The season of the shirt. Wild and waisted. Smart, sharp and snappy. Crisp, cuffed sleeves for the new tight and tailored look. Soft and slinky overblouses to revive the romantic 40s.
The first picture has got to be one of my favourite fashion shots of all time. Such joy in movement, perfect lighting, and harmonious colours from the most heavenly Quorum clothes.
Photographed by Dick Polak.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Honey Magazine, May 1973.
Ok, so this can’t possibly be a proper book review, because I don’t own the book. The reason I don’t own it, is because it costs £345. It’s £345 well spent, if you have the money, in my opinion. But it’s still £345. You pay for superior materials, lush production and great exclusivity; it’s bound (ha!) to hold/increase its value. It also contains a lustworthy amount of photos of rockstars in beautiful clothes.
I did, however, get to see a preview at the launch, at Genesis HQ in Guildford, on Tuesday night. Once the crowds had cleared somewhat, the feather-headed pseudo-mods had drifted away, I had spotted Peter Blake (again!! It’s the Zandra Rhodes effect; you start feeling bored of seeing them everywhere!) and gobbled up as many canapés as I could find, I carefully flicked through the book and tried to take some lousy phone shots of the photos up on the walls. I was in heaven. Men in satin. Men in flares. Men in feather boas. Men in platforms….
Personally I’m a Ronnie Lane kinda girl. Rod Stewart is fine in this period, and he wears some of the most brilliantly bonkers gear out of all of them. Ronnie Wood is tolerable, but he doesn’t float my boat. Ian McLagan has instantly gained major points in my book for being seen wearing a Bus Stop Forties-lady print blouse throughout the book. And Kenney Jones is….there. But put them all together, and it’s just magical. The photos are largely unseen; vivid, candid and energetic.
I’ll just have to keep hoping for that windfall so I can buy the damn thing! The Faces: 1969-75 is available here:
When you collect and devour as many vintage magazines as I do, there are a few important life lessons you begin to realise. The first is that regardless of what they may say, all photos now are airbrushed. You can tell this because all photos in vintage magazines are not airbrushed. People have blemishes and bumps, you either re-shot the entire editorial or you put it in, warts and all. The second is that people’s major life problems and desires are no different now to how they were then. There might be a little more of a whiff of old-fashioned values, but, ultimately, people just want a rewarding job, sizzling sex life and somewhere nice to live.
A more interesting and less generic lesson is this: Not everyone who has a large magazine feature about them and their talent is guaranteed any level of success. Surely most people are somewhat susceptible to that green-eyed monster, when they see a rival (or, worse, someone they’ve never heard of) featured heavily in a magazine article about ‘up and coming’ talents or ‘renowned authorities’. You wish nothing but success for fellow human beings, naturally, but you may wonder why you have been overlooked or fear you have missed some vital step on the road to becoming a major player in your chosen field.
But the number of magazines I read, which feature ‘up and coming’ new fashion designers who even I have never heard of (me, boutique-geek, not the foggiest….), is astonishing. This particular article from 19 Magazine is one of the most striking. The incredible photo, the incredible clothes, the fact that they are the main feature in an article which also covers Wendy Dagworthy. Tell me, who on earth has ever heard of Preston and Saunders? I’ve googled, and googled. Unless I’m missing something, there’s nary a trace of them anywhere.
Which is a shame. Clearly they had talent. But what happened to them? Where are the Preston and Saunders clothes? Why is this the only reference in any magazine I’ve ever seen?
I must admit, I’m really hoping that either will google themselves and find me. I really want to know what happened to them! I also think this is a very good quote, and remains an important point to make in 2011.
Laverne Preston and Sue Saunders have just formed Preston & Saunders with no capital at all. They’ve been offered backing, but it’s a case of once bitten, twice shy.
Of the designers we interviewed, we found that Laverne had the most ‘experiences’.
“l’ve lost thousands of pounds . . . people I’ve done collections for that have made a fortune out of me, and, of course, names! I’ve made two companies complete, you know, names, and earned very little money out of it for myself.
So we decided to eliminate such people. That’s why we really don’t want backing, a few thousands, yes, but not real backing. Once you get that, you make a name for the company, you get masses of Press, you get a story for them—and then, that’s it. “I had four years at art college, a year in Paris making tea, before I became a designer for Maggy Rouff under an architect called Serge Matta. This had the biggest influence ever on my designing because he was so pure and I was very into architects, anyway.
“Then I went to Kiki Byrne, Young Jaeger, Consortium, C&A Modes and, finally, Maudie Moon, which was great fun. I then decided to give up the whole rag trade, buy antiques, study embroidery, etc. I tra- velled all over England looking at different handicrafts.
“After this, I worked again for another company and was nearly had up for assault—I blackened an eye—so I left, called Sue and said, `Why don’t we get together. because I can’t keep blackening people’s eyes’, and that was it.”
Sue Saunders has had gentler experiences. She spent eight years at art colleges, start- ing in the provinces and end· ing up at The Royal College of Art. then she taught silk-screen printing in the graphics department of East Ham College of Technology for two years, and freelanced.
“I started up the printing studio with a company called Luckies, which used to do pop furniture. It went bust so I got out of that. Then I met Jane Wealands, whom I was with at college, and we set up OK. Textiles, which was just short runs of our designs, We could not get them into production as nobody wanted to buy that sort of thing. We started off wanting to do furnishing fabric, but it ended up with most of our designs being used for things like men’s shirting.
“We did lovely stuff for Johnson & Johnson and Alkasura, and have done jackets for Rod Stewart and Marc Bolan and people like that. It was at that time that I met Laverne. “Jane wanted to go into graphics and I was left on my own. I wanted to do something worthwhile and design for an end product. I had no control over the things I sold – what they were used for.
“They were usually men’s things and I thought it would be nice to do things for ladies for a change. It also gave me an outlet for my sprayed fabrics, which are hand··sprayed with spray guns, as well as printed. I would much rather do one-off things than produce yards and yards of fabric.
“I can do any print I want, but I do change things for Laverne if it doesn’t fit the pattern of the garment. The kimono I’m wearing (it had a beautiful Egyptian print) was done for my boyfriend, Jeffrey Mitchell. He’s just got a new band called Hollywood, and I guess we’ll be doing things for them. It’s nice to do special things for people. This is specially for Jeffrey, because he’s into Egyptian things and so am I.”
Did she think that art colleges helped one to get jobs in a practical sense?
“No, I don’t think they do. They are good in that they give you some time to be able to learn certain things and be able to experiment. One can’t do that once out of college and into a set-up like ours. College gave me the opportunity to do mad, inflatable things which I wouldn’t be interested in doing now. I’ve got it out of my system. I think students should spend a month a year working for a commercial company and then go back to reassess their thinking.”
Preston. & Saunders will be a fairly expensive label to start with. They have done a range to sell exclusively at Elle shops, and all the garments will be a mixture of tamber beading, hand embroidery and hand-padded flowers in relief on velvet.
Laverne adds: “The more money we earn, the more staff we can employ, and the prices will come down. I don’t want to use factories. All they want to do is shove through an order for 800 garments at a time. “There are masses of women at home who have children and can’t go out to work because of them, and this gives them a chance to do something interesting.
“There is no reason why we can’t do hand embroidery just because we’re living in 1974. I always wear antique clothes and love anything with embroidery or texture. One of the reasons I went into this is because the really beautiful antique clothes are completely out-priced.”
I must admit that I am generally pretty ambivalent when it comes to model worship, but two of my absolute favourites are Pat Cleveland and Gala Mitchell. So imagine my delight when I found another issue of Vanity Fair from 1971 (December this time. Again, falling apart. What’s with the Vanity Fair binding?) and an entire spread with the two ladies I love? Imagine my further delight when I realise the shoot contains phenomenal clothes by Antony Price, Alice Pollock and Alcasura [sic]. It helps that it was photographed by the great David Montgomery (whose photos always seem to tickle my fancy).
One of my favourite Petticoat spreads, from September 1971, which I haven’t scanned in full before (why? I have no idea….). It was photographed at the Hard Rock Cafe in London, and published a mere three months after it opened (June 1971). The Hard Rock was a different beast back then, the memorabilia which would later become such a huge part of its identity was a later addition and quite haphazardly acquired to begin with.
Isaac Tigrett (later to marry Maureen Starkey, whom he would often introduce as “My most authentic piece of rock and roll memorabilia.”) and Peter Morton opened their American-style diner in an old Rolls Royce dealership on Park Lane. It became an instant hit with their musician and music-loving friends. They could come along, post-gig, for a hit of fast food, good company and a relaxed atmosphere. The decor developed from eclectic Americana into iconic music memorabilia, as various musicians donated their old instruments and clothes to their beloved Hard Rock diner.
‘So Clapton got to be friends with the proprietors and asked them to save him a regular table, put up a brass plaque or something. And the young proprietors said, “Why don’t we put up your guitar?” They all had a chuckle, and he handed over a guitar, and they slapped it on the wall.
No one thought much more about it. Until a week later, when another guitar arrived (a Gibson Les Paul, by the way). With it was a note from Pete Townshend of The Who which read: “Mine’s as good as his. Love, Pete.” ‘
From the official Hard Rock website.
This photoshoot is a rare insight into how the Hard Rock would have looked when it first opened and before it acquired its now legendary status and worldwide domination.
It’s also packed full of glam rock, British Boutique goodness and is almost as delicious as a Hard Rock Apple Cobbler….
Oh dear oh dear. Just when I thought it was safe to come out from my little cocoon of New Romanticism and delve back into relative normality again after my break in Yorkshire, Christies go and post photos of their upcoming Avant Garde auction. I’m just a puddle of lust over some of these frocks, some you might expect and others you might not. But here are some of my favourites!
If some millionaire wishes to purchase this piece for me, I’d be very grateful!