Celia Birtwell’s discreet yet substantial contribution to British fashion, interiors and art has been overlooked for decades. This autumn’s publication of a book penned by the designer with Dominic Lutyens is a welcome addition to THE LOOK library, writes Mrs G.
Archive for the 60s category
Not published for more than 40 years, this photograph captures Granny Takes A Trip founder Nigel Waymouth in the act of transforming the facade of the legendary boutique at 488 King’s Road in the summer of 1968.
A piece on mod fashions in new Mojo special MOJO ’60s affords the opportunity to run scans of an interview with Ian “Mac” McLagan from the April 1967 edition of pop magazine Rave.
Today THE LOOK was granted a sneak preview of some of the incredible exhibits to be featured in Rebel On The Row, the forthcoming exhibition celebrating the talents and legacy of the late Tommy Nutter.
The show is currently being installed at London’s Fashion & Textiles Museum, where it opens a week on Friday (May 20).
Curated by Timothy Everest – who was a Nutter trainee (others include John Galliano) – and the FTM’s Dennis Nothdruft, the show centres on exhibits contributed by such Nutter clients as Mick Jagger, Elton John, Cilla Black and Justin de Villeneuve.
Alan Holston has provided these photos from his time as of one the team at key 60s boutique Dandie Fashions.
Holston joined Dandie in 1966 when it was opened by Tara Browne and Neil Winterbottom with John Crittle and Freddie Hornik in premises in South Kensington. Tailoring was supplied by Foster & Tara, the business Browne set up with father and son team Pops and Cliff Foster.
At the beginning of 1967 – by which time Browne had been killed in the infamous car accident – Dandie moved to 161 King’s Road with a magnificent psychedelic decor courtesy of Binder Edwards & Vaughn.
Following the Chelsea boot post, here are a few images from THE LOOK archives which underline the pre-eminence of Anello & Davide’s variant the Baba boot in 60s pop.
Vintage fashion expert Lloyd Johnson explains the distinguishing features of the Baba: “They had wooden heels, Neolite (rubber resin) soles and very grainy soft leather uppers without a toe puff.”
According to Lloyd the Baba was priced £3 15/- (£3.75) in 1963. The Embassy, as worn by Pretty Things frontman Phil May (second left in the photograph above) were more expensive at £6.10/- (£6.50), due to the stacked leather heel and sole.
The story of the Chelsea Boot goes back to the 1830s, when they were known as paddock boots, their elasticated sides, snug fit, sturdy design and relative lightness a boon to the equestrian community.
According to traditional footwear suppliers Samuel Windsor, the shoe was originated by J. Sparkes-Hall, bootmaker to Queen Victoria (who wore them regularly).
In the mid-1950s they were sported as leisure-wear by the monied, young Chelsea Set which gathered in the King’s Road and frequented The Markham Arms, Mary Quant’s Bazaar and her partners Archie McNair and Alexander Plunket Green’s jazz club/restaurant Alexander’s.
Slimmed, with a centre seam and a heightened Cuban heel for Flamenco dancers, London’s theatrical shoemakers Anello & Davide introduced their version, the Baba boot (“a new Italian-inspired version of that long, lean look”) in the early 60s.
Soon the shoe design entered the visual language of rock & roll via fashion-mad teenage beatniks, art students and modernists.
Sex, Drugstores and Rock & Roll, which opens at Proud Chelsea next week, is a photographic exhibition chronicling the music + fashion scenes in the Kings Road from the 1960s to the 80s.
The show was sparked by the realisation among Proud staff that their premises at 161 Kings Road were occupied in the 60s by Dandie Fashions (which, as explained in this post, became The Beatles’ bespoke business Apple Tailoring under the stewardship of John Crittle in 1968).
The first edition of THE LOOK was launched with a party at Astral, Soho, in March 2001.
It was packed to the gills with media, well-wishers and many of the contributors.
Cover stars Pippa + James performed as Shopgirl and the DJs represented different eras covered by the book: Jeff Dexter played his mid-60s Tiles set; Don Letts + Dan Donovan shook the walls with the sounds Don played at The Roxy in 77; Jay Strongman span the early 80s music from The Dirtbox; and Count Indigo the 90s loungecore scene centred on his Madame Jo-Jo’s club Indigo.
Two years after we found a good home for Ossie Clark’s own snakeskin jacket, THE LOOK is pleased to feature another rare garment made from the snakeskin rolls the designer famously uncovered in a warehouse in 1966.
According to the owner – who is now prepared to part company with it – this is one of only three python coats produced by Clark; one of the others was apparently retained by his business partner Alice Pollock.
A pictorial tracking the incarnations of 430 King’s Road since the early 60s has been posted on my new blog.
Nick Tosches’ Dean Martin biography Dino: Living High In The Dirty Business Of Dreams memorably defines its subject as a menefreghista – “one who simply does not give a fuck”.
And if ever there was a garment which oozes menefreghismo, it is the vicuna overcoat.
Final preparations are being made to John Simons’ new shop at 46 Chiltern Street, in the simpa area of London’s West End wedged between Baker Street and Marylebone High Street.
The sign has yet to be erected and there are many finishing touches to be made but already the space is shaping up to present a unique offer. “I’m juxtaposing the clothes with my abiding interests in art and design over many years,” says Simons.
Simons has long been at the forefront of the field, with such rich associations as Cecil Gee in the 50s, The Ivy Shop in the 60s and 70s and J.Simons in Covent Garden for more than two decades up until February this year.
John Simons, Chiltern Street, London W1, November 30, 2010.
INSIDE JOHN SIMONS’ NEW STORE: “A MODERNIST’S DREAM”
[This was originally posted on December 7,2010]
Tomorrow see the opening of John Simons’ smart new retail outlet at 46 Chiltern Street, London W1.
These photographs were taken last week; much progress has been made since, but they should provide a flavour of the environment Simons and his team – including son Paul – are creating.
Formerly the site of a print shop, the premises have been transformed into a modernist’s dream, decorated with art, insignia, branding, furniture and design classics, some of which serve as fittings, such as the Penguin Donkey which will be used to display socks.
We wish Simons and his crew all the best in this new venture which returns this key figure to London’s style scene; next stop, apparently, is the online shop which follows soon.
Original clothing from Mr Freedom – the boutique operated by Tommy Roberts and Trevor Myles from 430 King’s Road in 1969-70 and then by Roberts in Kensington Church Street in 1970-71 – is now much sought-after.
These four items – including a roll of screen-printed fabric – are from Roberts’ own archive and are for sale. All are in excellent condition. Please direct all inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Designed by Diana Crawshaw, the front-tied “baseball suit” was one of Mr Freedom’s most famous creations, worn by many a pop star and celebrity.
This jacket is a contemporary size 10; the 14 label reflects how sizing has changed in the last 40 years. Like the jacket, the matching trousers are also size 10 and are made from cotton velvet from Mr Freedom’s supplier in Lyons.
The trousers came in three-quarter and full-length. These are the flares with an inch-and-a-half turn up and two labels – an interior one in the style of a Tom Wesselman nude with a sun-ray version stitched into the waistband at the back.
The unisex Western-style shirt is a typically exuberant example of Mr Freedom’s playful approach to pop archetypes, in contrasting mauve/scarlet with snap fastener buttons. This fits a 38in chest and has a 15-and-a-half neck size.
The printed crepe was used for a handful of shirts and, Roberts recalls, one dress. It was designed by Jane Wealleans, a member of the store’s design team along with her then-husband Jon Wealleans, who was responsible for the interior of the second Mr Freedom outlet.
The American football player motif draws inspiration from the William Klein film which gave the store its name. There are five metres of this, the only roll in existence.
Interested parties should contact THE LOOK here.
To coincide with the publication of the Anna Sui book, today THE LOOK publishes an exclusive interview with the New York designer.
Sui has also granted us access to these gems from deep in her archive: sketches which resulted in early 80s stagewear for Siouxsie Sioux.
Sui developed her fascination for the dynamics of music and style early.
“I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit dreaming about the British invasion, The Beatles and The Stones,” she says.
“My first concert was MC5 and The Stooges in a park, then along came Glam Rock and I was smitten. It wasn’t just the band that dressed up, but the audience too! Alice Cooper was my favourite. Todd Haynes captured that excitement at the beginning of Velvet Goldmine.”
//Todd Haynes captures the excitement at 4.20.//
Sui’s family visited New York every summer. One year they took in the Biba boutique in Bergdorf Goodman. “I was astounded by the colour selection of cosmetics, boots, t-shirts and beautiful clothes; I’d never seen colours like that: Dusty teal, plum, prune, rose…
“I bought a teal t-shirt with billowy sleeves – like the blouse I had seen on Jean Shrimpton when she came to Detroit for a Yardley cosmetics appearance – and teal eye shadow.”
Sui graduated via the NYC punk scene to create a small collection “for rock stars as well people that went to rock concerts”, selling through department stores and Patricia Field’s boutique on 8th Street.
In the early 80s Sui brought her “Rock and Roll Cowboy” range to London, when Siouxsie acquired the fringe jacket and skirt with faux-cowhide yoke.
While in London Sui caught Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s Pirates collection. “I went to the launch party and the next day bought an entire outfit from Worlds End,” she recalls. “At this time Gene Krell had a clothing boutique in the back of a record store, also on 8th, at MacDougal. Gene bought my collection, as did Trash & Vaudeville.”
Sui’s customers have run the rock & roll gamut, and she retains a fan’s enthusiasm for the artefacts of rock fashion, as regular readers will know from her recent contribution to this site.
As an addendum to that, here is a charming card for Betsy Bunky & Nini from Sui’s personal collection:
Among Sui’s most prized possessions is a complete run of the Hearst Corporation’s short-lived late 60s pop culture magazine Eye. “It covered fashion, music and film with a poster most issues,” she says.
//Eye magazine, clockwise from top left: Aug 68; Sept 68; Oct 68; March 69.//
“This was a very different time when information traveled in a much slower way. Any glimpse of what was going on in London or a story about a rock star was precious and went a long way in your imagination.”
Sui also collects vintage Ossie Clark and Zandra Rhodes. “I missed it the first time around so I’m making up for it now. I like their earlier pieces and wear them a lot. I’ve also collected the subsequent collections for various retailers recently and Zandra has made me a dress in my favorite feather print.”
It is this enthusiam for the keynotes of fashion history which propels Sui into making the smart choices, especially when it comes to fabric selection, palette control and photographic collaboration, from her good friend Steven Meisel to the fantastic(al) Sarah Moon.
Sui’s post-modern appeal is outlined by Jack White (whose wife Karen Elson is a favourite model of the designer’s) in his foreword to Sui’s fully illustrated 288-page tome (which is launched in the UK next week).
“It’s not retro or emulation or re-creation or even false modernity,” White writes of Sui’s aesthetic. “It is a beauty that can exist in any era – past, present or future – a beauty that does not fall prey to the wrath of novelty.”
Buy your copy of Anna Sui’s new book here.