Living up to a reputation

1970s, Alice Ormsby-Gore, amanda lear, Asha Puthli, bill gibb, british boutique movement, christopher mcdonnell, frederick fox, ika hindley, Inspirational Images, jean muir, jean varon, joanna lumley, john bates, mary quant, pat cleveland, Sally McLaughlan, telegraph magazine, Terence Donovan, The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, zandra rhodes

For some years now the London fashion designers have had the edge on their Paris rivals for ideas and innovations. Tomorrow evening a film on this subject will be shown on BBC1. Today we photograph the key London designers with their favourite clothes. What do they think of the London fashion scene? Where do we go from here?

Photographed by Terence Donovan. Fashion by Cherry Twiss.

Scanned from The Telegraph Magazine, May 25th 1973.

Zandra Rhodes originally trained as a textile designer; she began designing clothes in 1968. She does not have her own retail shop; her fabulous creations are made to order and sell through the big stores. “I think fashion in London is like a sea with lots of little islands, lots of different looks. I am my own couture island,” she says. “I don’t like committing myself to any one collection. I like adding to it as my ideas come along.” Pat Cleveland, top American model, is wearing Zandra’s “off-the-shoulder lily dress” .of printed grey and cream chiffon with satin-backed bodice and embroidery. From Piero de Monzi, 70 Fulham Road, SW3.
Mary Quant, photographed with her husband Alexander Plunkett-Green, became famous in 1955 when she opened the first “Bazaar” shop in the King’s Road, Chelsea. Now her business includes linen, make-up, tights and dolls as well as clothes, all bearing the unmistakable Quant touch. Of current London fashion she says: “I think the mood is classic, and I love it.” Amanda, a model who typifies Mary’s look, wears trousers, striped pullover and co-ordinating jacket, all in an angora and polyester mixture, and a pure silk shirt. Mary chose this outfit because “it is the epitome of my new collection -the best of everything. Modern classics in the right colours, subtle soft fabrics, elegance, chic – the sort of outfit you want to live in.” From Mary Quant’s new autumn collection, available in September.
Designer Jean Muir with Harry Lockart, her husband and business manager. She started the firm which bears her name in 1966; her distinctive clothes are available at all the major stores. Says Harry Lockart: “The London fashion scene has tremendous potential and on the design side is moving marvellously. It must need organising very professionally along Paris lines, with proper collection weeks, at times that do not clash, so that buyers can see everything.” Joanna Lumley is wearing an olive green two-tiered silk jersey dress described by Jean as “one of my favourites”. About £75 from Lucienne Phillips, 69 Knightsbridge, SW3, or Brown’s, South Molton Street, W1 . Jade necklace by Jean Muir, £15. Shoes, £24, by Charles Jourdan, 47 Brompton Road, SW3. Tights, Elle.
Designer John Bates (left) with John Siggins, Director who handles Publicity, Press and External Contracts. John Bates started the firm of Jean Varon in 1959; he thinks that “fashion in London is no different from anywhere else; but it is only just recently that it has been taken seriously”. Kellie, who is one of John Bates’s favourite models, is wearing a Tricel surah dress in a print by Sally McLaughlan exclusive to John Bates. About £55 from Dickins & Jones, Regent Street, W1 ; Barkers, Kensing-ton High Street, W8; Bentalls of Kingston; Kendal Milne of Manchester. Hat made to order by Frederick Fox, 26 Brook Street, W1.
Christopher McDonnell started his career early in 1967 and now sells his designs at his famous shop in South Molton Street. He thinks London is the most exciting place for evening wear, “but until the factories learn how to cope technically with good ideas for day clothes, the rest of Europe will remain ahead of us in this field.” The model is Ika, who, says Christopher, can interpret any look. She is wearing a cream silk suit with short skirt, £33 from Christopher McDonnell, 45 South Molton Street, W1 . White silk turban £9.50 from George Malyard, 3 King Street, WI. Bangles and choker from Emeline, 45 Beauchamp Place, SW3.
Designer Bill Gibb started out on his own in 1969 and was voted “Designer of the Year” in 1970. He now has a wholesale firm, and in fashion feels that “everybody makes a different sort of contribution”. Asha Puthli, singer and actress is wearing a peach double satin jacket and halter top embroidered and edged with black leather, and Lurex pleated skirt. About £200 from Chic of Hampstead, Heath Street, NW3, or Chases, Bond Street, Wl. Shoes £14.95 by Chelsea Cobbler, 33 Sackville Street, W1 . Tights by Echo. Alice Ormsby-Gore is wearing a plain and printed grey Lurex skirt and sequin embroidered top, £128. Turban by Diane Logan to order. All from Lucienne Phillips, or ZigZag, 100 New Bond Street, Wl. Shoes £14.95 from Chelsea Cobbler. Tights by Echo.

For Anybody Who Has Any Body

1960s, Alan Aldridge, alice pollock, Art, body paint, Caroline Moorehead, Illustrations, Imogen Hassall, Inspirational Images, jane birkin, John Astrop, John Marmaras, marsha hunt, peter blake, quorum, Ralph Steadman, telegraph magazine, The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, Veronica Carlson

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Artist and designer Alan Aldridge first discovered the charms of the female body as a canvas when he painted his wife four years ago for a book poster. Since then it has become quite a habit with him, and his model on this occasion — actress and singer Jane Birkin — was one of a growing line of his painted girls. For her, however, it was a new experience. “I had flowers painted on my face for a film in India,” she recalls, “but the heat just melted them and they cried down my face. Apart from that, the girls I’ve seen in London with their faces painted tended to look pretty sordid and sweaty. When you think of it, there’s such a lot you could do,” she said. “It would be marvellous, for instance, to have bracelets and necklaces painted on. Mind you, the actual experience of being painted takes some getting used to. The sensation of the brush is like being crawled over by a wet snail. And I never realised how much I laughed with my stomach.”

Who are the people who go in for body painting, and does it really exist? Bodies are not the easiest or the most obvious things to paint. And yet as party decoration, and a more exciting way of modelling clothes and jewellery, painted bodies seem to be definitely fashionable.

Though the recent vogue was first adopted by the hippies (where better to put your flowers than painted on your body?) the artist and designer Alan Aldridge is credited with having started the trend in London. In 1964, when he was named Art Director of Penguin Books, he designed a: publicity poster using his wife painted in bright colours as a model, with the caption: “We can’t offer you girls, but we can offer you Penguins.”

“We got a pretty fantastic response,”-says Alan Aldridge. “And then I started doing it commercially in a big way. Too much in fact. The break came when I painted a girl all over but I had to get her drunk on brandy for the occasion.”

Since then sporadic parties have featured painted bodies. Public relations director David Wynne-Morgan had the idea of launching a book, The Exhibitionist, by using cheerfully painted models. The book had a painted girl on the cover, and models at the publicity party sported the title in luminous paint across their backs. Later, guests were encouraged to join in the game, and splattered their dates with paint.

At one of his last collections fashion designer Ungaro showed his models with vivid designs painted around their eyes; and it has now become fairly common in the model world to wear a sparkling snake wound round your leg, or a flower imprinted on yourforehead. Full body painting is a more esoteric art. Jim O’Connor, a graduate of the Royal. College of Art, is one of the artists who took it up ; he recently painted a body in the new landscape style now popular for fabrics: his back view of a girl showed a house rising above a fence, and. clouds floating off behind some trees.

As usual, the advertising world has been quick to catch on. A poster for Ultra’s Bermuda colour television set shows a girl lying on her stomach, naked except for a rough map of Bermuda sketched over her back. The caption invitingly reads: “Win two weeks in Bermuda”. 

Another person to use body painting was Andrew Grima, the Jermyn Street jeweller, who commissioned an Italian artist, Alberto Villar, to paint a naked model in wild colours; afterwards she was scattered with jewels. Though the result was exotic, Grima has not repeated the experirnent: “It was a bit too poppish for us; the paint did not show up the jewellery to its best advantage.”

Several London shops now cater for this new trend. Joan Price, of the Face Place, 26 Cale Street, SW3 is prepared to body paint for 2 gns. She recommends two makes of paint which are non-irritant and do not smear or stain clothes. They can be used together, and are put on with special cosmetic brushes: Colour Me Cloud 9 Body Paints, which cost 5s 6d for a 2in bottle (any four for £1), or the complete set for £2 17s 6d from Cloud 9 Cosmetics, 14 Boltons Close, Woking, Surrey. Their colours range from jade green to deep purple and glistening copper to a pearlised white, which is said to be good for highlighting. The second recommended wake is Innova-tion by Coty, who have produced four subtle see-through shades, which, though not originally intended for body wear, are very suitable for staining wide areas of skin. These cost 10s 6d and can be bought from all Coty stockists.

Next year the Face Place are bringing out a range of body stencils in a variety of patterns. Until then you can make do with Alice Pollock’s Paint Box for the face, from Quorum in the King’s Road, which comes in 12 colours at £3 19s 6d.

I was so sad to hear of the death of Alan Aldridge the other day. One of the most influential artists and illustrators of his generation, his work has always been a huge inspiration to me. There seems to be no better time to share this article from 1969, in which he is credited with starting the whole body-painting phenomenon which defined the late 1960s and shown doing his thing on the ever-lovely Jane Birkin.

And in case that wasn’t enough for you, also featured are Veronica Carlson, Marsha Hunt, Imogen Hassall, Peter Blake, John Astrop and Ralph Steadman.

Photographed by John Marmaras. Text by Caroline Moorehead.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from The Telegraph Magazine, December 1969.

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For designer John Astrop the prerequisite of a good body painting is that it should be “wild”. He is an old hand at the game. Privately he has painted a friend going to a fancy dress party with an “Al Capone” scar (“it lasted all evening and was pretty horrifying”) and professionally he was commissioned to paint a girl with a complete map of Bermuda for an advertisement. His next painting, he had decided, was really going to be something unusual — a front view of a nude painted on to a girl’s back. Film actress Veronica Carlson had a train to catch, however, and could only make her attractive torso available for something less ambitious. Thus the key. This did not stop her taking an informed interest in the proceedings. She had spent four years at art school and as a result her comments were soundly practical. If he was going to add any more water to the paint, for example, could it be warmed first?

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After a lifetime of doodling flowers on to her arms and legs, model, singer and former “Hair” actress Marsha Hunt was able to discuss the subject of body painting with a certain amount of authority. “Of course it’s nothing new,” she said. “American Indians, Africans, every backwoods civilisation you can think of have got themselves painted up. But I don’t think you will see paintings as big as this,” she said, peering down at cartoonist Ralph Steadman’s illustration. “Who’s got three hours to spend being painted? It would have to be a pretty high party.” She broke off and proprietorially peered down at the couple recumbent on her bosom. “Are they both white?” she asked, with the tone of a scandalised landlady. At that stage they were, but Steadman quickly turned the scene into an advertisement for a mixed marriage, and honour was satisfied. “I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “I’d like to have a go at a couple of politicians next.”

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Faced with the whole of actress Imogen Hassall s back for a canvas, painter-illustrator Peter Blake opted for total decoration: He decided to daub her in.a rainbow of colours taking their cue from the red of her playsuit and ending with a purple dramatisation of herf ace. “If you are going to paint a body, why not paint as much as you can get your hands on,” he declared. Imogen, who took all this literally lying down, reserved her comment while he boldly sketched in the ribs of the pattern. “The whole idea reminds me of how women used to paint stockings on their legs in the war,” said Peter. “That sort of body painting literally was fashion, but now I see it more as an extension to fashion — marvellous for anyone who wants to attract attention.” Imogen felt the same way. “Just the thing for a premiere — really quite groovy,” she said, stepping out into the street and virtually stopping the traffic with her now dazzling striped back and red playsuit.

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Bianca Jagger in The Telegraph Magazine, 1979

1970s, bianca jagger, Inspirational Images, mick jagger, pat booth, telegraph magazine, The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, Tina Brown

bianca jagger telegraph magazine may 1979 cover

Words by Tina Brown. Photographs by Pat Booth.

When Bianca Jagger wants to be dismissive her favourite word is “marginal”. Los Angeles is marginal: “Une ville suspendue — no cultural route at all.” Mrs Trudeau is marginal: “Where is her decorum? Her lack of self-composure is amazing.” Fashion is marginal: “lt is woman’s greatest enemy – an industry to produce shirts, shoes and dresses. l have become anti-fashion.” What about rock stars? She shrugs. “l had no intention of marrying one, if that‘s what you mean.” Yes, one feels, definitely marginal.

Bianca Jagger’s divorce is giving her a new bruised energy which becomes her. Gone are the days of late entrances, made in a whirl of impromptu glamour which took five hours to prepare. For lunch at the Connaught in London she arrives punctually, wearing an old, black corduroy jacket over a white shirt and (admittedly) a pair of purple crépe de Chine pantaloons. On her a lapel is a badge labelled “outsider”.

Like a lot of head·turning women, feature by feature she is not a pretty girl, but the confluence is incendiary. Eyes, nose and mouth are all a fraction on the slant, a piquant asymmetry which makes her stillness brooding and her smile foxy. There is also her voice, a lazy Latin American murmur.

“She looks so deliciously mean and ratty,” her friend and fan, shoe designer Manolo Blahnik enthused. “l met her in Paris at a fancy dress party ten years ago, when she was in her extravagant feather boa phase. She was sensational then: but she’s so much better now. She always wears the same thing – a St Laurent blazer she‘s had copied 12 times over and, of course, my shoes. Have you noticed her feet? I find it very hard to like a person with horrible feet. Bianca’s are exquisite, tiny.” Sure enough, beneath the Connaught’s plat du jour the tiny feet teeter in a pair of purple suede stilettos from Manolo’s shop, Zapata.

Mrs Jagger attributes her brave new change of direction to physical discipline. Whether she is in London, New York or California she goes to a gym and works out like a demon for two hours. In London she frequents the Grosvenor House. Here, most aftemoons when she is in town, she changes into a grey plastic pixie suit (for extra weight loss) and joins a trio of sweating, middle-aged men screaming with pain as they do their situps and jacknives on a rubber mattress. No one takes much notice of Bianca. A panting bonhomie prevails. “You training to fight Joe Louis or what?”, asks the trainer, as Bianca hurls herself into a manic press-up routine. “lt’s just,” she growls, “my sexual tension coming out.”

It is also, she admits, a way of blotting out the frustration of her divorce. On the day we met she had heard that her $5,000,000 lawsuit against Mick Jagger might be foiled by the fact that he is no longer domiciled in Califomia. “Now you can see why l need Marvin Mitchelson to be my lawyer,” she says. “I had a decent old-fashioned Englishman acting for me, but I got nowhere.

“Mick is avoiding taxes in every country in the world and he has 13 lawyers helping him to do it. Why should I be denied my freedom and a decent allowance for the sake of his tax situation?

“Then I read in the papers that Marsha Hunt had been awarded the I same sum from Mick in her paternity suit that I, his legal wife, am given to bring up our daughter and run the house. I felt fed up, furious. It was at that point that Mitchelson called me from Los Angeles and offered to help me. He likes women. He has a sense of justice. He made me see that if Mick wants a fight, I must use the same weapons.”

This speech is delivered with an impressive nostril-flaring hauteur. Mrs Jagger is not given to blabbing about her private life. “I’ve always felt that if you tell lots of intimate revelations it’s one more thing you don’t own anymore.” Other sources, however, con- firm that marriage to the rock world’s most notorious tightwad has been no picnic for the “Nicaraguan firecracker”.

“He had this awful working-class chauvinism towards her,” one of Jagger’s old cronies told me. “He pretended to support her acting aspirations, but actually dreaded her being financially independent. He liked to have the whip hand, so that she would always have to beg. She had to keep up the image of being the jet·setting Mrs Jagger on a Marks and Spencers budget. She got over it by developing such style that top designers like Halston rushed to offer her free outfits as a walking advertisement.”

Bianca Perez-Mora de Macias has always been a girl with more cachet than cash. Sceptics say that even the cachet was self-invented: “She could’ve come from Wapping for all l know,” said one of the King’s Road meritocrats with whom she used to knock around in the sixties. “She never would talk about her past. Then, again, there were never any rough edges to her and you don’t just pick up four languages by the age of 18.”

She was born in Nicaragua 32 years ago. Her father, she says, had a coffee plantation. There were three children, Bianca, Carlos – now 25 and living in Paris trying to be a painter – and Indiana, 26, who married a lawyer and stayed in Nicaragua. “My mother was a great classical beauty.” Bianca told me, with the ruefulness of a woman who still privately rates conventional prettiness over her own transcending feats of style. “She was blonde and fair-skinned in a country where most people are brunettes. She overshadowed me completely.”

When Bianca was quite small her parents were divorced for reasons she will not divulge. “Nicaragua is very Catholic. The family was very Catholic. My mother had a hard time as a divorced woman.”

It was, perhaps, the ructions at home and the social opprobrium directed at her mother which made Bianca plot her escape. At 16 she left for Paris with ambitions to become a diplomat. “For Latin Americans at the time Europe was the place for culture. The only other place to go was the United States, but that struck me as a vulgar cliché. I thought of Paris as the sinful city. In fact, it turned out to be quite marginal.” She studied politics at L’Ecole de Science Politique for three years and swiftly penetrated a chic Bohemian set. She put away her diplomatic bag and drifted to London, where she became involved with Michael Caine; then back to Paris. “How did I meet Mick? You know. I always find that an offensive question. If you’re intelligent and pretty you can meet anyone you want. Altematively, if you haven’t got it you can be hanging around the right places for years and not meet anybody interesting at all. Ironically enough, I find it harder to meet new people now than I did when I was that shy little girl from Nicaragua.”

Actually, the shy little girl from Nicaragua was already the girlfriend of the boss of a record company who took her to a Rolling Stones concert in Paris and brought Bianca to the inevitable party afterwards.

Her impact on Mick Jagger was immediate. She pulled out all the stops and beamed her mystery at him.

She would stand him up, appear and disappear. While the other Stones’ wives grouped gratefully around back- stage, Bianca would be doing Big Thinks in a corner, displaying a thumbed copy of a novel by Kafka or Camus. All right, she did not retum to Nicaragua to defeat, as she had vowed to do – “the disgusting oligarchy that prevails there”- but as she brooded behind dark glasses on the flights to New York, Rome or Rio it was clear that she was contemplating it. She even called her preoccupation with clothes “a concern with statics”. Jagger was impressed, particularly when she made it plain that she would not lose herself to the rock·star life, like Marianne Faithfull (a previous Jagger flame), or Anita Pallenberg, Keith Richard‘s longstanding girlfriend.

“If I’d been around Cocteau I might have smoked opium,” she says. “To be around Keith and Anita and have my teeth fall out from shooting smack is not, I think, the same thing.” She recognised that Jagger‘s band was something she could never crack. “The Stones are a secret society. Mick would go through fire and water for Keith. He‘ll forgive him anything. To be one of those wives, involved but not included, is very disturbing. I used to go on gigs with them until I read in an interview with Mick that he hated it when his old lady came along.” By such means do rock stars’ wives discover their husbands‘ feelings.

Today Bianca spends most of her time in her house on the Embankment in Chelsea, “leaming to live alone”. The exterior was recently painted pink, she says, in a sudden expression by Mr Jagger of his rights of ownership. “l said, Mick, why pink? You don‘t live here, I do. He said ‘Because it’s my house and I happen to want it pink’.” Jade her seven-year~old daughter, attends a smart London day school nearby.

“I’m so glad I had her,” she says. “Without her I’d just drift. l’m such a rootless person I wouldn’t care what city I was in, who l was with. I tend to live in a daydream, but Jade is my link with reality, the everyday business of schools and shopping and early bedtime. I try to give her a normal life. I keep her away from photographers because I know from my own experience that publicity should be your own l choice. The problems with her father have drawn us very close. She has great dignity and poise. She knows never to say too much: but, in fact, she sees and senses everything.”

Bianca assured me that she had not forgotten her political aims, That Nicaraguan oligarchy still gets her down. Meanwhile she is pursuing her dreams of being a film star. Thisyear she will be seen at the Cannes Film Festival in Flesh Colour, co-starring with Denis Hopper. “I play the head of the Mafia,” she says. “I interpret her as a woman with ice-cold intelligence and a touch of cruelty, but at the same time romantic and vulnerable.” She also appears with Ned Beatty in an American film, The Ringer, directed by Bill Richart. In it she plays a 1930 courtesan: “a woman who, though highly sensual, is, at the same time…”

She is very aware of the bad publicity which surrounded her abortive film début in Trick or Treat four years ago. Filming stopped midway because Bianca refused to strip. Fortunes were lost in botched rescue jobs and litigation, all due, it was alleged, to Bianca’s prima donnaism. The experience chastened her. “Pressures alter people. Believe me, when you’ve lived through big trouble, you change.”

Some of her old friends refuse to take the new, austere Bianca seriously. As one put it, “She needs a daft earl to bail her out now. I mean, she can’t go on jumping out of Concorde and waiting about with poofs and pavement artists for ever, can she?” They feel that Mitchelson’s lawsuit will make or break Bianca. My own feeling is that even if Bianca does not boogey all the way to the bank, her strange quality will see her through. We have yet to see if she can act. If she can, she might turn out to be a Dietrich; if she cannot, maybe she will be a Nancy Cunard. At any rate, she will not be marginal.

Images scanned and text copied by Miss Peelpants from The Telegraph Magazine, May 13th 1979

bianca jagger telegraph magazine may 1979

The Minnelli Style

1970s, david bailey, Halston, Inspirational Images, Liza Minnelli, Meriel McCooey, The Sunday Telegraph Magazine

Liza Minnelli has been in show business off and on since the age of three when she had her first walk-on part in The Good Old Summertime. Now at the age of 27 she is a firmly established, gutsy, vital, talented star who appears to have the necessary resilience to stay one. But the public demands that its current idols should always be on show, so Liza Minnelli’s looks, costumes and make-up have become an essential part of her professional life. But did she really like clothes ?

“Well, I am one of the 10 best dressed women in the world — so they tell me.” Who tells you? “They tell me.” She gave an abrupt shout of laughter and then looked gloomy, as if the sound of her voice depressed her. Dressed in a beige knitted suit bordered with a brown frieze and wearing no make-up, she apologised for keeping us waiting just a few minutes, and explained that she had been rehearsing for the three concerts that she was to do in London later that week. “Do you mind if I eat something? I haven’t had a bite all day.” Rapidly she spooned her way through a plate of clear soup, crunched some celery, and cut a slice of cheese which she ate like cake. Did she diet? “No, I really don’t have to. I drop pounds when I work; the weight just rolls off.” When she I was younger she tipped the scales at over ll stone; she’s thinner now, but still nicely curvy rather than model-girl skinny.

Stage costumes designed by Keith Hodges

In the bedroom she opened her wardrobe door: it bulged with clothes. “I’m afraid that I haven’t got much here, all the really great stuff is on its way from the States.” On her dressing-table, next to a bottle of Vitamin B with Vitamin C complex tablets, were rows of giant lashes laid out like dead insects — these eyelashes have become almost her trade-mark. “And we’ve got boxes more,” said her secretary. “They are made from real hair,” Liza explained. “Christina makes them up for me, and when they get a bit tacky we send them back and she washes and re-does them for me.”

Her emphatic, idiosyncratic make-up was created by the Hollywood beautician Christina (Christina prefers the word ‘created’), and from time to time she` tums up to adjust it and apply it. “Shc designed it for me but wrote it all down so that I can do it myself.” Liza disappeared into the bathroom, emerging minutes later having washed and dried her short dark hair. Quickly she applied  her make-up and expertly fixed on a pair of the enormous lashes which fanned around her large, expressive eyes like peacock’s feathers.

Clothes by Halston

The off-stage clothes that she showed us looked classic and good, a few from St Laurent, lots from Halston whose clothes she adores, others from De Noyer; her silver jewellery was designed by Peretti for Halston in New York. Some of the clothes, like Halston’s slinky black jersey dress and his black sequinned suit, she wears both on and off stage: “I simply adore black,” she said. Once she complained that just because she had been to 22 schools and had tive fathers everyone ex- pected her to be a delinquent: “But I had an English nanny for four years.” Even so, you get the feeling that the girl who used to wear bright green nail varnish and heavy purple eye- shadow lurks quite near the surface.

A friend said: “At home she looks diiferent. She wears funky blue jeans and outrageous shoes.” “Yes, I do like shoes,” she admitted. More than anything else? “Yes, you could say more than anything else.” She produced a pair of white skin, stubby-toed shoes with incredibly high heels which were studded with multi—coloured rhinestones which glittered and flashed in the lights.

“Desi calls them my Buicks,” (Desi Arnaz Jnr., her boy—friend before the arrival of Peter Sellers). “I buy them from Fred Slatten in California. They are the best sort of shoes, made in Italy with the diamanté stuck on in America.” She says that she is a mixture of Italian, French and Irish. The press cuttings suggest she is part Jewish too? “N0, I’m not, but my half-sister Lorna (Luft) is half-Jewish. The Press make mistakes. I get irritated when they put expressions into my mouth that I wouldn’t use, like ‘haargh’ or ‘yee-uck’, which don’t sound like me. Occasionally I might use ‘shri-ek’ – but not much. A reporter once wrote that he called on me when I was living in a London mews, banged on the door, no-one came, but as he walked away, a top window opened, and I appeared and threw a bottle of vodka at him. I have never lived in a London mews — and I don’t drink vodka.”

Clothes by Halston

Her off-stage wardrobe may have calmed down a bit, but on stage she glitters and shines in extravagant theatrical fantasies. “You would have flipped if I’d had the red satin here, it’s straight, not cut on the bias. And the cloche hat with the flower. Oh, but I really want the red dress.

“Keith Hodges designed it for me with the hat. Keith’s 26 years old and works for himself in California. He sent me a couple of sketches one day, they were simple but extraordinary. One had this hat, another a boa. A funny look. You wou1dn’t have wanted it yourself but I felt that it was right for me. They were a combination of something that Chanel might have designed and someone like Casati might have worn.” Marchesa Casati was one of the most exotic personalities of the early 1900s; a great hostess who painted her face white, dyed her hair flame-red before it was considered ‘proper’, ringed her eyes with kohl, wore tiger skins and eccentric hats, and kept a small Tunisian slave whom she once painted gold.

“I intend to make a film about her with my father. We’ve been looking for the right thing for ages. It’s from a novel, The Film of Memory by Maurice Druon, and it’s about Casati’s relationship with a little room-maid, when she’s old and sick living in the Hotel Inghilterra in Rome. She changes the girl’s life. I’ll play the maid who becomes a kind of mirror to the old woman’s memories, and in the few of the flash-backs I’ll play Casati.

“For Cabaret we almost did the clothes ourselves. There was a designer, I won’t mention her name, but the original clothes were just ‘the pits’. I had to tell her about shoulder pads and explain what ‘cut on the bias’ meant. Once I said ‘Look, before the war . . .’ and she said ‘What war ?’ Imagine. In one scene Fosse [the director, Bob Fosse] threw me his tuxedo waistcoat and said ‘Try this’. It worked so I wore it.” She paused: “You know there is a real Sally Bowles? She really exists. Isn’t it funny, Sally desperately wanted to be famous and important – she wanted to be – and now she is.”

Interview by Meriel McCooey. Photographs by David Bailey. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from The Sunday Times Magazine, July 1973

Dress by Halston