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.

Paint just took a trip

1970s, amanda lear, Boston-151, Honey Magazine, Inspirational Images, Kansai Yamamoto, manolo blahnik, Vintage Adverts, zapata

paint took a trip nov 71

Probably the greatest paint advert of all time, featuring model and singer Amanda Lear wearing clothes by Kansai Yamamoto from Boston-151. Shoes are by Zapata (aka Manolo Blahnik).

Scanned from Honey, November 1971

Sock it to me Amanda Lear

1960s, album covers, amanda lear, interesting record sleeves

Sock it to me! The Now Generation.

Miss Amanda Lear on the cover of a seriously swinging LP from 1968, found in Cullompton, Devon of all places. For so many reasons, I could not resist buying it… Not least that the Batman-style ‘SOCK’ is actually attached to her boxing glove and not superimposed on the photograph.

Happy St BryanGod Day

amanda lear, brigitte bardot, bryan ferry, celia birtwell, david bailey, david bowie, diana rigg, Foale and Tuffin, kahn and bell, oliver reed, ossie clark, penelope tree, Serge Gainsbourg

Yes, it’s that time of year again. St BryanGod Day. Never heard of it? Pah.

To celebrate, here are some favourite couplings. Some romantic, some creative, some fictitious…

Vintage Adverts: Amanda Lear in Triumph

amanda lear, underwear, Vintage Adverts

I’ll take a Dorabelle T in Campari please!

I blogged about this advert ages ago, because she’s wearing a Jean Varon dress in the final picture. But at that point I didn’t recognise the model! How remiss of me. Scanned from Nova, November 1970, but I’m pretty sure it was an older advert than that.

 

Au revoir stinky old 2011. Happy New Lear!

amanda lear, fashion icons, mild sauce, seventies fashion

As is now my tradition, for I really rather loathe the whole New Year ‘thing’ with a passion, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Lear with a mini-picture spam of new Amanda pictures I’ve seen this year. Several have been pilfered from the fabulous Mr Tarkus. Merci!


Duffy (finally)

1960s, amanda lear, book reviews, brian duffy, jean shrimpton, michael sarne, mild sauce, pierre la roche, seventies fashion, the sweet

Queen magazine, 1963

Although you’ll all have long since forgotten that I promised to review the fantastic Duffy book (published by ACC. RRP £45 but currently £31.98 on Amazon.co.uk), I certainly haven’t and it’s been rather weighing on my mind. In fact, I’m troubled by the fact that I rarely seem to have the energy to type long, rambling blog posts at all these days.

So, as I often do, I will largely leave the photographs to do the communicating. Which is rather the point of the book itself. It is not a weighty tome about the life of the man, rather it is a weighty tome about the talent of the man. The talent which made him world-famous, but eventually left him feeling so trapped he had to [pretty much literally] destroy it in order to escape it. Page after page of gorgeous women, swinging dudes of the highest and lowest order and generally Interesting People. But it also covers the later period, the advertising and the selling-out, or ‘prostitution’ as he honestly described it.

I have to admit, I’m always on the look out for new Duffy shoots in my magazines because I’m almost rather bored of seeing the same ones shown again and again. And to be fair, of course, in Duffy’s case there is the genuine problem with the complete lack of original source material. His son Chris has spent years reassembling the archive, and I have to respect the labour of love that this project has become. Thankfully, the book is more varied than the exhibition I attended earlier this year would lead you to believe. I have scanned a few of my personal favourites, which I hope will communicate the beauty of his work.

A pet hate must be noted at this point, which is that these books rarely identify the designer of the clothes worn in the pictures. I know it doesn’t seem like much to a non-clothes obsessive, but I want to know if that dress really was by so-and-so and I find it infuriating for such information to be left out when surely it must be known?

Obviously, luxuriously printed and sized books such as this require the highest calibre of image quality for reproduction purposes, but it would be nice, in a few years time, to see a book which features more obscurities, more magazine tear-sheets and clippings; covering the lesser-known styles and techniques he used. For there are many. I mean, David Bailey has had enough books about him to last a lifetime; Brian Duffy certainly deserves another one.

Definitely one for the Christmas list. And watch out, because I’m going to be reviewing more books to put on your Christmas list over the next few weeks. Yes indeed.

Amanda Lear, 1971

Sweet, 1970

Unidentified, 1960s

Jean Shrimpton, Vogue 1962

Average White Band album cover, 1979

Michael Sarne, 1962

Pirelli, 1965

Pierre La Roche, Aladdin Sane make-up artist, 1973

Alphasud Car, Henley on Thames, 1974

Mike Henry and Nancy Kovack, 1964

Si tu cherches la bagarre?

amanda lear, disco, haute naffness, seventies fashion

I’m finally off for a few days to spend my second Christmas and only New Year with someone special, so I won’t be around to blog. Thank you all so much for your comments over the past few days, and indeed the past year. I’ve been doing silly hours at work for a few weeks now, so I haven’t had time to comment as much as I would like on all of your blogs, so it means a lot to me.

Enjoy your New Year celebrations, as small or as huge as they may be. I suspect mine will involve a lot of champagne coupe action, so I’ll raise a glass to all my dear readers and fellow bloggers and say…

Happy New Lear! 😉

An open letter to Bryan Ferry

amanda lear, bryan ferry, jerry hall, kari ann muller, kate moss, marilyn cole, roxy music

Dear Mr Ferry,

There seems to be some sort of immense cock-up, re. your new album. Those wags at the record company appear to have placed something called ‘Kate Moss’ on the front cover. How strange! How careless! Perhaps they need a little reminder of what a Roxy cover girl should really be like.

How kind of you to take the blame for them, by saying it was all your own idea. You’re such a gentleman. Although a little foolish, for who could believe that the BryanGod would ever deem Kate Moss to be a suitable Roxy girl?

You see, the big problem is that I wish to purchase your [surely] superb new piece of work, but I have an allergic reaction to Moss and cannot, therefore, get within a mile of it without breaking out in a rash. What a dilemma! What a pickle!

I look forward to purchasing from you again in the future, when sanity has been restored.

Yours faithfully,

Miss Peelpants

70s Style and Design

70s style and design, amanda lear, biba, book reviews, david bowie, janice wainwright, malcolm bird, mr freedom, noosha fox, seventies fashion, thea cadabra

There are many reasons to slobber and pore over Dominic Lutyens and Kirsty Hislop’s superb book 70s Style and Design, but the most spectacular image, for me, is the incredible shot of Noosha Fox which opens this review. I really do struggle to do ‘regular’ book reviews; I just want to scan the pretty images and gush most tragically over the contents. Assuming the contents are gush-worthy, but you needn’t worry about that with Seventies Style and Design.

From start to finish there are more lush visuals on offer than any other book tackling the era. It suffers, if suffering is exquisite, from the same problem as Marnie Fogg’s Boutique book in that, frankly, you’ll probably read it about twenty times before you actually come close to reading the text. I sat down, determined to read it from cover to cover for this review, and my determination was flagging after the midway point because I just wanted to gaze at the images. Which in turn got me thinking about the potential of a ‘double book’ where you have a separate tome dedicated to the images, and can sit down and properly concentrate on the written word; clearly researched extremely well and full of ‘new’ information, which just gets lost or swiftly forgotten amongst the visuals. Tricky, but well worth it, I reckon.

Biba in Nova


My gushing only hesitates at two issues, which is quite amazing for picky little me. The first is probably too general to explain properly, the second is horribly specific.

Firstly, the ‘theming’ of the subject matter into edible chapter-sized chunks (Pop to Post-Modernism, Belle Epoque, Supernature and Avant Garde). I completely understand the motivation behind this, and the themes aren’t your average “chapter one: Psychedelia, chapter two: Glam Rock” type. Thank goodness. Thought and care has gone into them. But it’s always going to struggle a bit in an era which the authors even admit was something of a ‘free for all’ in its style and design themes. You could be forgiven for exiting from the last page with an idea that the Seventies was relentlessly fabulous, iconic and glamorous in its appearance. They even make punk look mouth-wateringly elegant. It is wide in its coverage, but it still orbits only in the atmosphere of what is now perceived to be interesting, beautiful and/or iconic. Which is a curious kind of Russian doll trap, given that the chapter on the Art Deco revival goes into the very interesting notion of cherry-picking from the Twenties and Thirties.

“A defining characteristic of all this Biba fuelled nostalgia or ‘retro’ – a word first coined, appropriately, in the 1970s – was that it wasn’t purist but pluralist. Many of its fans were too young to have witnessed these eras, and so interpreted them in whichever way they fancied, usually viewing them through rose-tinted lorgnettes and blithely glossing over such crises as the 1926 General Strike and the Great Depression.”


Page 73, 70s Style and Design


I’m not sure how self-aware the authors are, but it amused me to see this in a book which itself contributes to the modern synthesis of the Seventies into a more glamorous, louche and decadent era than most ‘average’ people who lived through it would recall. I know I’m guilty of much the same thing, especially when writing my blog and listing my wares, but I’m also deeply attracted to the more mundane, everyday primary sources. I love dull, contemporary documentaries, unfunny and borderline-gloomy sitcoms, films and dramas, pictures of slightly iffy looking people in iffy looking clothes and naff interiors and objets. It can’t always be high-gloss, high-sparkle.

I know examples of bad taste are ‘clichés’, but many great aspects of the Seventies are in danger of becoming as much clichés themselves. See the likes of Lady GaGa. When one becomes tired of Bowie, has one become tired of life? Sadly, I have found myself pondering this lately.

Saying that, it’s always wonderfully refreshing to read a book about Seventies design which doesn’t set out to sneer or incite howls of I-can’t-believe-people-dressed-like-that laughter.

Amanda Lear in an advert for paint


Plus, high-gloss and high-sparkle are exactly what we need these days. And I don’t blame anyone choosing to jettison Gloomy Style and Design from their research, not least because the book would be twice the length and half the fun with those things included.

A waitress at ‘Mr Feed’em’


My second criticism, and it really is horribly specific, is the omission of Janice Wainwright. There! I said it was specific. If you want a pure-as-the-purest-spring-water example of the best of the Seventies aesthetic, I would say she was high up amongst the greats. Ossie, Biba, Mr Freedom, Bill Gibb are included, certainly, but Janice remains as yet unsung. In a book which gives us references to Universal Witness, Antony Price’s Plaza, Manolo Blahnik’s Zapata, Strawberry Studio and Kitsch-22, it seems a shame to leave anyone out!

Mouth-watering textiles


What I love about the design of the book is that there are plenty of full-page, high quality images which have never been seen before, interspersed with a more scrapbook-esque mish mash of visual references. Adverts, photoshoots, posters, labels; some are annoyingly small but it’s just so nice to see them all included without any detriment to the written word. The inclusion of many lesser-known designers and characters is quite wonderful; I hadn’t encountered Thea Cadabra and her incredible shoes (see front cover) before, and now I’m a bit obsessed.

Also, any book which contains a half page reproduction of a Malcolm Bird illustration, the aforementioned full page photo of Noosha Fox and which uses the word ‘splendiforously’ is always going to take pride of place on my bookshelf.

Highly recommended for any vintage wishlist this Christmas (and beyond).

Malcolm Bird’s illustration for Biba