Tighten your belts – Conspicuous waist

1950s, 1970s, biba, british boutique movement, dorothee bis, Escalade, Eva Sereny, Fiona Lewis, Inspirational Images, sunday times magazine

Sweater by Biba and belt by Fenwicks

One of my favourite fashion shoots of, ooh, forever, I have no idea why I have only just got round to scanning it in. This look appeals to me more and more every time I look at it. Part of what I love about the Seventies is the way they were influenced by the styles of earlier eras, and yet the result is always so perfectly Seventies and, inexplicably, preferable to the original. Speaking for myself, anyway…

Photographed by Eva Sereny. Scanned from The Sunday Times Magazine, October 1972

“At the Paris winter collections no-one seemed to have any scruples about cribbing from the Fifties. However, Dorothée Bis, one of the most influential ready-to-wear designers, did it better than anybody else because the clothes managed to look far sexier than they ever did at the time. Big baggy men’s department sweaters; jackets and coats, swagger-backed or lumberjack style, in cloth or fake fur; tight skirts hobbled over seamed lurex tights – in fact, everything that could be worn with a waspie belt like the one shown here, giving more shape tot he shapely and hope to the straight. On the cover and on these pages actress Fiona Lewis shows how she wears waist-clinchers.”

Sweater and belt from Biba

Sweater is model’s own, belt from Biba

Waspie from Escalade

Waspie and felt skirt by Biba

Inspirational Images: Brigitte Bardot in Cannes, 1953

1950s, brigitte bardot, cannes, headscarves, Inspirational Images

Brigitte and companion in Cannes, circa 1953

Brigitte rocking the headscarf look here, in an unusual candid shot.

I can’t help but love her as a brunette. Her very early period (seen here) and her later Sixties, early Seventies looks are my favourites. I resisted the Bardot love for a long while because it seemed such a cliché. I mean, who doesn’t cite her as an inspiration? But she’s a hard one to fight…

Scanned from Woman’s Mirror, May 1962

The men behind the frocks

1950s, digby morton, hardy amies, john cavanagh, john french, victor stiebel

John Cavanagh

Ahhhh, so I didn’t get a nomination for the Cosmo blog awards. I didn’t think I would, but I do wish that these lists would incorporate blogs with a bit more personality beyond whatever the PR companies are sending them this week. In case anyone objects to my slightly waspish tone, there is no one on the fashion list who is also on my reading list. Or who follows me, that I know of. Or who I’ve ever heard of. And I am prone to sweeping generalisations when I choose. My blog, my rules.

Me, I acquire paper cuts from 32-year-old fashion reference books just so I can bring you weird and wonderful photos of weird and wonderful clothes and people. I guess I’m a bit niche, which is totally fine by me. And I rarely show my face.

Other people who didn’t have much of a public face were designers of the past. Particularly the male ones who wouldn’t have looked much good in their own designs, unlike a lot of female designers. Before the cult of celebrity started to infect fashion designers, the likes of Hardy Amies and Victor Stiebel were happy to let their frocks do the talking. No eyeliner, eye-patches or black lace fans for them, oh no.

So it’s rather delightful when you come across a little feature such as this one, from Prudence Glynn’s In Fashion book from 1978. Three of the photos are by John French, and the Digby Morton is thrown in for good measure. I’m always fascinated to see the face behind the frocks; it can be rather astonishing to test out your own preconceptions.

Hardy Amies

Victor Stiebel

Digby Morton

Bathing Beauty

1950s, ebay listings, sixties, swimwear

Amazing 1950s ruched swimsuit by ‘Slix’.

Just a quickie post to inform you that I’ve just listed three gorgeous swimsuits over on eBay.

1960s cut-out psychedelic swimsuit by ‘Palmers’.

1950s electric blue satin bathing costume

I can’t play tennis, my golf’s a menace…

1950s, films, jane russell, marilyn monroe, musicals

The other weekend, when Senti and Charley were in town, we wiggled along to the South Bank to watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with my friend Laura (with whom I have regularly duetted, drunkenly and soberly; in public and in private, in brilliant renditions of Just Two Little Girls from Little Rock and When Love Goes Wrong…) which has formed part of their ‘Blonde Crazy’ film season.

I was genuinely astonished by the quality and clarity of the print they were showing. There were all kinds of details I had missed on years of ropey VHS copies and even my current DVD. Background artistes, details on costumes…. But most noticeable was how utterly camp and ridiculous the Olympic athletes look in Jane Russell’s big number, Ain’t There Anyone Here For Love, to which I was newly alerted by the giggles around me in the cinema. I have been watching this film since I was about 10. I never batted an eyelid at their flesh-tone swimming trunks and I certainly never noticed the borderline pornographic incident which occurs at 2.40 in the following clip….

I’m a huge Marilyn Monroe fan, and always take on her huskier tones in my duets with Laura, but I also just realised how much Jane steals the show. She’s raucous, sharp, hilarious and [controversially] probably a hell of a lot sexier than the blonde.

“The chaperone’s job is to make sure no one else has any fun. But nobody chaperones the chaperone. That’s why I’m so right for this job.”