Black and silver are this year’s popular Christmas colours. Sweaters are in silver lurex striped in black, black wool flecked with silver and endless other combinations. Shapes are halter-necks, dolmans, or little wrap-over cardigans – almost any shape will do. Accessories are bright and glittery. Add touches, like sticking sequins on your hats, and shoes, and you’re all set to outshine the fairylights.
Photographed by Christian Laroque.
Scanned from 19 Magazine, December 1972.
What a year. It’s hard to summon up a great deal of enthusiasm for the Christmas we’re about to have, but I’m looking backwards to look forwards, as I often do. I still seem to find joy and solace in art and aesthetics and I hope my posts have given you the odd moment of enjoyment and inspiration this year. Thank you for your support and to everyone who has bought vintage from me or liked/shared/commented on my blog and Instagram posts. Sending you my love and best wishes for a better year ahead.
You might be short on space, but that’s no reason to skimp on imagination in doing up your own place. “Studio flat, one bed, kitchen and bath, ch, pleasant aspect.” That’s the kind of accommodation most of us want when we look for somewhere to live in the big city. And the metal windows, featureless walls and skimpy dimensions are liable to be standard whether you call it a flat and you’re in London, or Liverpool, or it’s pronounced “apartment” and the address is Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. Case in point is the one-bedroom pad, shown on these pages, of Barbara Carrera, Nicaraguan-born model and actress. The plethora of ruffled pillows, jungle of greenery and vast coffee table indicates the Hollywood influence, but you don’t need to be Liz Taylor to aspire to mirror tiles on your wall to expand a poky bedroom. The Californian passion for pale colours, low sofas and casual arrangements of objects suits the English climate, too. Wicker mania is also rampant here in the UK, hence the boom in shops that sell basketware of every kind. Barbara must have bought a job lot of laundry baskets which she mounted in two tiers. These now hold her TV set, record player, art books and some of the jungle greenery. The mirror walls make the basket shelves look double the amount, but the initial investment in six strong cane baskets is a fraction of shelving bought by the yard. Bonus: you can take the baskets with you when you decide to move elsewhere.
Barbara is celebrating her first part in a film—she plays Victoria in Embryo opposite Rock Hudson—hence the purchase of the wall-hanging “TAKE ME TO YOUR LEDA” seen over her bed. But if, like Barbara, you can handle a paint brush, why not splash out your own abstract art like Barbara’s picture hanging over the sofa ? Most working girls don’t have the space for a dining area. Barbara gives intimate dinners—never more than four—in the corner of her living-room where two peacock chairs flank a small round table. Make one yourself from a round plywood top balanced on a metal plinth finished off with fabric skirt.
The all-over printed batiks have the freshest look in printed fabrics with the correct ethnic feeling. Models like Barbara who jet round the world can pick up Indonesian sarongs, embroidered Greek cushions and Navaho rugs in the Country of origin at airport shops as well as in the authentic souks and bazaars. Happily, anyone with a day ticket can find the same merchandise in the clutch of ethnic shops in Pimlico, Covent Garden and Hampstead. Beautiful kangas, batiks, or baskets, shells. Oriental china and wall-hangings can be seen at one of the newest sources, Rain (late Klong and Roots and Shoots), Pimlico Road, London SW1. A wind-bell to tinkle at the window and a dozen or so green plants (don’t forget a decorative watering-can and plant mister are available at Conran, Draycott Avenue, SW3, which also stocks handsome cane furniture) will complete your private Oriental fantasy. We can’t all be movie stars, but we can all afford some of the comforts of Hollywood.
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.
Party wear for the getogether season takes all the best of blazers and pants and sleeks them up in satins and velvets… or cools off with the prettiest dresses ever.
Clearly Christmas 2020 is going to be a uniquely muted season as far as partying is concerned, but I often avoid the throngs of people anyway. Years of working in theatre over the festive season meant that when I had downtime I would prefer to lounge around in satins and velvets in the comfort of my own home. I’m just glad you’re all finally catching up with how nice it is! In all seriousness though, sometimes the smallest things can make us feel the nicest – so even if you don’t feel like getting togged up in satin and velvet, I highly recommend doing something you would normally find ridiculous for sitting around at home. Sparkly hair clip, red lipstick or those skyscraper platforms you can’t walk in.
Photographed by kind permission of Mecca Dancing at the Empire Ballroom, Leicester Square, WC1
Obviously I do not condone the message as regards the product being advertised here, but what an amazing, ephemeral capture of the Quorum boutique window with Ossies on both the model and the mannequin (‘Bridget’ and ‘Cuddly’ respectively). I also think that might possibly be the ghostly figure of Alice Pollock in the background.
Sorry for the protracted absence over the past month. I realise I’m not the only one, but I have been experiencing serious fatigue from the events of the past year and I think the loss of Diana Rigg was some kind of final straw for me. I could see I was almost at the point of burning out and decided to take my foot off the pedal for a bit. But I get itchy fingers if I don’t scan for a while so I am gently starting up again, although it’s unlikely to be the same frequency as before. I’ve enjoyed the downtime too much and need to be careful with my mental health – as do we all!
I hope you’re all hanging in there ok, and that at the very least my archive has been of some distraction and enjoyment to you.
Biba cosmetics advert scanned from Honey, October 1971.
I was mainly scanning this spread because I’ve just listed a Zandra Rhodes dress which I think must be from the same collection over on Etsy, but thought I might as well put them here too – especially because of that iconic Bill Gibb photo (used for the cover of Iain R. Webb’s definitive book about Gibb, seemingly fetching a pretty penny on Amazon these days). These top-stitched jerseys were a signature look for her in this period and mine also has the Piero de Monzi label. Marc Bolan had a top version in various colours and levels of frilly extravagance.
(If you’re interested in the Zandra Rhodes dress, click here to view it on Etsy.)