Must See Vintage Films: The Long Goodbye

1970s, british boutique movement, films, Films, laura ashley, Nina van Pallandt, zandra rhodes

Quite apart from Elliott Gould being a very worthy successor to Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe, and the faded-but-magnificent Art Deco buildings which feature throughout, Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973) is also well worth watching for Nina van Pallandt’s wardrobe.

First appearing in what looks like Laura Ashley:

Then a less identifiable dress of a similar ‘peasant’ style but rather less traditionally English in the use of pattern and colour (possibly by Mexicana, Georgia Charuhas or a similar brand):

You can see more clearly in this publicity shot that the bands of lace are transparent:

Then Laura Ashley again:

Slightly clearer albeit black and white in this publicity shot:

By this point, I started wondering if this wardrobe was perhaps that of the actress rather than of the character. Nina van Pallandt was a successful Danish singer (with husband Frederik van Pallandt, they were known as ‘Nina and Frederik’) and would have spent a great deal of time in London. It otherwise seemed a bit odd that she was wearing clearly British-made clothes, albeit in a style which wouldn’t seem too dramatically out of place in early 1970s California. It certainly sets her apart from the few other women in the film, including Marlowe’s doped up neighbours (who are rarely clothed at all), and gives her a dreamy, other-worldly quality.

Then, as if by magic, she then appears in the most spectacular Zandra Rhodes gown. A gown which will, I’m afraid to say, eventually end up soaked through with sea water and very likely ruined.

Again, a proper publicity shot provides a clearer view of the classic Zandra squiggle print:

Afterwards, still pondering this, I hunted around for film stills and eventually came across this photo of Nina wearing the exact same dress in an earlier television performance. Bingo! I don’t know if it was just a small budget or a fussy leading lady, but I can only presume the entire wardrobe of her character was her own. One of those little things which seems to satisfy a curiosity in me, and I feel the need to share with the world.

Photograph by David Redfern.

I think this might be a piece from Zandra’s earliest collection as the hood and sleeve style is very reminiscent of this piece worn by Natalie Wood in 1970. I hope it was able to be rescued from its salty fate and is still out there somewhere.

Inspirational Images: The Last Picture Frock

1970s, cosmopolitan, Inspirational Images, Ken Russell, rolph gobits, Shirley Russell, The Last Picture Frock

Underwear from The Last Picture Frock

Underwear from The Last Picture Frock

Illustrating an article entitled “Is This The Greatest Sexual Fantasy of Them All?” about the character of Molly Bloom from James Joyce’s Ulysses. The underwear comes from The Last Picture Frock, which was a hire firm/boutique started by the late Shirley Russell (wife of and costume designer for the late, great Ken Russell) using her vast stock of antique clothing and costumes. Her stock would later be bought by Angels, so who know where those clothes have ended up!

Photographed by Rolph Gobits.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Cosmopolitan, June 1976.

Inspirational Images: Mia Farrow by Snowdon

1920s, 1970s, Essenses, Inspirational Images, lord snowdon, Mia Farrow, the great gatsby, The Purple Shop, Vogue

mia farrow by snowdon

The girl they picked to play Daisy

Dress from Essenses. Ropes of pearl, crystal , peach and turquoise beads, bangles from a selection at The Purple Shop.

Photographed by Snowdon. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, March 1973

mia farrow by snowdon 2

Must See Films: The Final Programme

1970s, Austin Garritt, british boutique movement, chelsea cobbler, jean varon, Jenny Runacre, john bates, Jon Finch, Julie Ege, marit allen, ossie clark, Robert Fuest, Sandy Lieberson, The Final Programme, Tommy Nutter, Vogue

Final Programme 1

The Final Programme (1973) is a film I must admit I have been desperate to see for many years. Ever since I read that Ossie Clark and John Bates designed clothes for the leading man and lady respectively, but also because of the connection to The Avengers – courtesy of writer, designer and director, Robert Fuest. I am less familiar with the work of Michael Moorcock, so I hope that his fervent fans will forgive me for any ignorance and allow me to mainly rave about the aesthetics of the film.

final programme 20

It is a fascinating attempt to look at a future, distant or not – we are never entirely sure, without trying to be futuristic. In design terms, this is approached with an eye towards the Art Deco; which, possibly without realising, actually firmly establishes it as quite thoroughly Seventies in style. The designers chosen, Clark and Bates, are also notorious for their period tendencies, and the set designs are reminiscent of plenty of Vogue interiors features I have seen from the time. But, much like A Clockwork Orange, with a bit of distance (and when, like me, you think something looking ‘a bit Seventies’ can never possibly be a bad thing), this subtle Seventies-does-Thirties version of the future actually works perfectly. While the technology is a tad clunky, it is so highly stylised that you can actually believe that we might return to it someday.

Final Programme 9

Dressed in Ossie Clark-designed Tommy Nutter-made suits, Finch swaggers around like an elegant hybrid of Ossie himself, Marc Bolan and Jim Morrison. Bouncy curls, sultry lips and just the right amount of chest hair on show. Laconic, cool, and admirably fond of biscuits, he is a perfect off-beat hero. It’s no wonder Jon Finch was considered for the part of James Bond, but it’s also no wonder that he turned it down. Jerry Cornelius is a far more interesting character to play; the humour is quirky and the fight scenes are playful – his movements more catlike. Bond is a thuggish oaf in comparison.

Final Programme 3

Jon Finch in The Final Programme

Cornelius is the ultimate Man in Black, slim and sleek. From the beginning, aside from an all-too-brief moment in a kaftan, he really only wears a sharply tailored black suit with a gently ruffled white silk shirt underneath. We first see him with a large fur coat over the top, which again is rather more reminiscent of a rock star than of a ‘hero’ – futuristic or otherwise, and a pair of simple aviator sunglasses. If there are subtle variations in his black suit, they are not made to be noticeable. But it also doesn’t feel like a rigid costume, just a signature choice. In a way, Clark has the harder task in designing a single ‘look’ which must run through and work within the design feel of the entire film: from the wilds of Finland, through his family’s perfectly minimalist Art Deco house and then to rural Turkey.

It is interesting to note that Ossie stated, in an interview from April 1969, that he was originally asked to do costumes for 2001: A Space Odyssey. The collaboration came to nothing, however, thanks to ‘disagreements’ between Clark and (presumably) Kubrick.

“I gave it up partly because the film company didn’t like my ideas, and didn’t think I knew what I was talking about.”

Ossie Clark, 19 Magazine April 1969

Final Programme 2

Of course Hardy Amies ultimately became the designer for 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it reinvigorated his career during a time when the likes of Ossie and John Bates were far more in demand. I see this as interesting, because this ‘futuristic’ film doesn’t attempt space age futurism in the way 2001: A Space Odyssey did. It does make you wonder if Ossie had decided that his brand of period-influenced design and quirky tailoring was the only way he wanted to design 2001: A Space Odyssey, and that – coincidentally – it was very much in keeping with the overall design by Fuest for The Final Programme.

Final Programme 6

Julie Ege in The Final Programme

Jenny Runacre (below) is the lucky lady with the impossibly elegant (and predominantly white) couture John Bates wardrobe. Her ‘look’ is strikingly unusual for the time, and a perfect contrast to the brief appearance by Julie Ege (above), who is the perfect early Seventies dolly we see in a Mr Freedom, Pop Art-inspired sequence, and later to Sandra Dickinson’s kitschy, bottle blonde waitress. Runacre looks like a kind of hard bitch version of a Botticelli muse; big eyes and softly curled hair flat around her face, but with a gorgeously sneering voice and a cool air of superiority.

Final Programme 17

Jenny Runacre in The Final Programme

John Bates gets to have a lot more fun with his anti-heroine, who has considerably more costume changes than Finch, with a largely white palette and subtle variations on his billowing batwing shapes of the time. With boots by Richard Smith for The Chelsea Cobbler, and furs by Austin Garritt (with whom Bates often seems to have collaborated on leather, suede and fur designs at the time), her look is flawless from head to toe. The use of white feels like a conscious aspiration on her part, heavily connected to her vision for the future of humanity. But it also contrasts in a very basic way with the head-to-toe black of Cornelius; like a reverse of the black and white, evil and good, yin and yang cliché.

Final Programme 14

Jenny Runacre and Jon Finch in The Final Programme

It is interesting to contrast Bates’s designs for Miss Brunner with his more famous costume design stint for another strong female character: Emma Peel in The Avengers. Where Emma Peel’s clothes were feline, often cut sparingly and close to the body, Miss Brunner’s are billowing, voluminous and with more feminine detailing in trims and embroidery. Leather is replaced by suede, long-haired sheepskins replace rabbit fur in bold op-art patterns. Prevailing trends of the early Seventies, and a clear design direction by the two designers, mean that the roles are somewhat reversed; where the male protagonist is wearing skin-tight tailoring and revealing flashes of skin, the female is largely concealed until the denouement.

Final Programme 19

Jenny Runacre in The Final Programme

While there is no specific designer credited with the costumes of the more minor characters, the overall costume consultant – I was delighted to note – was one Marit Lieberson. Better known as Marit Allen (formerly of British Vogue and one of the most influential fashion journalists of the 1960s) Allen championed both John Bates and Ossie Clark early in their careers – wearing a design by the former for her wedding to Sandy Lieberson (also producer of this film) in 1966 – so the decision to use them so prominently in the film makes the most perfect sense.

It somehow feels like the combination of Fuest as production designer, Marit as costume consultant and two of the best British designers of the time, was a combination that couldn’t possibly lose. And yet, it did.

Final Programme 16

Despite the fact that The Final Programme has become something of a ‘lost’ film of the otherwise booming British film industry at the time, the overwhelmingly harmonious styling has secured it, for me, as one of the finest films of that period. I don’t see why A Clockwork Orange or Logan’s Run (both films of a very similar aesthetic and calibre) should both be so well-known, while this languishes in obscurity.

Final Programme 5   Final Programme 4   Final Programme 7

Final Programme 8

Final Programme 10

Final Programme 11

Jon Finch and Sandra Dickinson

Final Programme 12

Final Programme 13

Final Programme 15

Final Programme 18

Inspirational Interiors: Join the Gatsby Girl at Home

1970s, art deco, cosmopolitan, Inspirational Images, interior design, Lois Chiles, Robert Perron, the great gatsby

Lois Chiles relaxes with a glass of white wine, looking every inch the rising star. Bed strewn with cushions acts as extra seating, huge mirror tiles make the room look twice as large. Glass dressing table shelf laden with old scent bottles, lovingly collected over the years.

Lois Chiles relaxes with a glass of white wine, looking every inch the rising star. Bed strewn with cushions acts as extra seating, huge mirror tiles make the room look twice as large. Glass dressing table shelf laden with old scent bottles, lovingly collected over the years.

What every working girl deserves is somewhere pretty and peaceful to come home to — especially a girl who has been slaving from six a.m. in front of studio arc tights. Lois Chiles, a beautiful brunette cover girl now making ripples in the film The Great Gatsby, has created the kind of apartment — from an ordinary two-room flat – that is as soothing at the end of the day as a glass of pink champagne. The secret of the film star glamour is simple, and not expensive to copy; Lois chose pale, pretty colours that do as much for the complexion as Elizabeth Arden. So forget the drab browns and beiges of our current good taste era! Sugar pink softens the walls and clear yellow makes the standard windows found in blocks of flats something worth looking at — as well as out of. Lois adds her own handwriting with rows of framed photographs. A few junk shop finds — like the Odeon—style chair and old scent bottles — banks of flowery cushions and more flowers and plants than most career girls can afford. Still, a film star deserves her perks…

Photographs by Robert Perron. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Cosmopolitan, May 1974

Odeon-style chair and art deco ashtray make a stylish duo: Lois reupholstered her junk shop find in this pretty pastel shade.

Odeon-style chair and art deco ashtray make a stylish duo: Lois reupholstered her junk shop find in this pretty pastel shade.

Latticed windows in the living room let in lots of light. A gallery of favourite photos and a vaseful of roses add film-star glamour.

Latticed windows in the living room let in lots of light. A gallery of favourite photos and a vaseful of roses add film-star glamour.

Mensday: Winner takes all

19 magazine, 1960s, Mensday, Michael Winner, the jokers

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from 19, April 1969

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from 19, April 1969

A slightly belated RIP to Michael Winner. While he became something of a national joke/treasure/pompous buffoon in his later life, I maintain that his early films show a brilliance which very few people appreciate. The Jokers and I’ll Never Forget What’s ‘isname are two of my most favourite films of that period, the latter has a depth which few people would or could ever associate with Winner. Also, thanks to him, I have some prime Oliver Reed lusting material. I salute you Sir and offer my greatest respect and condolences.

I also have a weakness for Parting Shots. I mean, how can you argue with a cast list that includes Diana Rigg, Joanna Lumley, Oliver Reed, Gareth Hunt, Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant? You can’t.

Vintage Films: Central Bazaar

1970s, bfi, Central Bazaar, films

central bazaar

It’s not an original pun, but Central Bazaar by Stephen Dwoskin is really, truly bizarre. We watched it in two parts about a month ago, and even after much discussion and thinking on it, I am still unsure as to quite what I think of it. Many of the online reviews likened it to a Seventies version of Big Brother, where a group of people – locked in the director’s house – are filmed over the course of a couple of weeks. But that is to do it an injustice, and suggests that it may be some kind of cultural snapshot of the period. These people are a disconcerting mix, chosen without a structure in mind (there are no ‘types’ that I can clearly identify) and appear to spend most of the time in a druggy haze, having been instructed to act out private fantasies with their fellow housemates.

The actual soundtrack to the action is stripped away and replaced with a discordant, electronic hum. Which is both uncomfortable and completely soporific (hence the need to watch in two parts, we both drifted off to sleep about halfway through). The shots are lingering, wobbling, moving in and out of focus rather than fast-paced editing.

It really has rather more in common with an improvisation, the performers daubing themselves with make-up and pulling on random garments from [what I assume was] a provided dressing-up box, before enacting ‘scenes’ – usually sexual and psychological. There are threads of potential stories, punctuated with a few moments of relief from the electronic hum where people sing songs or read stories, but since there is no speech and no context, it is difficult to follow. But in itself, this is fascinating. It means the film is as good as your imagination and patience.

In many ways, it is a perfect example of style over substance. It looks incredible. Or at least, it looks incredible if grubby Seventies sex, interiors and dressing-up are your kind of thing. These characters all look the part of interesting, sensual, bohemian people. But whether or not they actually are is completely obscured by the techniques of the director. If you have a yen for something truly unique, but which many have deemed “unwatchable” (a word which usually makes me prick up my ears and click the ‘rent’ button on Lovefilm) then it is certainly worth a watch. Otherwise, these screengrabs capture what is best about the film – the visuals.

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Voici les pépées du nouveau James Bond

1960s, angela scoular, Catherine Schell, Ciné Revue, diana rigg, Films, George Lazenby, Ingrit Back, James Bond, Jenny Hanley, joanna lumley, Julie Ege, Mona Chong

Ciné Revue, 23 Janvier 1969.

I am going to roughly translate that as Phwoar!! Check out the new James Bond’s bevvy of dollybirds*, to use contemporary British terminology.

I realise that Mr Lazenby really isn’t much cop as an actor, but a) he isn’t Sean Connery (who brings me out in hives) and b) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has the glorious Ms Rigg in it, so no criticism is allowed chez Vintage-a-Peel. A great spread from Ciné Revue featuring all the key Bond girls in OHMSS (special mention for Angela Scoular), but weirdly omitting Joanna Lumley. Ah well, enjoy!

* I do realise this isn’t entirely accurate, but a literal translation seemed so boring…

Must See Vintage Films: The Adventures of Barry McKenzie

aristos, barry humphries, films, Foale and Tuffin, haute naffness, irvine sellars, katy manning, peter cook, take 6, zandra rhodes

Ok, so perhaps the term ‘must see’ is not necessarily going to apply to most [sane] people, but if you’ve got an appetite for the naff, kitsch or questionable tastes in life (and as a reader of my blog, I fear this may be the case…) then The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972) should be right up your street.

The film is based on the comic strip from Private Eye, written by Barry Humphries and illustrated by Nicholas Garland, and follows the eponymous Aussie hero as he fulfills his dead father’s wish to expand his cultural horizons in London. Ending up in Earl’s Court (where else?) a series of mishaps and misunderstandings lead Barry to an unspeakable dénouement in a TV studio. I am not even going to attempt to explain that.

Barry, Barry and Willie Rushton

Starring Barry Humphries in an early outing as plain old Mrs Edna Everage, Barry Crocker as our hero (Crocker is now married to Miss Peelpants-favourite Katy Manning and is best known to us ‘Pommy Bastards’ as the original singer of the Neighbours theme tune), and with cameos by Spike Milligan and Peter Cook, it is certainly quite an amazing period piece. Demonstrated perfectly with an incredible, possibly unique, shot of Barry and a friend walking down Marlborough Court. Yes, you can see Irvine Sellars ‘Mates’ boutique, Take 6, Aristos and Foale and Tuffin!!! Much excitement abounded….

Further still, one young lady is slinking around her apartment in the most perfect Zandra Rhodes outfit….

And then Peter Cook manages to floor me with a fabulous Betty Grable-printed t-shirt. I have no idea who this is by, so if any menswear geeks ever find out – please do let me know!

Inspirational Images: Le Mepris, 1963

1960s, brigitte bardot, films, Inspirational Images, jean luc godard

Michel Piccoli and Brigitte Bardot in Le Mepris (1963)