Ah…the Great British Summer. Still, I wouldn’t mind the rain if I had a Swanky Modes transparent raincoat in my armoury. I would probably opt for wearing clothes underneath though. (I know, I’m such a spoilsport!)
Scanned from Nova, August 1973. Photographs by Helmut Newton.
Because he’s Bryan Ferry and because he always seems to soothe me when I’m frazzled. I also love that Kari-Ann Muller is the girl in this video, seeing as how she’s the original Roxy Girl (note the original album cover framed on the wall behind her)… Schmoooooooth.
Possibly one of my favourite, most lush photoshoots of the period by the legendary photographer (and filmmaker) Just Jaeckin. Scanned from Cosmopolitan, February 1974. That Ossie dress? I am largely speechless with desire… except for occasional gurgling sounds.
Or perhaps you’ve not noticed? Either way, my life has been a little busier lately (and a lot more complicated) because I have just taken on a studio/office space in Brighton. As you can tell, I haven’t yet decided which definition is more appropriate so it remains interchangeable. The plan is that I will move down to Hove properly in due course, but in the meantime – wouldn’t you know it? The perfect space made itself known and, though the timing wasn’t perfect, sometimes you just have to take things as they come to you.
We walked in, saw the amazing bay window and fireplace and bam! Knew instantly it was right.
It has been my dream for the past eight years to have a private workspace, separate from my home life and with a lockable door (while working from home has definite advantages, the constant need to clear everything away – or else have it in my face 24/7, gets rather tiresome in the long term) and this is the first time in my life I have been able to achieve it.
It is proving to be a slow process, the whole settling-in thing, made harder by the fact that I still have to spend a few days a week working in London, but it is nice to be able to sit and work in peace. And for Roxy to finally have a permanent home where people don’t take fright or make daft comments about her. Poor love.
The plan is also, eventually, for people to be able to come and visit and try things on in person. It is a frequent request, understandably, but I have always been uncomfortable with inviting customers into my all-too-messy home. So you will be able to book a time to come and visit, have a cup of tea and some non-twee cakes or biscuits, and try before you buy. Hurrah! It is still early days, but if you can allow for spartan surroundings (and are in the area) then you’re welcome to come and visit me…
One of the worst aspects of growing up watching such a long-running and old programme such as Doctor Who, is that you feel an extra-painful twinge of sadness when one of its stars dies. My first remembered experience of this was my beloved Jon Pertwee way back in 1996, and it doesn’t get any easier with time. I have already waxed lyrical on the character of Liz Shaw, way back when I did my geek-a-thon tribute to all the Who girls, but it’s worth saying again that Caroline as Liz was one of my favourite companions – despite her all-too-brief tenure by the Doctor’s side. She had the best legs in Who, was a notable exception to the screaming, helpless girl template (a condition suffered by so many in that programme) and was the most perfect foil to my favourite Doctor.
I am delighted to finally reveal one of the most amazing pieces I’ve had the pleasure of handling and listing over at Vintage-a-Peel. This superb Jean Muir dress hails from 1972, as photographed by Barry Lategan for Vogue of April that year, and is made from one of Muir’s most distinctive prints, the Apples and Pears chiffon (which I already mentioned back in April).
I have also just listed a stunning cocktail mini dress by the supremely talented Antony Price and a definitive disco-era ensemble by iconic brand Fiorucci. Amongst other beauties, of course. Not least a mini dress by seemingly forgotten designer and owner of eponymous King’s Road boutique, Susan Locke. Susan was the girlfriend of actor Jeremy Brett in the late Sixties/early Seventies, and was also one of the first stockists of Terry de Havilland’s wonderful shoes. A fine pedigree, I’m sure you’ll agree.
A personal bugbear of mine, aside from the prevalence of cupcakes and ‘upcycling’ in allegedly ‘vintage’ contexts, is the dominance of the victory roll as a vintage look. I may make myself unpopular here, but frankly it is akin to assuming women in the Sixties only ever wore their hair in beehives – or that everyone was bothering with a Marcel wave in the Twenties. It is lovely to make an effort with your hair, and it is lovely to wear Forties clothes. Or, more likely in my case, Seventies clothes in a Forties style. But why on earth would you want to limit yourself to victory rolls, and why on earth would you want to look like every other allegedly ‘vintage’ woman walking around?
If you search ‘victory roll tutorial’ on Youtube, you get about 855 results (and counting…). That’s 855 people who think they have something new to teach you about doing a very specific style. So say 20 people follow each tutorial to the letter and frequently wear their hair that way, that makes over 17,000 people all desperately trying to create a hairstyle to look ‘unique’. Ok, so the maths is arbitary, but what it demonstrates is how very unoriginal it all is.
I realise that I am not the target audience for such things generally (in fact my hair is frequently set in what look like victory rolls purely so that I can unclip them in the morning and brush out for a loose-but-frankly-enormous hairstyle which can then be styled to suit any era I choose) – but I do wish that the perceived ‘vintage look’ wasn’t so rooted in a cartoon-like version of the Forties. Not everyone rolled their hair, not everyone wore red lipstick, not everyone bothered drawing a seam up the back of their legs. Most people were too busy/stressed/modest or even independently-minded enough to worry about such things.
I respect people for adopting an unusual look, whether it be vintage or any other subculture, and I respect anyone who makes an effort with their hair. But I have never, and will never, understand the way vintage has turned into a kind of uniform. I know I personally approach it as a way of creating my own style without anyone else’s rules in my head, and also because I have a stupidly stubborn (and geeky) interest in certain eras other people consider ludicrous. But while I sit, engrossed in magazines, films, music of the time, I don’t ever feel like I need to copy any of it slavishly to justify my own vintage-ness. If that is even something I want to define myself by. It is about self-expression, but an unfortunate number of people are expressing their conformity in my opinion. The moment I see a cast member from Made in Chelsea wearing a floppy felt Seventies-style hat, is the moment I put my own original hat to the back of my wardrobe.
On that note, I am still mulching down my feelings and opinions on Grayson Perry’s series about taste, which was a fascinating insight into what he deemed to be the very ‘middle class’ need to express non-conformity. But expressing in a way which is validated by everyone else’s admiration and acceptance of your ‘individualist’ choices. More musings on that at a later date.
When I was a teenager, my mother laughed at me for wanting to wear black jumpers, long dip-dyed skirts and smudged kohl eyeliner. I said I wanted to look ‘different’, and she said ‘don’t you see that you look the same as every other teenager in their black clothes and smudged eyeliner?’. I didn’t, but I do now.
I look forward to the day when the victory rolls have been unpinned, the tea dresses cast off, the lipstick has become more muted and the general mood has moved on to something new. Personally, I haven’t ‘done’ Forties for a few years now, although I used to enjoy dabbling when the mood took me there. I even detect a certain amount of frustration and boredom from the people I know who do live and love the Forties look.
In part, I believe the burlesque scene is to blame. (I still cannot understand why nobody is doing jiggly Carry On-style Seventies burlesque in nylon ruffles and glossy pastel make-up – you’d make quite a name for yourself!). Although I would say this is through no fault of their own. Any business which is about the seduction of men (and women) in ten-minute bursts is naturally going to seem larger-than-life and somewhat cartoon-like. But is that what most people are actually aspiring to? Or are they using it as a shorthand? Like black and white Mondrian-esque dresses for ‘mod’, or cheap beaded shifts for ‘flapper’. And are they dressing this way because they are actually passionate about the era (easy enough to claim) or because they want to fit in with a scene?
Somehow the commercialisation of vintage is represented, to me, by the victory roll. Although it is by no means the only example.
I am trying not to judge people, I just want to understand why it is happening since the knock-on effect is a lack of understanding about vintage. I have actually lost count of the number of times someone has asked me if I ‘make’ the vintage I sell. So far I have managed to retain a sense of humour about it, but occasionally feel like I should rename my website Secondhand-a-Peel and officially reject the word vintage.
My approach is always to look at original pictures of normal women of the time – “primary sources” was always the mantra in history lessons – which is why My Dad’s Photos is such an immensely valuable resource for any Seventies-fiend. So I have included a few photographs from my own family’s photograph albums. These people worked for the Civil Service and were stationed up in Buxton during the war. I don’t know who half of them are, they were friends of my grandparents, but look how lovely they are. Some have rolls, some just have a nice set, some are just clipped off the face; variety is the spice of life.
The first photo is of my grandmother, and she is sporting a reverse roll! Go Nana, being all subversive there… I just wish she was still around so I could ask her what she made of it all.
Please do not reproduce these pictures without permission. Thank you.
Please do not reproduce these pictures without permission. Thank you.
Many, many thanks once again to the wonderful Len Fernandes, who provided us with a fantastic image of the Pussy Galore boutique on Carnaby Street (from 1971) back in April. He has now sent two further images: one of John Stephen’s many boutiques at number 33 and also of Harry Fox’s Lady Jane.
Again, these give us precious glimpses of the somewhat wilted locale; a few years before the rot set in completely, but a good few years after its mid-1960s heyday. Proof that it is always a good idea to photograph seemingly unimportant scenes and buildings, even if the importance may take a few decades to become apparent.
Please do not repost these images without full credit to Len, thank you.
Scanned from Honey, October 1968.
Such a lovely illustration and such sweetly innocent underwear-naming too. Ahhh, if only you got an “E.P. record” with all bra purchases these days…