New Suede Shoes

1970s, alkasura, british boutique movement, hans feurer, Inspirational Images, king's road, let it rock, Malcolm McLaren, manolo blahnik, pat cleveland, Screaming Lord Sutch, stirling cooper, sunday times magazine, Valerie Wade, vivienne westwood, zapata
Satin dresses, £8 from Let It Rock, 430 King’s Road, London SW3. Suede shoes with crepe heels, £17.75 (with green dress) and £17.50 (with black dress), both by Zapata, 49 Old Church Street, London SW3. Screaming Lord Sutch dresses by Let It Rock: 12in.-bottomed jean drains, £2.50; Lurex shirt, £3.95; waistcoat, £3.95. Full skirt and off-the-shoulder blouse (right), £8 and £5 from Alkasura, King’s Road, London SW3. Fifties stilettos and wide belt, £2 and £2.40; silver heart locket, £4.10.

If fashion revivals keep accelerating at the current rate, last year’s hot-pants are going to be a cult by the end of the decade. Who would have dreamed that a Fifties teenager’s wardrobe would be back in fashion by his late twenties? In 1958 Teddy Boys were practically extinct now crowds of Teds and Rockers cram the Fishmongers Arms at Wood Green to hear rock groups like Screaming Lord Sutch and the Houseshakers (above). There are now an estimated 20,000 revivalist Teddy Boys in England, and the drainpipe-trouser trade is booming. These pictures show some of the clothes that you’ve only just managed to forget.

A new and influential shop in the King’s Road is run by an original Ted called Malcolm McLaren. Walking into Let It Rock is like walking into a flashback from the Fifties. James Dean and Elvis posters line the walls; period showcases are filled with hair-cream, plastic combs and sweetheart lockets; the juke-box belts out some of the best rock ever recorded, and the clothes on sale would be a credit to Gene Vincent, Presley, Eddie Cochran or anyone else who made the recordings. Boxes of 45s and old fan magazines litter the floor next to genuine valve radios with a three-month guarantee.

Designers like Stirling Cooper and Mr Freedom have been manufacturing Fifties-inspired clothes for some time, but Let It Rock is the only shop selling the real thing. This particular revival is so premature that there is still a large amount of the original stock around; dirndl skirts, stiletto-heeled winkle-pickers, cotton sweaters and plastic jewellery, not to mention 12in. drainpipe trousers and jeans, bootlace ties, luminous socks and blue suede shoes. This is the only place where Teds can buy off-the-peg ‘drapes’ — their mid-thigh Edwardian velvet-trimmed jackets. The phenomenon of Let It Rock is that it is situated in the heart of Chelsea, which Teds regard as ‘enemy territory’; now they’re selling to the newly converted ‘natives’.

The clothes in Let It Rock are inspired by two groups, the Teddy Boys (and girls) and Rockers (and birds). According to McLaren, Teds like the updated rock styles, whereas the Rockers, especially the girls, prefer ‘strong’ ideas like the characteristic shaggy mohair sweater-dresses and winklepicker boots. ‘Chelsea people’ go more for the authentic stuff . . . if you endorse a revival, you might as well get the real thing Fashion can thank the Fifties for some of the most unglamorous and unflattering clothes we ever knew. That is what makes their unmodified rebirth so difficult to understand.

I’m not sure I can say much more about Vivienne Westwood’s body of work which hasn’t already been said. I always think the best quality in a designer is idiosyncrasy, and Westwood had that by the truckload. Her work didn’t stagnate, but it often referenced her own past and continued to translate the wider cultural past into her own language – and yet never tried to be anybody else. Given my magazine collection covers mainly the Sixties and Seventies, I thought it best to celebrate her by doing what I do best, which is trying to go back and show you the starting point for the things we just take for granted decades later. The origins of what she’s best known for are ultimately in the Teddy Boy revival of the early Seventies and her work for ‘Let It Rock’ with Malcolm McLaren, and this captures that early spark – despite the fact that they don’t mention her at all.

I’ve also been meaning to scan this for a while so, now seemed like a good time. I mean, Pat Cleveland and Screaming Lord Sutch photographed by Hans Feurer? What more could you ask for?

Report by Valerie Wade.

Photographed by Hans Feurer.

Scanned from The Sunday Times Magazine, May 14th 1972.

Top left : short fringed dress, £7, from Let It Rock. Bottom left: short mohair dress, £12. Black winklepicker boots, £12. Centre top: V-necked cotton sweater in Fifties fabric, £2; genuine pearlised belt, £2.50; all from Let It Rock. Above: black jean drains, £2.50, and luminous socks, 30p; both from Let It Rock. Off-the-shoulder sweater, £3.95, Stirling Cooper Shop, Peter Robinson, Oxford Street, Vl. Tartan shoes, £16.50, Zapata, 49 Old Clurch Street, SW3. Right: crepe skirt, £6, Let. It Rock. Scarf, 35p, at Woolworth’s

Shaping Up

1970s, antony price, che guevara, gala, Inspirational Images, Karl Stoecker, manolo blahnik, sunday times magazine, Valerie Wade, Vintage Editorials, zapata
Main image: Crepe-de-chine two-piece, £20. Shoes by Zapata, 49 Old Church St, London SW3

One thing that designer Antony Price really understands is pattern cutting : “I can think of a shape and create an optical illusion — people’s figures don’t change, clothes make figures.” Price, who designed all these clothes, wants women now to start looking artificially female, but “in a sumptuous way — this time it’s bosoms, hips and tiny waists”. He admits to being influenced by the Fifties and his ex-showgirl sister who lives in Miami and looks like his idol Jayne Mansfield. “The Fifties were less extreme, taste was incorporated into everything.” He wants shoes tall and dangerous like his own cowboy boots, but insists that his clothes (available direct or mail order from Che Guevara, 23 Kensington High St, W8) are comfortable. “What’s more comfortable than swimming costume tops?”

So, so good. Model, designer and photographer are the most perfect combination. It even has Manolo Blahnik shoes for good measure.

Model is Gala Mitchell.

Story by Valerie Wade.

Photographed by Karl Stoecker

Scanned from The Sunday Times Magazine, February 13th 1972.

Shiny one-piece outfit, £18. Shoes, Zapata.
Flocked nylon cocktail dress, £20.
Cotton suit that owes its shape totally to the cut, £18.
Batman Cire dress/cape, £20. Six inch boots, £25.
Deep V-necked ruched nylon dress, £12.99. 5-inch silver shoes, £18.

Mixed Spice

1970s, Browns, Chelsea Antiques Market, Emmerton and Lambert, Inspirational Images, Mohanjeet, Sacha, sunday times magazine, Valerie Wade, Vintage Editorials

There is nothing formal about these clothes even though a few years ago most people would have thought they were. They look exotic because the fabrics are either Eastern, or mixtures of Twenties silks and chiffons. Everything is quite simply cut and easy to wear; it is only the fabric combinations that are elaborate. There are many women who don’t like to admit, even to themselves, that clothes are of any importance in their lives — just because they are not striding around in shorts doesn’t mean that they lack style, they just don’t want to be instantly pigeon-holed by what they wear. The clothes shown here are perfect for all those women who “don’t care about fashion”.

Report by Valerie Wade.

Photographed by Sasha.

Scanned from The Sunday Times Magazine, April 4th 1971.

New dress from old fabrics; the bloomers are Thirties patchwork silks, the bodice is Indian and the sleeves Persian. Obviously no two are identical. From Emmerton and Lambert, Chelsea Antique Market, 253 Kings Road, SW3, £25.
Indian quilted chiffon skirt and bolero (£32) over gold painted chiffon blouse (also on cover), £10. All by Mohanjeet, from Browns, 27 South Molton Street, W1.
Skirt and blouse made from Twenties and Thirties silk chiffons. Skirt £15, blouse £10. From Emmerton and Lambert, Chelsea Antique Market, 253 Kings Road, SW3.
Reversible Indian wrap-around skirt and jacket in soft quilted lawn, £45. By Mohanjeet, from Browns, 27 South Molton Street, London, W1.
Multi-patterned dress in thick Indian cotton, £28. By Mohanjeet, from Browns, 27 South Molton Street, W1