It looks as if England has lost Jane Birkin forever … she is firmly entrenched in Paris with baby Kate, nanny and the lovely Serge Gainsbourg, living in sombre luxury in their newly acquired house. The interior is stark and dramatic, every room is decorated in black and white, with white doors and black marble floors or carpet. The furniture is also black and white—there’s a big black shiny piano in the lounge, and a black mink cover adorns the bed which is raised off the floor on a black perspex dais. Weekends are usually spent at a quiet retreat in the country, making a sharp contrast to the busy social life that they lead during the week. Since Jane landed in France she has never stopped working. Film after film has been completed and the success of the record she made with Serge, which was also written and composed by him, Je T’Aime … Moi Non Plus, has led to an LP also written by Serge. Her life is chaotic and busy, it seems as if the telephone never stops ringing. People phone her every day with offers of interviews and films, the next of which is still a closely guarded secret. It was whilst she was making her first film in France, Slogan, that she met and fell in lovewith Serge, an event which seems to have altered her life but through it all she remains the same—a waif of a girl, tall and lanky, in pullover and jeans, serving tea out of her treasured English teapot. Her wardrobe is noticeably small, consisting mainly of casual clothes like pullovers, T-shirts and jeans; with the occasional gipsy-type dress reserved for the evening and worn with gold chains, loop earrings and gipsy belts. She acquires most of her clothes by chance buying, rarely by intentionally setting out on a spending spree. Usually she just spots something she likes in a shop window and ends up by going in and buying it. In London she shops mainly at Countdown, Foale and Tuffin, and Quorum. She buys her jewellery from the Chelsea Antique Market. In Paris she favours the more trendy designers like Mia and Vicky or Jean Bourquin. Jane is perfectly happy spending hours hunting about in antique shops for interesting little knick-knacks, like the 18th-century doll’s house which she gave to her Serge for Christmas.
In this age of mass-production, finding clothes that have an individual look is becoming more and more difficult. But a few enterprising minds in London have got round the problem by buying old clothes, in beautiful prints that one doesn’t see these days, and remaking them in today’s styles. Though the styles are repeated, the materials are different and each garment is quite unique. If you don’t live in London, don’t despair. Look around for a clever seamstress who can copy the styles for you. Then, it’s a matter of combing jumble sales, or looking among granny’s cast-offs, for unusual prints. Don’t, however, cut up clothes in good condition. You’ll get a good price for these in London markets. And if you do come to London, go round the markets instead of the stores and boutiques – there’s a lot to be picked up!
An extraordinarily styled and photographed editorial featuring Van der Fransen, Emmerton and Lambert and Essences, all of whom were trailblazers in the world of vintage and recycled fashion.
This shoot also manages to answer two of my most frequently asked questions: what is your favourite editorial and what do you think the future of fashion will be. The former is probably a moveable feast, although this one is definitely up there with my other favourite, but the latter is still something I believe strongly. Especially in a post-pandemic landscape, I am not sure (and definitely hopeful) that we will ever see the same levels of mass production post-2020. Not for want of desire by the high street shops, but because people have maybe recognised that, actually, they don’t need armfuls of cheap synthetic, single-use garments. Perhaps the aesthetics and principles of these recyclers of the Sixties and Seventies will finally be adopted as our default? We could stop producing new clothes and fabrics right now and probably never reach the end of the piles of recyclable materials. And that’s not even taking wearable vintage garments into account. Do you feel your shopping habits have changed permanently?
White dress with music and rose print by Miss Mouse. Snakeskin shoes from Bilbo. Red and white spotted dress with white trimming by Miss Mouse.
Photographed in Singapore by Harri Peccinotti.
Scanned from 19 Magazine, May 1975.
Black and green floral print halterneck dress from Biba. Black and gold shoes by Sex. Green floral halterneck dress by Biba. Black and gold brocade shoes by Biba.
Shocking pink pintucked cotton dress by Sheridan Barnett at Quorum. Black snakeskin shoes by Bilbo. Red cotton sack dress with hip pockets by Sheridan Barnett at Quorum. Red suede and snakeskin shoes by Terry de Havilland.
Dusty pink sun dress with black piping by Strawberry Studio. Grey suede shoes by Terry de Havilland.
Blue cotton dress with Dorchester motif. Coffee dress with Savoy motif, both by Jeff Banks.
White cotton culotte dress by Stirling Cooper. White shoes from Secondhand Rose, Chelsea Antique Market. White cotton sun dress by Stirling Cooper. White shoes from Secondhand Rose.
Navy cotton sundress with cross over straps by Gordon King.
The style’s the same, but no two shirts are identical – they are made from 1930s remnants: £8 10s from Emmerton Lambert, Chelsea Antique Market, 253 King’s Road, London SW3.
Edina Ronay modelling some incredible pieces by Emmerton Lambert, one of the cult labels which emerged from the Chelsea Antique Market in the late Sixties. A classic example of the plundering of the 1930s by designers of the time but unlike those creating garments ‘in the style of’, they were instead using period fabrics to create a new, thrown together, patchwork kind of look. I think these have become my favourite kinds of pieces in recent years: perhaps because there’s a tangible link to both periods when you handle them.
Photographed by Hans Feurer.
Scanned from The Sunday Times Magazine, June 14th 1970.
Flashy rodeo look: all from Emmerton Lambert, Chelsea Antique Market.
Printed silk chiffon looped into a skirt, gathered from a tiny blue satin bodice, with blue satin ribbon at hem. By Zandra Rhodes, £89, at Fortnum & Mason. Tiered metallic platform shoes, 9gns, at Rowley & Oram of Kensintyon Market. Beaded choker, by Bibette, from range at Thea Porter. Rings from Hope and Eleanor, Chelsea Antique Market.
Another early appearance from Terry de Havilland, whose shoes were sold out of Rowley & Oram in Kensington Market and often not credited. I would [possibly] kill for those shoes. And the dress isn’t half bad either…
Some of the most perfect shells in the world get washed up on Stocking Island beaches; as does this small jacket and wide trousers in stripes from a beach umbrella. In crepe with a fine rolled gold chain almost invisible at the waist. By Tipper Ipper Appa, 25 gns, at Granny Takes a Trip. Chain with a small pearl, 40s, at Paris House. Striped scarves round the head, Lida Ascher Boutique. Enamel bird, Chelsea Antique Market.
Photographed by Arnaud de Rosnay. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, May 1969
Crepe skirt and printed chiffon blouse both at Quorum. Pink patent shoes at Elliott. Tights from Bus Stop.
If you are prepared to forsake the mini this summer for the midi or maxi, you will find that designers have compensated for covering the legs by boldly slashing the skirts at the front, the back and the sides. Photographed at The Chelsea Drug Store.
This is a fascinating editorial for a few reasons. Firstly it is photographed at the legendary Chelsea Drug Store, showing off the incredible interior to perfection. It singularly fails to credit Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell with their garments for Quorum (an odd oversight given their fame at the time…). It is also a glorious insight into the mini/midi/maxi debate of 1970 and shows us the transition between late Sixties style and the early Seventies. The clothes are familiar as early Seventies, but the shoes are not yet platform and still stuck in a low block heel.
Photographed by Hans Feurer. Styled by Cherry Twiss.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from The Telegraph Magazine (exact date unknown, Spring 1970)
Cream jersey dress at Marrian McDonnell. Gold sandals at Elliott. Onyx and silver ring from The Purple Shop.
Printed voile dress by Mary Quant. Suede granny shoes by Elliott. Victorian pendant at The Purple Shop, Chelsea Antiques Market.
Orange crepe dress at Bus Stop. Orange suede sandals at Elliott.
Dress by Radley Gowns from Quorum. Shoes from Kurt Geiger. Victorian pendant from The Purple Shop.
Puff sleeve sweater from Harrods. Small turquoise Acrilan bib sweater at Stop the Shop. Both by John Craig. Khaki ribbed bermuda shorts by Donald Davies. Tapestry clog boots by Jan Jensen.
A perfect winter look.
Photographed by Elisabeth Novick. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, February 1971.
Dusty pink puff sleeved sweater over a beige linen sweater. Both by Harold Ingram. Thick purple wool trousers at Biba. Striped socks, Ruskin at Kensington Market. Knit cap by Margaret Howell at The Sweet Shop. Rose in glass pin, Marie Middleton at Chelsea Antique Market. Jacquard sweater by Toto at branches of Crowthers. Mushroom beige sweater underneath by Harold Ingram. Royal blue cashmere shorts, McGregor of Dublin. Over the knee socks by Donald Davies.
Vest and pullover both by Alice Pollock at Quorum. Pink knitted shorts by Alistair Cowin at Grade One. All clogs from Mayfair Market. Puff sleeved sweater in stripes of tuqouoise, pink and navy, acrylic tibbed dark blue polo neck undeneath, dark blue knitted trousers rolled up. All by John Craig at Stop the Shop.
It’s safe to say that many people erroneously think that they were amongst the first to ‘do vintage’. Well, newsflash, you’re not. And neither were the stallholders at the Chelsea Antique Market, although perhaps they thought they were too. It’s the circle of [fashion] life.
Personally, I enjoy knowing I am part of a rich tapestry of people who liked wearing second hand clothing throughout history, and no amount of cheap journalism using vintage clothes in a cynical way will ever make me feel otherwise. You either ‘get it’ or you don’t…
Photographed by David Hurn. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Petticoat, October 1969