The time: mid-morning coffee-break The place: The Post Office Confravision Studios, Euston Tower* The clothes: At last, working gear (you’ll be delighted to see) to cope with both formal and permissive working environments. The fabric: calico, strong and hard-wearing, cotton-based, so it’s comfortable for over-heated offices. Add a dash of towelling, team it with crocheted string vests, scarves, tights and bags for a little wit. The colour: cream—soothing and harmonious for worn executives. Enliven it with a touch of colour here and there (and to pick you out from beige office walls — remove if you need the camouflage).
* One of five office studios provided by the Post Office for its conference-by-TV service. Designed by Kenneth Grange of Pentagram.
An incredibly apposite photoshoot featuring the Post Office’s futuristic ‘Confravision’ studios. To read an original brochure, click here.
Games That Lovers Play (1970) is one of my favourite types of period films, where the hybrid of period detail in its setting is completely meshed and mangled with the incidental period detail of the year in which it was made. These films must be at least forty years old for me to not rant and rave about the inaccuracies, of course, otherwise I will let rip for eternity. But, much like The Boyfriend, Games That Lovers Play is an homage to the Twenties – with some very Seventies sensibilities. Except it’s even looser than The Boyfriend. And I mean loose in both senses of the word.
It is also a classic example of a film currently held in very low regard, which I maintain would be feted if it was French or Italian. It is kitsch, camp and aesthetically fascinating, even if it is rather a failure as a coherently plotted or acted film. The plot revolves around two rival Madams, who each wager that their ‘best’ girl is the best by challenging them to seduce unseduceable men.
The costumes are, naturally, my main interest. They play extremely fast and loose with the Twenties look, creating a slight difference between the more Edwardian domain of Lady Chatterley (yes, I know) and the more modern Deco feel of Fanny Hill’s residence. (Yes, Fanny Hill…) The costumes are credited as being from Bermans and the ‘Wardrobe’ to one Ray Beck. They are a glorious, glorious mishmash of Edwardian, Twenties, Thirties and definitely plenty of 1970. My particular favourite is Lady Chatterley’s Edwardian wrap dress (possibly house coat), exquisitely embroidered and trimmed with ostrich feathers. She strips it off, puts it back on and generally flounces around the grounds like something out of my wildest sartorial dream. In fact I adore this dress so much that I turned it into a gif.
But it also needs to be seen from all angles, so here are some more:
It even has a butterfly on the bum for goodness sake! I really hope this piece still exists somewhere out there. In fact, I might have to make it my life’s work to recreate it.
Fanny Hill’s wardrobe is rather more Twenties/Thirties in style and with rich colours:
Oh, did I not mention that Fanny Hill is played by Joanna Lumley? To be honest, from what I’ve read I think she’d rather it never saw the light of day but I reckon it’s one of the most interesting things she ever did. She also co-stars with her future husband, Jeremy Lloyd. Incidentally, Lady Chatterley is played by Penny Brahms, and I can’t help but wonder if she was the inspiration behind ‘Miss Brahms’ in Jeremy Lloyd’s Are You Being Served.
Lloyd plays her first seduction target: a gay drag artist, which leads Fanny Hill to pose as a man dressed as a woman – in full Georgian regalia. This party scene is also populated with genuine drag artists of the time and has an incredibly authentic feel. The credits read The “Queens” : Played by Themselves!, and I would dearly love to know who these people were because it must be incredibly ahead of its time in depicting this scene.
Lady Chatterley’s target is a Bishop, and she starts to look a little more Thirties-does-Seventies at this point.
From here on I won’t ruin the plot for you, such as it is, so will just post some more of my favourite outfits and hope that I have whetted your appetite. I appreciate that I have a very high tolerance for weird films, but I did really enjoy it.
Soopah doopah shoes to stride you through summer days, to lounge you through sunset, to get hot nights on the move. This summer you really can make footwear go a long way because the nicest styles are stout enough for strolling yet manage to look sophisticated and elegant too.
Spring has taken on a romantic air – with light dresses, billowing skirts and full sleeves. The fabric for day is cotton, especially voile. For evening, crepe is a great favourite. The lines are seductive – wear low v-necks, hats with lots of veiling and an antique brooch. Find an old shawl or crochet your own. If you’ve time to hunt you needn’t spend much money.
Some of my favourite designers, my favourite looks, one of my favourite photographers and two of my favourite models: Charlotte Martin and Mouche. Perfection.
Pattie Harrison looking like summer… her hair brushed into tumbling curls by Herta at Vidal Sassoon, her complexion glowing from her vegetarian diet and country life. Straw hat by Betty Gubbay, Jap check lawn blouse, pink beads from Butler and Wilson.
Here’s Yvonne with her friends from “The Grope”, a pop group that first got going in Inverness. Noddy, sitting beside her, is lead guitar. On the right is Size, bass guitar. And Charlie, with the Micky Mouse shirt, used to be their manager. “The Grope” (only Viv is missing) write most of their own songs, and the one they like best is “Miss Samantha”.
Yvonne has lots of friends in the pop world and she now works at a Discotheque herself, serving drinks and food. She loves that job, though it’s not exactly what her mother had dreamed of: she wanted Yvonne to become a ballerina, like herself.
As it turned out, Yvonne started as a temp. shtd. typ. She didn’t stick it long, because she kept landing up with impossible bosses. “Old women, who wouldn’t let me talk”, she explains. So off she went to the Chelsea Drugstore and got a job assembling Knickerbocker Glories and suchlike at the Soda Fountain.
Yvonne, where are you now? And who on earth were ‘The Grope’? And where can I get that ‘Flower Power’ mug?
After the systemic strip of the West’s liberated women comes a longing for the romance and mystery of the East. The newest clothes reflect this mood with suggestive gauzes and clinging crepes. We took some to Bahrain, where the women are still heavily veiled and pass secluded lives in the harem.
A textbook example of the trend towards ‘exotic’ inspiration in the fashion world of the late Sixties/early Seventies. Most famously by Thea Porter, of course, but also with lesser known labels such as Suliman and Savita. Another strand of the post-Sixties backlash against the minimal and the space-age, along with the period romanticism of Laura Ashley and the more kitschy retro Rock’n’Roll stylings of Glam Rock.
As an aside, I always feel a little uncomfortable posting these ‘location’ shoots when they involve local characters, because it can feel a little exploitative. But at the same time, I don’t want to censor the past and think it’s important to remind ourselves of how fashion needs to be less exploitative and culturally ‘acquisitional’, even now.
I was also very entertained to note that a variation on the first image was used as part of the hilarious series of Smirnoff adverts and that I scanned back in 2015. There are only a few months between the two and I’m fascinated to know whose decision that was!
Fashion by Cherry Twiss.
Photographed by Sacha.
Scanned from The Daily Telegraph Magazine, 2nd July 1971.