Archive for the books category

Polaroids from THE LOOK’s launch party 2001

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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.

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Yamamoto’s first UK show + the launch of Paradise Garage

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//From Daily Express, May 14, 1971.//

This photograph of designer Diana Crawshaw from the Daily Express Wiliam Hickey column was taken the day after a momentous event in post-war style; on Wednesday May 12 1971, Kansai Yamamoto showed his new collection at Tom Salter’s Great Gear Trading Company at 85 King’s Road, inaugurating appreciation of Japanese fashion design in the West.

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Tenth anniversary of THE LOOK

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The first edition of THE LOOK was published 10 years ago this month.

This is a corrected colour proof of the publisher’s “blad” – marketing/sales printed material for circulation in the book trade.

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The vicuna overcoat – menefreghismo to the max

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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.

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John Simons’ new shop

John Simons new shop, Chiltern Street, London W1.

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.

As explored in THE LOOK, Simons is the nonpareil purveyor of the finest US menswear brands, in particular those associated with Ivy League and the 50s/60s modernist movement in clothes.

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 at his new shop in Chiltern Street, London W1.

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]

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John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

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.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

As noted, the locale is perfect for Simons, whose outlet is in the company of such stores as Grey Flannel, Archer Adams and Mario’s barbershop.

John Simons new store, Chiltern Street London W1.

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.

John Simons' new store, 46 Chiltern Street, London W1.

Anna Sui exclusive: Interview, book preview + archive gems

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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.

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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.”

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//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:

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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.

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//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.”

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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.

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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.

Inside Betsy Bunky Nini

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Ahead of our exclusive on the fab Anna Sui book – written with Andrew Bolton of the NY Met’s Costume Institute featuring forewords by Jack White and Steven Meisel – here’s a tasty slice of rock design history Anna turned us on to a couple of months back.

This ad was shot in the legendary NYC boutique Betsy Bunky Nini, founded by Betsey Johnson, Anita Latour and Linda Mitchell in 1969 on 53rd Street, between Second and Third.

“Notice that they have Ossie Clark on the racks,” says Anna, who later lived on the same block (which, of course, was made notorious by The Ramones’ 53rd & 3rd).

“The other fashion stores on this block included Norma Kamali, whose shop at the time was all patchwork velvet and snake skin, and Sweet Shop with clothing from London. For a while Johnny Thunders and Sylvain Sylvain (of the New York Dolls) sub-let Norma’s apartment on 53rd Street.”

As well as designing, BN&N imported European lines and also styled shoots: they “stage managed” the front cover of Dolls’ debut album.

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When Johnson moved on to Alley Cat and then international success with her own label, Mitchell took over B&NN and shifted premises to 980 Lexington Avenue.

Read more about the original BN&N in Chapter 13 of THE LOOK – and look out for our exclusive on Anna’s new book: coming to this blog soon!

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Fabulous new David Bowie book is crammed with delights

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//David Bowie wears John Stephen on a modeling assignment with Jan De Souza in Kingly Street W1 for Fabulous 208, 1965. Photo: Fiona Adams//

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//Up on the roof, central London 1967. Photo: Kenneth Pitt. //

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//Ziggy Stardust’s first photo call, 1972. Photo: Brian Ward/David Bowie Archive.//

Any Day Now, the new book about David Bowie’s London life between 1947 and 1974, is hands-down the music book publishing sensation of the year.

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And THE LOOK has been granted exclusive access to the new book, which has been written and compiled by Bowie expert Kevin Cann and is out next month.

Any Day Now’s 320-plus pages are crammed with delights both factual and visual, charting Bowie from his birth, background and childhood interests in music, design and art through to his beginnings in local beat groups and eventual world-beating success.

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//In Paddington Street Gardens, central London, 1969. The bag was designed by Alan Mair of The Beatstalkers (and later The Only Ones). Photo: Kenneth Pitt.//

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//Rocking the Keith Relf look with The Manish Boys, 1965. Photo: Bob Solly//

22. Wedding1 copy

//With Angie (Angela Barnett) outside Bromley register office on their wedding day, March 20, 1970. The couple wore clothes bought the previous day at Kensington Market. Bowie’s Courrèges belt was a gift from friend Calvin Mark Lee. Photo: Kentish Times.//

As a document of the most important image-maker of our times, it is unparalleled, reflecting Cann’s decades-long absorption in his subject and access to original sources and important material.

Curious-mag

//In Mr Fish mandress on the cover of Curious magazine with Freddie Buretti, May 1971.//

Any Day Now is a must for fans of music and fashion, detailing Bowie’s stylistic development as he moved through r&b and mod via folkie and hippie to glam androgyny, drawing on such touchstones of THE LOOK as John Stephen, Dandie Fashions, Kensington Market, Mr Fish, Freddie Buretti, City Lights Studio and Kansai Yamamoto.

David Bowie. 1968

//At producer Tony Visconti’s apartment in Lexham Gardens, west London, 1968. Photo: Ray Stevenson.//

There is a fascinating foreword written by Kenneth Pitt, who managed Bowie between 1967 and 1970, and contributions from a cast of hundreds, including close friends and fellow musicians.

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//Any Day Now Limited Edition.//

A special limited edition of 475 copies is also being published in hardback, numbered and signed in black cloth-bound clam-shell cases with reproductions of tickets, posters and memorabilia. Each also contains a print of a rare colour photo taken of Bowie in 1967 by Gerald Fearnley (who has signed them).

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//Any Day Now Limited Edition with signed Gerard Fearnley photograph.//

To find out more and order copies of the limited edition, click here.

In praise of the most XLNT Demob

For our money, Demob doesn’t receive enough acknowledgment for its considerable and enduring contribution to British style.

//Exterior, 47 Beak Street, Soho, London, 1983. Photo: Rex Features//

We’re proud there is a shout to this combination boutique, fashion label and design/music collective in Chapter 26 of THE LOOK.

//Full-page ad, The Face 24, April 1982//

Following the discovery in an old trunk of some fab pieces bought there – blimey! – at least a quarter of a century ago, it seems apposite to celebrate the creative hub founded by Chris Brick in 1981.

Collecting a group of like-minded fashion players (including fellow son of Merthyr Chris Sullivan), Brick assumed occupancy of the former fishmonger’s at 46 Beak Street in London’s Soho, retaining the wonderful tiled interior and many of the fixtures.

In May 1981 Demob had been part of the British “Blitz invasion” of New York along with Sullivan, Jon Baker of Axiom, journalist Robert Elms, photographer Graham Smith, the members of Spandau Ballet and others, including then-Demob designers Sade Adu and Sarah Lubell. Read about that at David Johnson’s Shapers Of the 80s.

//Debut 5: Pages 46-47. Thanks to Dalston Oxfam Shop//

//Debut 5: Pages 48-49. Thanks to Dalston Oxfam Shop//

Back in the UK Demob clothes were regularly featured in fashion and style mags, with the spreads above modelled by Susie Bick in the short-lived 12sq in Debut, which included a free vinyl compilation.

//”Prison shirt”, 1984//

Also selling through such venues as Chelsea’s Great Gear Market, and later “Disco Dave”’s  King’s Road shop Review, Demob pulled off the feat of transforming the 40s aesthetic suggested by the name into a glamorous offer, with fabulously-tailored garments in drilled cotton, denim, tweeds and other utilitarian and sometimes unusual fabrics.

From the get-go music played a powerful part of the Demob mix; their legendary warehouse parties gave breaks to such club pioneers as Noel Watson.

Arguably the most prominent designer associated with Demob was Willie Brown, who had made his name at the fashion-forward Modern Classics in Shoreditch’s Rivington Street.

//71 Rivington Street, London EC2, 1980. Photo: Derek Ridgers//

Within a few years Brown had established his own Old Town imprint with a satellite store also in Beak Street. This introduced the XLNT quadrant logo and the excellence of the designs lead to  widespread rag trade plagiarism, particularly the heavily stitched “Soul Bay” anoraks with black and white checkered detailing.

Demob also spawned Demop, the hairdressers which occupied a space on the other side of Beak street at the top of St James’ Street. Among the employees here was another person who would go on to make his name in global street fashion (and also featured in THE LOOK), Fraser Cooke.

//Left: ABC’s Mark White in “Soul Bay” anorak//

The yoked prison shirt you see here is made from exactly the same fabric as that provided to guests of Her Majesty at that time.

Once, driving away from my flat in Brixton Hill in the mid-80s a couple of likely geezers in the next car spotted me wearing it and, assuming I had just left the gates behind me, asked what I’d been inside for.

Demob had more than enough brushes with the law itself and was eventually closed after the hell-raising and parties became too much for the neighbouring businesses and local Old Bill.

Brick and his wife Judy went on to found NY stores Smylon Nylon and The Centre For The Dull, where he circulated his much-sought after Smylonnylon mixtapes. Check out where he’s at these days with his online music video presence Brickchannel.

The spirit of Demob’s uniquely crafted take on British clothing design has resided for some years at Will (as he has has been known for a while) Brown and Marie Willey’s great Old Town Clothing.

From their Norfolk base they produce  50 individually-made garments each week in such natural fabrics as cotton twill, tweed, drill, serge and denim. For superb clothing that will last 25 years and beyond – like those pieces which re-entered my life recently – THE LOOK can’t recommend Old Town Clothing highly enough.

XLNT! The spirit of Demob lives on.

World exclusive: Vintage provocation from Malcolm McLaren

Today we wash away the aftertaste of Mark Gatiss‘ woeful Malcolm McLaren impersonation (in the other night’s equally dire BBC Boy George docudrama Worried About The Boy) with some vintage provocation from the master.

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//8min 04secs: “We’ve got to make fucking sure we create enough hatred before the record comes out…”

The anti-Pistols letters McLaren engineered to the music press in 1976 are the subject of  a very funny scene with secretary Sophie Richmond in The Great Rock & Roll Swindle.

Yet none has been published before. Until now.

This missive from a late 1976 issue of music paper Sounds appeared amid the media frenzy over the Grundy fiasco and the chaotic Anarchy tour.

Capturing the fatuous tone of his hero Joe Orton’s troublemaking correspondent Edna Welthorpe, “Roxy Music follower” says the group are “a bunch of bloody loonies whose manager is just as bad, running a sex shop…” and even mentions the line Richmond uses in The Swindle: “I doubt if they’ve got one O-Level between them.”

We especially like the description of punk attire: “Tatty clothes pinned together with last week’s porridge.”

The music press  letters were but one facet of McLaren’s arsenal of incitement, yet they helped achieve the same result as Orton’s Welthorpe character (who regularly lambasted the controversial playwright in print).

The fires of moral outrage were stoked and, more satisfyingly, the attention of polite society (in this case the moribund music business) was wholly engaged. An audacious manouevre by anybody, let alone a rock & roll manager, and totally in keeping with the invention, wit, style and chutzpah which McLaren embodied and Worried About The Boy miserably failed to evoke.

Mick Jones on books, boutiques and the magic of Malcolm

Bit late I know, but here are some exclusive photos (courtesy of Chelsea Space director Donald Smith) from the recently staged discussion between Mick Jones and I as part of the Shards Of Utopia evening at Tate Britain.

 

//Listening to the introduction from the evening’s moderator Jen Thatcher// 

Donald is the key connector: Mick’s Rock & Roll Public Library made a return for a concentrated period to Chelsea Space as part of the gallery’s fifth birthday celebrations, while my Barney Bubbles exhibition will be held there in September – more details soon.

 

Clad in an Adam Of London chalk-stripe two-piece suit against a backdrop of some of the paperbacks from his collection, Mick revealed he has two copies of my Barney book Reasons To Be Cheerful. This was flattery indeed; my admiration for the man goes back to The Rainbow in May 1977 and flourished through his B.A.D. years onto Carbon/Silicon and the recent and rightly acclaimed collaboration with Gorillaz

 

//With Tate curator Cecilia Wee// 

Shards Of Utopia was curated by writer/academic Cecilia Wee; Mick and I were down to natter about the sci-fi and conspiracy theory books in his library but we couldn’t let the opportunity go without discussing the importance of Malcolm McLaren

 

My fascination for McLaren’s creation of brave new worlds, alternate spaces and artificial environments (see Let It RockToo Fast To Live Too Young To DieSEXSeditionariesWorlds End and Nostalgia Of Mud) was enlarged upon by Mick’s formative memories of not only frequenting those shops but also witnessing the Sex Pistols live for the first time.

 

“You came away a different person from all those experiences,” he said. “Without Malcolm, none of us would be doing what we’re doing today. It’s so sad we won’t hear any more of his great ideas; not just the Pistols and the shops but things like Waltz Darling, the Surf Nazis film, Duck Rock…it was just endless with him.”  

 

For a select few the evening ended with Mick accompanying himself at Chelsea Space on acoustic for a rendition of Should I Stay Or Should I Go?. Amid rumours of a B.A.D. reformation, the success with Gorillaz and the acceptance of the Rock & Roll Public Library as a living, breathing and evolving creative environment, the answer is a very definite: don’t be going anywhere soon, Mick. We loves ya.

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Since the genius Shawn Stussy has recently re-entered the game with a great new blog and new label S/Double Studio (thanks for hipping us, Disney Rollergirl) it seems fitting we should play out with a fave of THE LOOK and one which inextricably links Mick to the International Stussy Tribe – B.A.D.’s The Globe:

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Willow wins 70s Style & Design competition!

We have a winner of our competition for a copy of Kirsty Hislop and Dominic Lutyens’ estimable 70s Style & Design.

 

Congratulations to Willow Timmons of Cardiff, whose name was picked out of the hat for providing the correct answer to the question:

Which album design by Barney Bubbles for Ian Dury & The Blockheads featured 28 front cover variations of 1970s Crown wallpaper patterns?

It was, of course,  Do It Yourself – read all about the story behind the design here.

Your copy of 70s Style & Design will be winging its way from publisher Thames & Hudson to you very soon Willow.

Commiserations to the many other entrants and best of luck next time – we have more exciting competitions coming this way soon.

Win a copy of 70s Style & Design!

We’re celebrating the New Year with an exclusive competition to win a copy of the spiffing new book 70s Style & Design.

The competition is in conjunction with the Barney Bubbles Blog; the fine folk at Thames & Hudson have supplied us with the prized copy which will go to the person who answers correctly the question at the bottom of this post.

 

We’ve already detailed the excellence of Kirsty Hislop and Dominic Lutyens’ book here; suffice to say that it is packed with such nuggets as the “Mondo Trasho” spread above, which treats us to views of Duggie Fields in his Earls Court apartment (which he once shared with Syd Barrett) in the mid-70s – that’s Duggie top left in a red cerise SEX t-shirt.

On the right is the 1977 interior of The Rocky Horror Show designer Brian Thomson’s abode, where flying ducks are matched with a lampshade made from a Seditionaries‘ Anarchy In The UK tee.

For a chance to win a copy of this visual feast, send us your answer to the following question:

Which album by Ian Dury & The Blockheads featured 28 front cover variations of 1970s Crown wallpaper patterns?

MAIL YOUR ANSWER TO: thelook@rockpopfashion.

THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON JANUARY 14.

Be lucky and Happy New Year!

Foale & Tuffin book competition: we have a winner!

The winner of our Christmas book competition is Lynn Mayes from Chula Vista CA, to whom we’re sending a copy of Iain R. Webb’s Foale & Tuffin book The Sixties. A Decade In Fashion for knowing that the Youthquake promotion of young British style in the US took place in 1965.

 

Congrats To Lynn and commiserations to the rest of you, but don’t be down – in the next few days we’re posting yet another competition giveaway: a signed copy of Kirsty Hislop and Dominic Lutyens’ excellent 70s Style & Design could be yours in the New Year!

 

Foale & Tuffin: Christmas book competition

At last the contribution made by Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin to post-war women’s-wear receives just recognition in the recent publication of Iain R. Webb’s Foale And Tuffin: The Sixties. A Decade In Fashion.

 

//Outside the Foale & Tuffin boutique in Marlborough Court, Soho, London c. 1965// 

Together with the current Fashion & Textiles Museum exhibition, Webb’s book places the too-often overlooked pair dead-centre of that hectic decade, selling through Woolands 21 Shop, pioneering with their own off-Carnaby Street boutique, leading the Youthquake promotion in the US and supplying the general public and the beautiful people (including Pattie and Jenny Boyd, Twiggy, Susannah York and Francoise Hardy) with collection after collection of demure yet sexy fashions.

  

In today’s Christmas special we not only publish these images and an exclusive interview with Webb but have up for grabs a FREE copy of the book to one lucky person who answers the question at the end of this post correctly. Be quick – the competition closes at midnight on Christmas Day – we’ll be announcing the winner on Boxing Day!

 

//James Wedge, 1964. Photo: James Wedge// 

Brimful with original sketches, press cuttings, personal photographs, labels and ephemera, the narrative of this hugely attractive tome is created from the anecdotal and often insightful testimony  of Foale & Tuffin’s milieu, among them Derek BoshierMary Quant, Manolo Blahnik, Terence Conran, James Wedge (with whom they worked closely), Peter Blake and Betsey Johnson.

 

//Sally Tuffin and Marion Foale in”Y-front” dresses, 1964// 

Webb, whose CV includes stints as fashion editor of Blitz, the Evening Standard, Harpers & Queen, Elle and The Times, was approached a couple of years back by Matthew Freedman of specialist imprint Antique Collectors Club Editions.

 

//PVC bags by Sally Jess for Foale & Tuffin, 1965. Photo: Magnus Dennis// 

“The timing was perfect; this book ends in the early 60s/early 70s, which is when my previous book – about Bill Gibb - started,” says Webb, who also saw Foale & Tuffin take part in the January 2007 60s study day at the V&A (to which THE LOOK also contributed by interviewing another sorely overlooked figure of the period, Paul Reeves). 

 

//Left,right: Prints by Zandra Rhodes for Foale & Tuffin, 1964, 1965. Photos: Rick Best, Helmut Newton/Vogue// 

“The most important aspect of Marion and Sally’s work is that they were always on the money,” says Webb, who is fashion consultant at Bath’s Museum Of Costume (which has it’s own F&T exhibition)  and a visiting lecturer at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College Of Art.

 

//Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin, 1971. Pic: Sunday Times/Fashion Museum, Bath// 

“From the beginning of the 60s when they were designing the sweet, girly little dresses through to the shop’s closure in the early 70s, when they’d ventured into fantasy, a bit historical, a bit ethnic, Marion and Sally reflected the times,” says Webb. “A lot of designers create a look and stick with it; Foale & Tuffin kept on the pulse of fashion.”<

 

The lovely folk at ACC have provided THE LOOK with a copy of the new book for the lucky reader whose name is pulled out of the hat with the correct answer to the following question:

 Q: Which year did the YOUTHQUAKE promotion of young British fashion in the US take place? 

MAIL YOUR ANSWER TO thelook@rockpopfashion.com BY MIDNIGHT GMT DECEMBER 25. 

Best of luck and

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE LOOK!