There are times when Allen Jones makes a highly plausible bid to be taken for a fetishist. His paintings of shoes with impossibly high heels are in the realm of phantasy and can only be worn by the phantom of sex appeal that slips them on in the mind’s eye, but they are more likely to be rhinoceros horn to rouse and sustain. Even his paintings of legs, conspicuously shape-conscious though they are, could have been devised to celebrate the stockings. But the true fetishist places his faith on inanimate objects or parts of the body as far away as possible from the sexual zones, and although Jones rarely paints the whole figure, his euphoric images of the cleavage and the crotch are evidence enough that he is far from being at the mercy of symbolic displacements. Until recently, he could probably be described as an aficionado of the choice view, but suddenly all the evocative fragments have come together in three life-size effigies of girls which look so breathtakingly real that when I first saw them in the artist’s flat I felt that I shouldn’t have entered the room without knocking.
They are made for instant recognition and maximum confrontation. They turn into works of art by rapid but clear-cut stages. Twice over, they are not what they seem. At first they are blindingly girls. Then they are brilliant imitations of girls, cool and arrogant but incapable of lifting a finger against close and impertinent inspection. Finally, inpection makes it clear that their proportions are not human. They are not imitations. They bring to a kind of perfection a convention that has arisen on art’s difficult road back to a humanist figuration.
They present a strong case for the artist as director. Everyone who knows Allen Jones’s paintings will agree that the effigies disclose his formal preoccupations at every turn: but he has not actually made them. It all started on one of his trips to the States, when someone mentioned that there were people in London who were making fabulous life-size dolls. Back in London, he went to see one of these dolls, a likeness of Carroll Baker that had been commissioned by a film director. Only the head had been specially modelled; the body was that of a conventional shop window dummy. The visit brought up the name of Dik Beech, a commercial sculptor who works as a freelance in close association with a company named Gems Wax Models, which makes the moulds and casts for Madame Tussaud`s. Beech brought great professionalism and the neutrality of a craftsman to the task of turning Jones’s drawings and specitications into three-dimensional figures. They were then cast in fibreglass by Gems Wax Models, and sprayed and rubbed down and sprayed again to give them an impeccably smooth, flesh-tinted finish. At this point they were taken over by Lucina della Rocca and entirely repainted by hand. She works for Tussaud’s, and she brought the surfaces of the casts to life with imperceptible nuances of tone. They were now looking the picture of decadent health. The eyes too are painted, and the faces have been given a bold but not exaggerated make·up. Other experts were called in. The leather accessories, including the strap-work on the standing figure, were made by John Sutcliffe of Atomage. The Lurex pants of the girl on her hands and knees were made by Zandra Rhodes and required three fittings. The wigs are by Beyond the Fringe. The gloves, bought at Weiss of Shaftesbury Avenue, are the only accessories that didn’t have to be specially designed.
The figure on hands and knees gazing into a mirror has been designed so that the back of her head and her rear are exactly the same height, to support the clear glass panel which has been made and fixed by Design Animations. It turns her into an anthropomorphic table. Her pose perhaps suggests an undignified obedience, but she can he freed from her glass plate to occupy an easy chair; her arms then stretch out in a striking “hands-off” gesture calculated to send one to the opposite side of the room. It’s indicative of the artist’s purely visual interest in the gear that he was not aware that the strap running from the standing girl’s collar to her G-string would be at the back on a real girl, to compel her to stand up straight: it seems to confirm one’s impression that the girls come from a strip-joint not of this world.
Allen Jones at home, above: his wife and two dollies, opposite. His three life-size effigies, each in an edition of six, will be on show in New York from January 6 at Richard Feigen; in Cologne from mid-January at Gallery Rudolph Zwirner; in London from January 23 at Tooth’s, 31 Bruton St, WC1.
Which ten would I pick for my dinner party? Diana Rigg and George Harrison for beauty, wit and talent. Frank Zappa and Kenny Everett, to see what on earth would go on between the two of them and to see whether they could crack a smile from Terence Stamp. Una Stubbs seems like she’d be awfully good fun, and Marjorie Proops could probably help dear Marianne Faithfull quite a bit. Anne Nightingale could ensure the music selection was perfect, and finally I’d have Engelbert Humperdink there – purely for washing-up and general dogsbody purposes.
It’s of the greatest frustration to me that nobody has yet bought this beautiful skirt by Catherine Buckley. Made from antique fabrics, patchworked into a maxi skirt, it is a key piece of this designer’s work and a beautiful garment to behold.
I knew she had designed clothes for Joanna Lumley as Purdey in The New Avengers, but it had been so long since I watched the episodes, I didn’t remember many individual outfits. Even so, it was highly unlikely that the super-active Purdey would have been wearing a patchwork maxi skirt. Or so I thought. Seems Ms Buckley designed a split midi version for the episode ‘House of Cards’ which Joanna wears to perfection in an action sequence.
Here are some stills, and here is a link to the skirt. Buckley’s work is rare enough, and these patchwork pieces even rarer.
I fear I may be thirty-eight years too late to enter this competition, but I definitely wouldn’t say no to a wardrobe full of Irvine Sellars gear! Let me know if any of you are crazy enough to print this out and make actual paper dolls (and please send photos…).
Jim Lee’s version of Le déjeuner sur l’herbe for Cosmopolitan, June 1974.
Why yes, that is Grace ‘I hardly did any modelling’ Coddington.
Scanned from Nova, March 1966.
Is it just me, or are drawn sexy images generally sexier than photographed sexy images? Despite the completely ludicrous breast depictions, I’ve got a soft spot for these adverts. All scanned from various copies of Cosmopolitan, 1972-76.
The worrying thing is, women actually pay for breasts like these nowadays.
Once upon a time there was a princess from a far-away country who took Paris by storm. And all on account of her waist—length hair the colour of molten gold. And when the young men of Paris stood under the windows of her Left Bank hotel and cried: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair”, the princess just laughed and reached for another bottle of mayonnaise which is the magic potion she uses to keep her hair in condition. Yes, it’s a true life story … the princess is Gerry-Jaye Hall, a seventeen year old from Mesquite, a suburb of Dallas, Texas, who measures 36, 24, 36 and, at just under six feet tall, towers over most of the girls and a lot of the men in the bizarre world of Paris fashion.
One of five sisters (she’s a twin), Gerry-Jaye is the only girl who has not inherited the dark hair and brown eyes of her Choctaw Indian princess grandmother. Straight as an arrow she has gone to the top of the modelling tree in Paris where she’s the designers’ favourite, because on Gerry-Jaye a potato sack would look sexy. By day that hair and that body are raking in £100 per day in front of the camera . . . by night Gerry-Jaye is seen around town on the arm of Antonio, the illustrator who makes a speciality of discovering —and drawing—the most beautiful girls who live and work in Paris.
“Antonio helped me discover Paris,” she says in her breathless Texas drawl. “l’d been breaking in wild horses in a Texas rodeo and, well, Paris was a different scene … but now I’m making so much money I can’t wait to take Antonio back to Texas on vacation. My mother wants to fatten us both up. She thinks I’m too skinny. She thinks everybody is too skinny, except my sister who has her boobs fixed—enlarged you know?—she is 36C now and she’s so proud she can hardly bear to put any clothes on.”
Gerry-Jaye adopts some of that Texas pioneering spirit in keeping her mane of hair in good shape. She washes her hair twice a week with egg shampoo, then conditions it with herbal balsam. When her hair feels dry she dollops on a whole bottle of mayonnaise, followed by ten rinses. Beer is a substitute when the corner shop runs out of bottled mayonnaise. She swallows liver pills every day, a habit set by her mother who also has splendid hair. Does that wild head ever tangle? Apparently not. Gerry-Jaye brushes her hair night and morning with a natural bristle brush, starting at the bottom and taking in more length as she goes. Eschewing hair-dressers, she trims the ends every month by a quarter of an inch. Can she go swimming without making her hair into seaweed? She claims that sea water is beneficial and she never wears a cap. To keep her hair shining she squeezes in lemon juice while it’s drying. And the trendy, tendrilly curls? No rags, no curlers, Gerry-Jaye twists up the hair into a mop, shoves in two pins and shakes it out each morning. Just like the princess in the fairy story…