Much as I love big hair, sometimes it needs to be contained in an upwards direction. The Sixties saw some of the biggest, sleekest and most extravagant styles which took heavy inspiration from Victorian and Edwardian originals but with that new, more expressive modern sexuality.
It’s one of my biggest annoyances that women only really wear their hair in interesting up-dos for their wedding days. You should probably wear a hairstyle which is quintessentially ‘you’, not a style which you think you ought to wear. (My mum wore her hair down for her wedding, which would have been fairly unusual in the early Seventies, and I think she looks amazing for it. And very ‘her’, at the time.) If you are going to wear it up for your wedding, why not try wearing it up on an evening out? It doesn’t have to look WAG-sleek, think more along the Bardot-lines…
Of course many of these looks are so sleek and precisely pinned that you would definitely need assistance, but quite a few are not. And the best way to learn, is to practice. The most basic tips I could give would be to curl your hair first (straight hair is more slippery and curls give more volume and grip – and you need plenty of that!!!) and, until you’re more savvy, let the curls do most of the work for you. Keep it relatively messy until you’re used to how you like it pinned, placement on the head and where you need volume or loose hair. Then you can build up to more precise and extravagant works of art.
And keep looking at photos!!
Just try not to get a crick in your neck when you’ve done a good job. It’s for other people to admire…
…is it wrong to secretly be longing for it to be autumn?
Perhaps I bore too easily. More likely, it’s because I can’t bear being too hot. And, also, because I bore easily. I love my summer dresses, and there’s nothing quite like being able to leave the house without a jacket, cardigan and sometimes even sans shawl. But that very human tendency to want what you can’t have means that I start looking longingly at my long-sleeved crepe, velvet and polyester dresses, all taking a well-earned summer holiday. I keep having to bare my legs to the world. I miss tights! I also long to come out the other side of ‘ironing season’. Because I’m extremely pernickety and I insist on ironing all my cotton dresses, so that is rather my own fault. But still…
It also means that, gripped by the blindingly bad mood of a Really Bad Week (last week), I somehow wander into the shops and somehow buy the pair of buckled suede purple platforms I’ve been coveting since they appeared in store in June (when I was, officially, looking for a pretty pair of sandals for my holiday). Somehow I justify this by the fact that I waited three weeks, and that they might disappear by a more appropriate buying time. It’s less ridiculous to buy them in July than in June. I’ve had my summer holiday, ergo I can start thinking about an autumn getaway and the pretty suede shoes I might need for that. Ahem.
On a more practical, businesslike level, it also means I am gripped by confusion on what to list over at Vintage-a-Peel. Summer is pretty much silly season for vintage. No one is around and no one is really buying summer stuff once mid-July hits. At least, that’s always been the received wisdom. But, as a business, I cannot take a school holiday-length break from the world and come back in September with all my velvets and crepes. So I have to keep going.
High Street and designer shops are horribly clever. They know, that you know, that they will ensure that the most covetable pieces are going to sell out before you are ready. And so you pounce, and they can actually make money in hot and stinky August (after they’ve made their money in hot and stinky July when you’re throwing money at their summer sales. Often featuring items which have been in the summer sales for three years running as well).
I still haven’t come to any conclusion about this, in case you were wondering whether I had discovered the answer, I am just musing aloud. But, in case anyone feels the same way, I just wanted to make my confession. I’m really looking forward to the autumn.
Outfit by Polly Peck. Boots by Noddy’s Nipple in The Kensington Market.
[not so crazy about this outfit, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to credit those boots to the delightfully named 'Noddy's Nipple']
Advertisement feature from Vogue for Acrilan fabrics by various manufacturers. Make-up by Max Factor and photos by Barry Lategan.
The last thing that Zandra Rhodes wants people to think is that they need to look like her to wear her clothes. Years ago an ex-partner accused her of frightening the clients. “People that really know me accept the way I look; I don’t try to look freaky.”
At the moment her hair – always dressed by Leonard – is short and orange-quilled, her eyebrows are a thin bright orange line, her eyelids half blue and half red, her cheeks highly rouged. “I think I was the first person to have my hair dyed green; then I put feathers at the end of it; then I had it green and blue. I’ve had this make-up since my show in April. I do a look to death. Before this one I think my eyes were blood-purple with silver and green round the outside and glitter-dots in the middle of my face for eyebrows; then I painted solid red all round the outside.”
Her clothes are as unusual as her make-up – she will frill, flounce, feather, sequin, print, dye and cut extraordinary dresses that she thinks look as good on the over-45s as on the young, slim and beautiful. Because her mother taught dressmaking and worked for Worth in Paris, she never learnt to sew or cut a pattern. She studied fabric design at the Royal College and has been making her own collection for only four years; her printing is done with her print-partner and boyfriend Alex McIntyre. Alex and Zandra usually work, at the print and dressmaking works just round the corner from Zandra’s Bayswater flat, from six in the morning till 11 at night, so it’s not surprising that Zandra has earned a reputation for falling asleep everywhere.
Four printers and seven dressmakers make everything – one dress usually takes one girl from start to finish about two days, and will cost from £150. “I can’t possibly compete with a production line so I concentrate on the things being really special, so that if you’re sitting at the dinner table you can see that the hand-rolling is as expensive as your jewellery.”
She already feels that she dresses “the so-called International Set” who pitch camp in London several times a year. To accommodate them properly she wants to open her own modern couture salon selling everything from furs to perfume. “I’ll work to make people look beautiful; I know that by an accident of Fate I can.”
I must confess that, beyond thinking ‘poor love, imagine being married to that‘, I didn’t always have particularly strong opinions on Bianca Jagger. I knew the legends, and I knew she was a stunner with a propensity to wear beautiful clothes, but The Stones aren’t my strongest musical suit and I couldn’t work up much enthusiasm for someone who had actually bothered to get married to Mick. Don’t even get me started on the whole Jerry Hall thing (she should have been Jerry Ferry, it’s just not right….).
Then I read her section in Wendy Leigh’s excellent book Speaking Frankly: What Makes a Woman Good in Bed (which you can pick up for as little as 70p on Amazon these days). Most of the content is boring, some is sordid (hello Angie Bowie), some is misogynistic (hello Oliver Reed, surprise surprise) and some is really rather lovely (hello, ummm, Roger Daltrey. And Serge Gainsbourg, the old rogue).
Bianca’s is a lovely, long, rambling analysis of a Catholic upbringing and a rather sweet, romantic and restrained adult love life. Which doesn’t quite fit with how you’d imagine any wife of a Rolling Stone to be. Not least one who partied at Studio 54. But then again, Bianca has that other-worldly quality which rises above groupie, girlfriend or just ‘wife’. She’s classy. Much as I loathe Jagger, he did have awfully good taste in women at times.
So here is a stunning Sunday Times Magazine feature on Bianca, wearing Zandra Rhodes’s incredible creations, from October 1972. She is my new hair idol, particularly that last shot…
Check back tomorrow for the Zandra interview and photograph…
A conversation with M last night got me thinking about the origins of the idea of ’boutique’. If it was a somewhat posthumous term applied to the era by fashion historians, in the same way that ‘Renaissance’ would not have been understood by anyone living through the Renaissance.
But then I remembered the veritable goldmine of information featured in Vogue in the late Sixties called ‘Vogue Boutique’ or variations on that phrase. So, I guess, no would be the answer. They did call it ’boutique’. This gem (featuring an outfit by Alice Pollock and another by Zandra Rhodes and Sylvia Ayton) is from July 1969. More to come, as and when I remember them…..
Every woman’s dream, surely? One thing Mary Quant certainly knew how to do was shoes. And, look!! It’s the brilliantly named Efva Attling again!
I need to start paying someone to create puns based around the word ‘listings’ because I’m all out… Anyway, over at Vintage-a-Peel, things have been added! So just you make sure you go and take a look, ok? Well, you don’t have to but seeeeeee how pretty these things are!!