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.
On Thursday evening at 8 o’clock The Avengers comes back. Viewers in London, Scotland and the South will see it, other channels will have to wait until October 2. The new show lacks one vital element. Honor Blackman, who played Cathy Gale, that female gauleiter with a heart of gold, has left television for films and the arms of James Bond.
She is replaced by rangy, redheaded Diana Rigg, an actress already blooded for knock-about violence in shows like King Lear and The Devils with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She plays the new Avenger woman Emma Peel, who is described by A.B.C. television as “the youthful widow of an ace test pilot, daughter of a wealthy shipowner, and an internationally educated symbol of the jet-age female”.
A strong-arm widow, born with such disadvantages, couldn’t fail to be an interesting autumn draw, but the new girl will find it hard work to oust the memory of Cathy Gale from the spot she kicked out for herself in these shows. For, as Cathy Gale, Honor Blackman was mesmeric. Male viewers turned to pulp in their armchairs as she hurled opponent after opponent through plate glass windows, and their TV dinners turned to dust as she half-nelsoned men twice her size.
Women were fascinated too, but for different reasons. They sat glued to their sets wondering what it was she had, that they hadn’t. Her slightly sinister but wholly fathomable allure had little to do with her natural assets ; her toughness, the purring reassurance of her voice, her earthiness ; her blonde hair and wide mouth. Cathy Gale’s real appeal was firmly laced into the shiny black leather of her fighting suits.
The black leather fighting suits she wore, now generally referred to as ‘kinky clothes’ were designed by Frederick Starke. They proved such a success both here and in the U.S.A., where the last series was sold, that the American business men controlling the sales insisted that these clothes should be retained for the next series. This was a mistake. Fashion moves much faster than most business men, and the feeling for black leather was on the wane, long before the last episode was off the screen. But A.B.C. agreed to the American conditions, and Emma was togged up in black leather and boots, looking just like Cathy Gale in a long red wig.
Before the new series was half-way through, the planners realised that some fairly startling changes were taking place in the fashion world. Skirts were getting shorter and women appeared to be crossing their thighs, not their knees. Leather was out. All sorts of animal skins, from snakes to zebras, were in. And op and pop art were having an explosive effect on textile design.
This series is the first to be made on film instead of videotape, which means it could be running in different countries all over the world for the next five to ten years. It would be pushed to keep its con-temporary smack with a limping gimmick like black leather. At this point, with half their film in the bag, A.B.C. called in fashion co-ordinator Anne Trehearne, an ex-fashion editor of Queen magazine, and asked designer John Bates of Jean Varon to plan a new wardrobe for Emma Peel to wear during the last 14 episodes. John Bates is the man who made the now famous daisy dress which 25 red-faced debutantes wore to the same ball.
Designing a wardrobe for a preconceived image is no easy task, but he succeeded in doing this and more besides. His clothes are 100 per cent. modern. He has shortened the skirts (in spite of tough opposition in certain quarters at A.B.C.), re-designed the black leather fighting outfits into modern, one-piece jump-suits, introduced tailored snakeskin and a whole range of op art furs.
In all there are 35 garments with complementary accessories. And for the first time the whole collection will be sold in the shops. (Frederick Starke did sell some of Cathy Gale’s wardrobe, but only selected items.) Over 12 well-known manufacturers, like Edward Rayne, Paul Blanche and Kangol, are co-operating with John Bates at Jean Varon and are making the shoes, the skin coats and the berets under licence; Echo are even making the amusing ribbed sheer nylon stockings. They will all be in the shops in October.
Both the clothes and the series are now saleable properties. It will be interesting to see which proves the biggest draw to interested buyers the striking new clothes or the shiny new girl.
Photographed by David Gittings.
Story by Meriel McCooey.
Scanned from The Sunday Times Magazine, September 26th 1965.
Suddenly this summer the shops are selling masses of hats that before would have only been dug up for garden parties, weddings, sports days or camping it up. For years magazines and designers have shown their clothes with hats, but they don’t usually turn up in the street. Fashion editors often feature ‘picture hats’ like those on the previous page posed in some romantic setting or framing an immaculate new make-up, but one never actually sees them on a number 19 bus. Now hats have gone the way of all clothes; there are no rules; you can wear anything with anything. Any hat, whether it’s wide-brimmed and floppy with half a haberdashery department stuck over it, or a small crocheted cloche pinned with a bunch of plastic fruit, i fine with either nostalgic Forties’ dresses or a dirty old pair of jeans. And you can still wear it to a wedding if you want to.
Modelled by Jean Shrimpton.
Photographed by Hans Feurer.
Scanned from The Sunday Times Magazine, June 20th 1971.
The numbers that The Moodies perform are firmly anchored in the Fifties and Sixties and ignore the current pop obsessions for necrophilia, drugs, suicide and the like. But under their bizarre make-up they are entertainers of the Seventies, rather than a group of decadent kids living off the nostalgia for ‘golden oldies’. On a good night, when the audience is firmly on their side, they create an atmosphere more like that of a private party than a sterile public performance; they earn their laughs through the juxtaposition of songs, their eccentric make-up, their idiotic props and their energetic dancing.
About a month ago, when they were playing at the tiny Moderna Theatre in Munich’s Schwabing district (surely the cleanest ‘quarter’ in the world), we noticed that the audience of all ages, shapes and sizes, were neatly dressed to the last man and woman; even their jeans had the knife-edge creases of an expensive boutique — the complete opposite of the people they had come to watch, who were described recently in Time Out as “looking like half a dozen friendly whores after a hard night in the Reeperbahn”.
“Everyone here tries to get us to mend our sweaters, they feel sorry for us. They think a hole is a sign of poverty. They wear the gear but they don’t understand what it’s about.
Perhaps that’s why we appeal to them,” said Anne Bean, who is a deceptively homely-looking girl off-stage and a powerhouse of energy on. She is one of the leaders of the group, though she denied that anyone actually led : “We are totally democratic -not that there is such a thing.” All art students at Reading, it was the second time they had played Munich. They banded together to play professional dates after they had sat their finals; they all passed except for buxom Suzy Adderley, who is on one year’s leave of absence and goes back soon to complete her course. They tried their luck at the Edinburgh Festival along with the rest of the Fringe: this was successful enough to land them their first book-ing in Munich.
“Actually, we were offered an Arts Council grant but we turned it down as we thought that it might restrict us,” said Rod Melvin, the pianist and the only man in the group. They still don’t have a pro-ducer, director, manager or agent. The only non-performing person to travel with them is Mickey Ekers who is a stage-manager-cum-electrician-cum-prop-master.
In the early days there were six girls, Anne Bean, Marianne Holliday, Polly Eltes, Suzy Adderley, Annie Sloan and Becky Bailey, but Becky Bailey deserted the group to paint. Anne Bean explained: “We really did the show as part of our finals.” Did this help them pass ? “Quite the contrary. It nearly sank us.”
At the start they followed the traditions of what was happening in pop music at that time: “Even the names we chose were just send-ups of those currently fashionable girlie groups like Lulu and the Luvvers and Martha and the Vandellas” said Anne Bean. “At one time we called ourselves Frank and the Furters” (she looked suitably ashamed) “then Lulu and the Lesbians, then prior to becoming The Mooches we were The Menstrual Seven.”
Before returning to Munich they had been playing at the Theatre at New End, Hampstead, where they had become quite a cult with late-night audiences. The group do num-bers like Gingold’s and Chevalier’s duet Ah Yes, I Remember It Well from Gigi and some of the more aggressive Presley songs, but they interpret these rather than imitate the originals. They make no announcements and use no words in spite of ‘gag fur gag’ written on the pink stars advertising the show. And they are very funny. Thank You For Being An Angel sung with melancholic grace by Rod Melvin became farce as the angel who drifted around stage shedding sequins at every step turned out to be a cross between Mae West and Jayne Mansfield. (Melvin is a talented pianist; the rest of the group are not musicians, but rely instead on improvisation and innovation.)
The make-up is startling. Polly Eltes said: “I really don’t quite know how we arrived at this present look. We started off quite simply looking brown and rather natural with perhaps blue eyelids, but gradually we progressed to what you see now.” They wear water-based wet-white foundation and then draw their features on to these masks. Anne Bean takes it the furthest by banding strips of coloured feathers to her eyebrows, while Rod Melvin, with his great carmine mouth and black sad eyes, looks somewhere between a clown and a Kabuki artist.
“I suppose we do reflect fashions, but I think it’s quite unconscious,” said Annie Sloan. “When Germaine Greer’s book came out (The Female Eunuch) we all wore strict little mannish suits, but somehow we have come to this.” ‘This’ is fishnet tights (with holes), gold-painted lace-up boots, long gloves and clothes they say they make themselves (which no-one would challenge). During the performance they swap clothes so that they look different but don’t use more costumes.
“I suppose that what we wear might seem eccentric and exaggerated; everyone marvels at Rod’s shoes but they came from Dolcis and mine came from Biba’s, so we are only picking up what’s around.” They admit that their art training and observations have probably influenced their act — the masks they wear at one point are exactly like those shown on some of John Davies’s sculptures shown at the Whitechapel Gallery a couple of years ago : “But we don’t want to intellectualise what we do,” said Annie Sloan, “or we might become self-conscious and unable to perform.”
The group pool their money; so much goes on running expenses, the rest on food and necessities. They were scheduled for seven more weeks on the road, ending at the Schiller Theatre in East Berlin. “When we are out of work we all do other things. I model, though I’m not much good at it,” said Polly Ekes. “I can’t really take it seriously, so when I go for jobs I mostly get turned down.” Rod and Anne teach, and sometimes Rod plays the piano for a girl singer and Marianne does typography and pho-tography. It is doubtful whether they will stick together : one has the feeling that they are enthusiastically filling in time before they move on to some-thing else.
Photographed by Hans Feurer. Report by Meriel McCooey.
Scanned from The Sunday Times Magazine, June 23rd 1974
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.
Val Moon and Debbie Hudson, known for classic knitted tube dresses and leotards, decided to liven things up by adding some mad accessories to their range: a snake boa made from wool, chenille and metallic threads, which can be wired on to any plain outfit, coiled any way the wearer chooses; outsized dragonflies: sinister vampire bats complete with with red beads scattered like drops of blood (popular with Dracula fans) and exotic orchid lilies. The accessories are not cheap, costing from £10 to £25, and the strapless tube dresses cost £45: all to order from Chantal, 73 St John’s Wood High Street, London, NW8. Words: RAE LAURIKIETIS Pictures: JANE ENGLAND.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from The Sunday Times Magazine, October 22nd 1978.
Another pair of ‘lost’ knitwear designers. Why do knitwear people seem to get lost much more easily? If anyone knows anything about Val or Debbie, please do let me know! These accessories are so perfect.