity a few years back) so mostly it is filled with her illustrations. Which are very lovely. But I’m a geek. And I need information laid out in timeline form, or at least vaguely timeline-ish, and I need dates on photos. I need better quality scans of photos. But again, I am being pernickety because quite a few of the magazine photos within are from magazines I already own and could scan myself (and clean them up a bit in photoshop).

There was limited research going on, and many things slipped under the radar. Par exemple…

It’s…… 1.) Sarah Jane’s Andy Pandy dungarees!

2.) Joanna Lumley's outfit from The New Avengers promotional photocall.

Oh yes. If books were produced by Miss Peelpants, they’d probably be the geekiest books in the world. But I’m not even being THAT geeky really. There are photos of Joan Collins and Barbara Bach in Bus Stop gear, presumably because those were the only ones they thought they had evidence of.

Also, there are so many Bus Stop fanatics and collectors out there; any of us would have been happy to have had our garments photographed professionally I’m sure.

My favourite part of the evening, weirdly, was the slight hint of anti-Bibaness. Which might surprise you, because I really do love Biba and Barbara Hulanicki and clearly am never afraid to express this through my blog and website. But I’m not unaware of her flaws. And I’m also starting to get a bit bored with the Biba dominance in coverage of the era.

As Lee herself, and others I chatted to afterwards, pointed out; Bus Stop clothes were made for women. Women with boobs and a bum. Barbara was designing for women with legs up to their armpits and no boobs. I don’t have the most generous bosom in the world, but Biba squishes me out in all directions sometimes. I appreciate the boldness of that as a design decision (the flagrant “if you’re not this shape, tough, you’ll wear the clothes and hope they make you look that shape” attitude) but it doesn’t always work when you need your clothes to work. Which is why I’m always wittering on about Lee Bender making wearable gear; she just WAS.

The actual rivalry with Biba was touched on, she told a brief story about both her and Barbara ending up in the same Kensington restaurant one night and being kept well apart by their companions, but this just made me even more sad. Biba gets two or three books, glossily and hard-backedly dedicated to the high altar of art deco fabulousness. Bus Stop will probably only ever get this one, making it look like the ‘also-ran’ it never was. But I’m immensely glad it even exists, quite frankly.

Someone (preferably not Topshop, although they owe her big time) needs to give Lee Bender the opportunity to design a new range of clothes. Hulanicki’s range for Topshop was such a crushing disappointment; I would dearly love to see someone who REALLY wants to do it, and isn’t just ‘phoning it in’, making a huge success with fresh, wearable designs and an understanding of women’s bodies.


High Street Shopping = Hell

Ms Peelpants' rants, topshop

En route back from the dentist [oh yeah, I have to have yet another wisdom tooth removed. Score will now be Removed Wisdom Teeth: 5, Remaining Wisdom Teeth: 1. Am toothsome freak.], I actually ventured into the shops. It felt weird. I felt a bit shaky. I started to hate people again. I really don’t hate people at all, I’m always happy to be chatting to someone new and I’m always polite to anyone I meet. But I hate people when they shop.

I think I’m just spoilt now. I’m pretty much entirely vintage orientated (around 95% if you will) except for a handful of modern things for which I run in, squeak, pick up, buy and run out again. I cannot deal with changing rooms; I haven’t bought new jeans in a good couple of years for this reason. If the queue for the till is more than four people I put things down and run out again. In fact, I did that with two pairs of sunglasses today. I know my measurements off by heart, so why on earth should I have to take three different sizes in each piece I’m interested in into the changing rooms because shops can’t get a grip on sizing?

My heart sinks when I see a rail full of the same thing. Or things clubbed together to create this season’s ‘look’. Where’s the fun in that? The sudden vogue for stripes makes me (Queen of Stripes) want to bung mine in a box until they’ve all gone away. [I’m alarmed by the sudden belly top phenomenon. Can it really be over 15 years since I craved such things myself? Cheap nylon ra-ra skirts and belly tops make me want to take a pair of scissors to the rails of the high street. And they’d look much better for it.]

See? Spoilt. Utterly.

I expect the thrill of the unknown, of the great discovery just around the corner. I’m also spoilt in that, when I am expected to enter proper shops with friends, I can at least window shop in comfort in Westwood or wherever. The prices might make my eyes water, but there’s all sorts of varied, well made pieces which make my heart skip a beat and aren’t made from 100% polyester. The staff are bonkers and lovely, and want to smooch your backside just to make a sale (makes a change from surly teenagers in Topshop, non?). And you can be sure I’ll be heading straight home to check out ‘ending soonest’ eBay auctions for Westwood; it takes the edge off the tears of poverty. Boohoo.

Today I was really quite shocked. Have things got worse on the high street, or have I just been away too long? Sizing issues are definitely getting worse (and I can tell purely from looking at them, nothing was going to induce me into a changing room…), prices are pretty ridiculous for quality no better than Primark. Who I loathe, but at least their prices are honest in relation to the quality.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who browses websites, like Topshop.com, thinks ‘ooh, that’s kinda nice’ then goes in store and cannot restrain an involuntary and very audible ‘bleurghhhhhh’ when they actually pick it off the rail. See above. £50 for a viscose Ossie copy? Viscose used to be nice. Some of my favouritest Jeff Banks pieces have been viscose. It felt like a walking fire hazard. And no amount of Sure would rescue you from sweating like a bitch in it. What’s wrong with these people??

The worst thing of all, though, is the fabric. Even when you might possibly find something in a natural fibre, more often than not, it’s been lined in polyester. Or the nastiest stretch nylon. Errrr…..why? Why not just line in cheap cotton? At least then you can just wash and iron to your heart’s content and your skin will be able to breathe. A couple of frocks I contemplated buying, with the intention of hacking out the aforementioned ny-lining. Then I caught myself and slapped my own wrist. £25 for something I’m going to have to alter to make it wearable? Kill me now. I should be mooching around vintage shops for something which looks the same and won’t make me boil in the bag.

That said, it’s not all bad. Topshop offered up a black bodysuit which will go nicely with a whole host of gorgeous vintage skirts I already own (and surely some I have yet to acquire) and I’ve fallen in love with a pair of shoes in M&S. They’re wildly impractical (Wedges? Shiny? Colour block? They won’t go with anything, my feet will sweat and I’ll probably fall over! I must be brave and resist temptation to buy the safer blue version. I might as well buy these gorgeous blue buckled heels.) but I love them. And they look much better on a foot than these photos make them look, I can assure you.

I had to physically remove myself from the temptation and be going back when I’ve thought about it good and proper. Because, frankly, my heart really wants to buy these
Terry De Havillands from TinTrunk’s Etsy shop:

In conclusion: High Street Shopping is hell. Vintage is best. Westwood is a goddess.