Leather and fur get more expensive every year. It’s not only the taxes and rising costs of production. It’s just that there aren’t enough good animal skins for leather around to meet the consumer demand. Furs are there in quantity for the fabulously rich. Luckily a good substitute has been found – the nylon-spun, man-made sort. Some, especially in the leather field, are so like the real thing the only way you can tell the difference is by the smell. Take the white coat on pages 46 and 47. It’s fake and costs about £50. It has a double in real fur and leather for £270. Made by the same people who have duplicated most of their collection this way and it takes an eagle eye and nose to tell the difference. Others are just furry, woolly fabrics, obviously not imitating some four-legged friend, which is one of the nicest things about them. This fur fabric is now getting the treatment it deserves. Nairn Williamson (more famous for their Vinyl floor and wall coverings) were the first to see its potential and got six designers to use their Velmar fur fabric in their winter collections. Jane Whiteside for Stirling Cooper (new label getting famous fast for their beautiful jersey co-ordinates) was the cleverest of them all. She used the best sludgy colours, mixed it with needlecord to make a group of jackets and coats to go with trousers, skirts and blouses. Borg (American originated and the pioneers in England of this deep pile fabric) has been around for a long time, mostly on the inside of duffle and raincoats but it’s on the outside as a normal fabric that it looks its best. Next winter there will be a lot more of it around, now that designers are getting less snobby about plastics. Not only is it as warm as fur, it is, of course, much cheaper and you don’t smell like a wet dog when you come in from the rain, either. So you can wear it herding sheep on lost weekends, or in town queuing for the cinema without any guilt feelings about ruining your assets.
Insert obligatory ‘I don’t agree with the thrust of the argument for fake furs as just a financial consideration here’ caveat from me, your content provider. Don’t shout at me, basically. But it’s an interesting insight into the mindset of 1970, and the proliferation of fake furs and skins at that time. It’s also a breathtakingly styled and photographed work of art from Caroline Baker and Jonvelle.
Not only does leather feel good, it smells delicious, like a trip out West. Suede and chamois are even better than leather because they are so much softer and easier tow ear. They’re not as expensive as they used to be. Cheap they will never be if you want value for your money. Leather, properly looked after, lasts for age; in fact, the more beaten up and old it looks the better. So when it comes to buying remember that and invest in something safe – like the clothes photographed on these pages. Thy are not desperately in fashion but, on the other hand, they are not out and never will be…
Fashion by Caroline Baker. Photographed by Harri Peccinotti.
Nothing new has happened to swimwear for many summers. Colours and fabrics mark the fashion changes. The shapes stay the same. For a swimsuit is a swimsuit is a swimsuit- be it a one piece, a two piece, a half piece. And the shops are full of them. Lovely little things in super prints and colours. And that`s where the problems begin. They are little, very little indeed. Bikinis especially have got skimpier with every passing permissive year. A year ago a generously endowed size 12 could fit quite neatly into a size 12 swimsuit; today she has to squeeze herself into it and hope that all will stay put when in use. That is to say, if she can get into it at all. And to find a larger size is nigh impossible. The shops have either sold out already or else the buyer never stocked them, since, alas, the majority of today’s fashion- conscious ladies slim themselves down to the smaller sizes. Then there are the others- ‘them’, the unspeakable, unwearable, unsightly “them`, made by the British swimwear manufacturers especially for the fuller figure. And just one look at them is enough to put the fattiest, with good taste, off swimming and beaches for ever. The shapes are okay, for a swimsuit is a swimsuit is a swimsuit, but why couldn”t the manufacturers leave the voluptuous out of the swirls and violets and stretch-nylon crunchy fabrics? Why can`t they just make large swimsuits in plain and simple colours, stripes, dots and nice flower patterns? Meanwhile, until they all realise that the fuller figures sometimes have very good fashionable taste, all that`s left- apart from eating less — is to search among the rails of tiny inviting little bikinis and swimsuits in the hope of finding one that will do up.
Some things never change. I feel like we’re still having the same conversations about clothes now, and wistfully remembering a non-existent time when everyone was catered for and everything was of the highest quality. Still, of the highest quality are these extraordinary illustrations which, frankly, deserve to be framed and hung on a gallery wall…
Skyscraper heels announce a new, more refined shape for shoes in 1974. All the leading shoe designers endorse this feeling, though the heel heights vary. Yves Saint Laurent, that king of trendsetters, picks these – the highest. Thick platforms, the only real fashion story of the 70s so far, are out.
By Caroline Baker. Photographed by Harri Peccinotti.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Nova, January 1974.