Look Back in Anger

1970s, Adrian Mann, Angela at London Town, Bermona, Bilbo, bus stop, fifties fashion, flair magazine, john kelly, lee bender, Mr Feed'Em, mr freedom, ravel, Sacha, sheridan barnett, simon massey, stirling cooper, Vintage Editorials

Call it nostalgia, admission of defeat, lack of inventiveness or what you will: the ugly fact is that there is a strong trend among designers to dig up the Fifties for a fashion revival. Those were the days of the A-line, the tulip dress, Lurex and pleated skirts. If you are disturbed at a Fifties revival, so are we. We think it a period in fashion terms best forgotten, with one or two exceptions. If you don’t favour the fashion but fancy the authentic ambiance you’ll get the right idea at Mr Freedom’s restaurant, Feed’em, where we photographed. Here, written about in the Fiftie’s style, are some of the up-dated Fifties fashions on sale now.

At the same time as the Thirties and Forties were being raided by British Boutique designers, so were the Fifties (or Fiftie’s as so spectacularly put here) and it’s pretty hilarious to see the cynicism by the writer here (possibly fashion editor Sarah Drummond) – who had presumably been a young woman then. The cyclical nature of fashion is nothing new and nor is the disbelief when it’s happening in your own timeline!

On another note, it’s always lovely to see some new-to-me shots inside the legendary Mr Feed’em restaurant!

Photographed by John Kelly.

Scanned from Flair, November 1971.

Crepe pencil skirt and pure wool knitted top that you can dress up or down as you please with a clever change of accessories. Button through fastening gives the skirt special new back interest. Skirt £6. Sweater, £4.50 both by Stirling Cooper. Seamed stockings 30p by Aristoc. Black suede and red patent peep toe shoes, Ravel, £5.50.
A flamboyant crepe de chine evening number, in an adventurous chintzy print with snazzy flounced skirt, £10.50 by Sheridan Barnett at Simon Massey. Black suede sandals with ankle straps, Bilbo, £7. Red beaded necklace, Corocraft, 49p. Purple and pink Perspex bangles, Adrien Mann, 30p each.
Smart-as-paint coat that captures all the intriguing fashion points of the season; with a generous fullness at the back. Created in a delightful brown and beige wool blanket fabric. Bus Stop £19.95. Brown leather boots. Sacha £8.99.
Neat ladylike costume in carefree Tricel jersey. The swirling skirt is a-flutter with knife pleats and the short fitted jacket has an optional tie. In an opulent new shade of plum and white, by Angela at London Town £20. Burgundy brimmed felt hat, Bermona, £1.70. Mulberry tights, Mary Quant, 75p. Multi strapped shoes, Mondaine, £11.99.

Madame Grès

fifties fashion, forties fashion, madame grès, musee bourdelle, paris, seventies fashion

I am returned from Paris! It was all perfectly wonderful, plenty of wandering (some aimless, some not…), drinking, eating and all other lovely things. I will blog a little more about events on my birthday, but I thought I would start off with the visual feast that was the Madame Grès exhibition at the Musée Bourdelle. Everything about it was a treat. The museum itself is a fantastic space; a mixture of old studios and purpose built exhibition spaces. The Grès pieces have been inserted within the permanent exhibition, and also in larger dedicated sections. You weave your way through the numbered rooms, which seem to go on forever (which is wonderful, unless you’re slightly concerned about catching your Eurostar back home…but we still managed to soak it all up!).

I have to emphasise how much of a honour it was to be able to see the dresses up close. I mean, really up close. Everyone was respectful of the ‘do not touch’ signs, so often a problem in the UK I fear, and it shows off the dresses to perfection. Grès was a designer who was all about the detail, the finest pleats and the most delicate of stitching. I couldn’t stop snapping; quite frankly, I think I forgot that I wasn’t photographing listings for my website (I should be so lucky!).

My favourite designers are always those who rarely move with the winds of fashion. Idiosyncrasy is my favourite word. The exhibit cleverly juxtaposes her early pieces with the later ones, as well as with Bourdelle’s sculptures – since sculpture was her inspiration and, I think, her vocation. I should have made more notes about dates, but I can tell you that the one immediately below this text is from 1980 (just before she went bankrupt, her House was sold and her archives destroyed). At the top of the page, the two tomato-red jersey dresses are twenty years apart in production. It’s extraordinary, and to be admired. Her skill was unmistakeable, it didn’t need to follow trends or chase notoriety and scandal.

Enjoy!

Dreamiest coat in the world

Shades of grey

Choir of angels

I can’t resist a buffle

Can you believe this dress is from 1946?