Photographed by David Bailey. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, January 1968
“It all begins and ends with the girl. There’s no such thing as a ‘sexy’ dress – it’s just so much fabric until it’s on the body. The look depends so much on the wearer. You have to keep in mind that some stage in the day it’s all got to come off. You see, I’m a realist.”
“There’s a lot of rubbish talked about women dressing to please themselves or to impress other women. Women dress to please men. It’s for men that they keep themselves in shape, try out new make-up, change their hair. But it’s a very sad thing when a woman is frightened to move from what she knows her man likes. You can see it so clearly with wives and husbands; she suddenly ‘freezes’. Clever women know that by always looking the same you gradually make yourself invisible. That’s why I like to dress actresses – they’re not afraid to change and make men look at them with pleasure all over again. So each time I design a collection I make it new, concentrate on a different zone of the body… this time it’s the shoulders and arms, a way of cutting and gathering the sleeves.
“I think London women look better than anyone in the world. I admire the way Americans care, but it shows a little, and it shouldn’t. They’re best when they’re wearing the least make-up, and their hair shines like they invented shampoo, but come the witching hour of four o’clock… they’re hilarious. The French have a great way with shirts and sweaters and skirts, but we’ve been admiring that for thirty years. They’re inhibited- they won’t try something new. The English can be quite mad one day and very chic the next, and do it without any visible effort. Since the ‘sixties we’ve been enjoying fashion in a way that’s unique.
“I never want to hear the word ‘layers’ again. Let’s see the shape, let’s see it moving. I’m not talking about teenagers. I saw a woman who must have been 80 in one of my dresses at a party recently and the dress had a low neck. That could be a recipe for disaster, but it wasn’t. She looked great because she was thin and cheerful, she stood well, she’d looked after herself.”
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, February 1976. Photographed by Barry Lategan. All clothes by John Bates.
*I say this with tongue firmly in cheek, of course. I worship the man…
I only sell the originals, y’know. There are still many more listings to come, so keep your eyes peeled over on the Vintage-a-Peel facebook page.
Never again will I take movement for granted. About ten days ago, while I was running around preparing to meet up with the gorgeous Laurakitty and then doll myself up for the preview of the new Biba exhibition at Brighton Museum, I managed to ram my foot into my ever-present suitcase. Hard. So hard, in fact, that my pinky toe on my left foot was newly positioned at a right angle.
Of course I could have concocted a taller, more glamorous story about how I had tripped over the hem of my Ossie Clark dress (you know I run around in them all day, right?) or had tumbled from the stratospheric heights of my Terry de Havilland shoes (same as the Ossies, always in them…always…). Sadly, I was barefoot and the reality was painful and distinctly unglamorous. I managed to reset it myself (not quite sure how, I just moved it, not painful until the shock wore off…) and have been flat-bound and hobbling like a hobbly thing ever since. I have been told four to six weeks recovery time, in which I am unable to wear any of my nice shoes and have to keep pinky strapped up to its neighbour. There ensued much swearing and sulking when I realised that Biba (and, a few days later, the Festival of Vintage in Epsom) was definitely out of the question.
Sympathy (and tea and biscuits) are always welcome, but I mainly wanted to explain my slight absence from the blogging thing. I have been going stir crazy with boredom, but blogging seemed to be the last thing on my mind. Hard to get too excited about frocks and other fripperies when you are banished to the land of trainers and a very strange new walking style.
I am now just about able to get up the stairs to the studio, so slowness in frock dispatchery should be reduced. And there are some fine, fine things to be seen. New listings include Biba jackets, John Bates dresses and Yves Saint Laurent shoes, amongst many other things.
Why have I never found this Varon dress?
Ahhhh. British Summertime. For those of you NOT currently experiencing one of the most spectacularly soggy summers this land has seen in recent years, have pity on us. It is quite unsettling to be reaching for your autumn coat in almost-mid-July. It’s also unsettling to have received an adorable gingham umbrella from your mum as a birthday present and to have been using it almost constantly since then. I’m a July baby, it’s not meant to be this way!!!!!
It’s also hard to get oneself into the listing groove when your head is saying ‘summer dresses’ ‘light cottons’ etc, but you take one look out of the window at the river your street has become and think ‘err, actually, maybe not….’.
So here is my ever-so-British mixed bag of new listings. I do hope you enjoy!
Ah, my inaugural listings post … well, over here on wordpress anyway. Yet again I have been a little tardy in posting them here, but better late than never! There’s Annacat, Jean Muir, Biba, John Bates, Jean Louis Scherrer, Foale and Tuffin, Strawberry Studio (and breathe), and many more. All images are links to the pages over at Vintage-a-Peel. Usual things apply, free postage in the UK and let me know if you want to pay in a couple of instalments for the more expensive items.
The most Easter-themed spread I could come up with at short notice. Happy Easter and hello Mr Spring, I’ve missed you so!
Prints by Bernard Neville for Liberty. Photos by Justin de Villeneuve. Vogue, May 1969.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants
I couldn’t resist following ‘Tagged!’ with ‘Bagged!’. The art of the carrier bag seems even less appreciated than the art of the hang tag, despite its importance in the history of advertising and consumerism.
On Simon Hendy’s incredible website “My Dad’s Photos“, Simon has scanned a mountain of original photos that his father took across six years of fashionable (and not so fashionable) people on the King’s Road in the late Sixties and early Seventies. It is truly a delight to sift your way through them. They are a true time capsule of ‘real’ people wearing ‘real’ clothes in a period where photo opportunities were frequently engineered and crafted (as brilliant as Frank Habicht’s ‘In The Sixties’ is, it’s a very well-crafted form of ‘candid’ photography). I will definitely post about them again, not least because I recognise so many bits of clothing from designers I love.
However, today’s post is about the carrier bag. For, as I was sifting through and starting to get a bit dizzy with the amazingness of it all, I started to notice the bags people were carrying. Biba, Aristos, Stop the Shop, Crowthers… These are truly ephemeral items. How many people bother to keep a plastic bag? You might, if you were lucky, have wrapped something up in one and plonked it in your loft for the past forty years. But these examples are few and far between. The iconic design of the original Biba bags has ensured that they are the most regularly found on eBay, but few of any other kind have slipped through the net.
I did, however, find a ‘Jean Varon’ bag on eBay very recently, which has now taken its place in my collection of weird and wonderful ephemera.
Simon has kindly allowed me to link to his photos from my blog. I know it’s hard to keep such things under control in this age of tumblr etc, but I would appreciate if you would also ask him if you would like to repost his images somewhere else. He has spent many hours scanning these photos, photos which (unlike magazine scans) would not be available otherwise – from anyone else. Thank you!
So many egos, so little space… I’m placing bets that Quant and Bates didn’t speak to each other for the duration. But it’s also nice to see Bates sitting with his friend Bill Gibb, and now I like to think that Alice Pollock and Thea Porter must have been quite pally as well.