Contemporary Wardrobe by Sheila Rock

1950s, 1960s, 1980s, Contemporary Wardrobe, Inspirational Images, menswear, Sheila Rock, The Face, Vintage Editorials
Ramona Mo-Dette by Sheila Rock

1959: Ramona/Bright Young Thing. Influences: Vogue, Irving Penn, High Society, Barbara Golan, Paris couture. Ivory plant pot hat; ivory silk abstract rose print dress; ivory leather handbag; ivory leather fake lizard stilettos; tortoise-shell cigarette holder; white make-up and vivid red lipstick. To be seen around town, having tea at Fortnum & Mason or the Savoy.

“Contemporary Wardrobe, run by Roger Burton from a warehouse at London Bridge, fit up the stars of small and big screen. They specialise in clothes from 1945 to the present day, supplying outfits and accessories to customers in movies, TV, video, commercials, theatres and advertising agencies,, with some private hiring for parties, posing and…well, that’s their business. The clothes in Quadrophenia came from Contemporary Wardrobe; others have been on hire to Not The Nine O’Clock News, Minder, The Professionals, Dreams of Leaving, The Kenny Everett Video Show, The History Man, Shoestring and Mackenzie. Thy have also kitted out Freeez, Secret Affair, M, Wings and Judas Priest for Top of the Fops and promotional videos, and clothed the sleeves of Motorhead, Girlschool, Marianne Faithfull and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Most other huge collection is authentic, as are all the clothes and the majority of accessories in these photos commissioned, clothed, posted and photographed specially for The Face by Sheila Rock. CW also offer a research department to assist styling and offer technical advice an an express service to reproduce garment or outfits or specific projects. Couldn’t they do something about Doyle’s jackets an Bodie’s flairs [sic]?”

Before there was vintage, there were just old clothes! Superb shoot by Sheila Rock for The Face, June 1981.

John Cooper Clarke by Sheila Rock

1967: John Cooper Clarke/Regency Beau. Influences: elegance, Beau Brummel, Brian Jones, Town Magazine, LSD. Claret velvet suit hand-tailored; pink frilly shirt by John Stephen; patent spat boots by Bally; paisley cravat, crucifix ,cameo, birds foot brooch, jet beads ,silver top cane ,gloves, white make-up, mascara and back combed hair all essential to create the Look for promenading Carnaby Street and Portobello Road to acquire the odd fairground horse or exotic sign from Trad Alices or Lord Kitchener’s Valet. Photo taken at Trad Antiques in Portobello Road

Ranking Roger by Sheila Rock

1950: Ranking Roger/Zoot. Influences: Charlie Parker, the Zou-Zou movement in France, Puerto Rican chic, Wyatt Earp. Grey bird’s eye double breasted Zoot suit; eau-de-nil impressed cotton shirt; brown velour homburg; slim red bow tie; white buckskin brogues by Lillywhites; silver watch chain, silver key chin. Characters wearing this look could be seen around smoky jazz clubs and pool halls all through the ’40s and early ’50s in Harlem. Now adapted by the Chicanos in South America, who rive around in Low Rider cars of the period.

Funny Googles: Style on Trial

1950s, 1960s, john bates, paraphernalia

“why is stuart maconie presenting style on trial?”

Why indeed dear reader, why indeed. I’ve asked myself the same question, many times.

Has anyone else in the UK been following the programme? The Fifties episode was an absolute car crash of an hour (no offence to Kerry Taylor who is lovely, and knows her stuff. But David Sassoon? That over-excited blonde woman??) They clearly ran out of things to talk about roughly 20 minutes into the programme, and then simply wittered on about Paris, Paris, Paris. London got a hard enough time, but at least it got a mention. But America? Only your style icons got a mention, none of your designers. Where was McCardell? Where was Galanos? Honestly, it’s the most poorly researched piece of fluffy nonsense I’ve ever seen.

Then the Sixties one was only really interesting because of Mr Bates. They [frustratingly] skirted around the mini issue, admitting only that he was doing the shortest, and Mary Quant’s name only got a tactful silence from Bates even when the others were waxing lyrical. Although I did get my chance to have a good giggle when they were discussing the Parisian designers doing the ‘space age’ look, only to have JB murmur ever-so-politely, and I’m paraphrasing slightly here, “Well, I did it first”.

I did wonder why he wasn’t sitting in the centre of the two ladies, as had happened on the previous two shows for the male contingent of the panel. Then I noticed that it would have meant having Ms. Quant’s beeg heed right behind him and in shot every time the camera was on him. That illicited a smile from me as well.

But I certainly learned nothing of any note. Except two things from JB.

1. Mr Fish designed the frilly dress and trousers Mick Jagger wore in 1969 (like many, I suspect, I was under the misapprehension that this was an Ossie).

2. I should never, under any circumstances, wear an Afghan coat in the presence of Mr Bates. Not that I actually own one, or aspire to own one, but it’s a good thing to know.

Again they also spectacularly failed to mention any of the iconic American designers. Gernreich wasn’t mentioned, neither was the Paraphernalia boutique….they simply dismissed America as being massively behind London and Paris and seemingly worthless of any comment. Now I’m very much a British-orientated vintage fashionista, but I’d much sooner have a Gernreich/Paraphernalia piece than a Cardin/Rabanne/Courreges piece. Perhaps that’s strange, but I find their approach more interesting.


1950s, horrockses, website listings

Permission to wax lyrical about this gorgeous gown from Horrockses, please Miss! It’s possibly one of the most beautiful 1950s evening gowns I’ve ever seen, definitely the most beautiful Horrockses thus far (but it’s a close call between some other lovelies I’ve had/have). Not only is it beautifully draped and fitted around the bodice, not only is the print reminiscent of watered silk gowns from the 18th Century, but it has the most technically brilliant drape of fabric up the back and attached to the single shoulder strap. The drape is completely integral to the fabric of the skirt which gives such a beautiful flow up and down the back of the dress.

Then they go and top it off with a big don’t-mess-with-me bow! All this, and it’s entirely made of cotton so you can just chuck it in the washing machine when you get back from your swishy do! It feels amazing to wear pure cotton in summer, so imagine how smug and cool you’ll feel while all around you are sweltering in man-made fibres! 😉

Before World War II, Horrockses manufactured printed cottons for the thriving home dressmaking industry. In the 1950s, with a demand for affordable ready-to-wear pieces in the wake of Dior’s New Look, they started producing their own collections of daydresses, eveningwear and beachwear. In the era of rationing, cotton was cheap, durable and easy to work with. Their prints were vibrant, modern and fun!

Oh! how do I love thee, Horrockses….let me count the ways!Thank you for cheering up Britain’s post-war women with your affordable, wearable, and utterly gorgeous cotton frocks! Thank you for enabling British women to have enormous full skirts during rationing! Thank you for making them in hard-wearing cotton. We salute you!