The Velvet Touch

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Velvet jacket and matching skirt by Christopher McDonnell. Hat by Laura Ashley. Wallpaper by Laura Ashley.

Velvets have gone into print this winter. Dashing suits and jackets come in all the mutations of the earth, sea and sky and are designed to be worn before rather than after dark. They look a million dollars and sometimes don’t even cost that much.

Photographed by Terence Donovan.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Harpers and Queen, November 1974.

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Jacket and cream shirt embroidered with corn ears and matching skirt, all by Bill Gibb. Navy leather boots from Russell & Bromley.

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Rayon velvet jacket in Persian print and black rayon velvet skirt, both by Biba. Rust crepe de chine shirt by Otto. Sunglasses by Oliver Goldsmith. Beret by Marida. Wallpaper from Laura Ashley.

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Velvet jacket and matching skirt by Jaeger. Scarf by Rodier. Hat by Marida. Sunglasses by Oliver Goldmith. Boots by Charles Jourdan. Wallpaper by Biba.

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Velvet jacket in splodgy print with matching skirt and Viyella blouse, all by Janice Wainwright.

 

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Bill Gibb, illustrated

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Bill Gibb takes lots of exquisite fabrics – silks from China, English embroidered nets, exclusive Liberty prints – and turns them into glamorous, witty clothes. For day, his new look recalls the Fifties. It’s a subtle, feminine nostalgia – not the garish decade revived by the Kings Road – and one to be worn with style.

Illustrated by Richard Ely.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Harpers and Queen, February 1974.

Harpers and Queen not at all snobbish in their dismissal of wild Kings Road boutique Rock’n’Roll revivers there. Still, pretty Bill Gibb clothes stunningly illustrated means I’ll forgive them just this once.

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Odyssey

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Come, your fashion Odyssey begins at Fortnum & Mason. There, at imagination’s edge find a trio of unique designers .. . Jean Muir, Zandra Rhodes and Bill Gibb Their views, alien to everything mundane. Their clothes, un-alike and unlike any others All three at “Odyssey”, the great new fashion adventure at Fortnum & Mason, i81 Piccadilly, London, W.1.

Illustrated by David Wolfe.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, December 1970.


Three Designers in Britain: Thea Porter

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If I were an elegant lady Jet-Setter, with empty closets to be filled and a blank chequebook – where in the world would I buy my clothes? Italy, for divinely coloured mix-match knitted tweeds and marvellous bags and shoes. Then Paris for shirts and skirts and trousers, made the way only the French know how, signed Dior and Lanvin and Eres and you-name-it. New York, why not, for the perfect sporty shirtwaister, signed Halston. And for that absolutely smash-hit long thing to wear any time after 6pm? London, without hestitation. Signed Bill Gibb. Or Zandra Rhodes. Or Thea Porter. How or why London suddenly happens to possess three such blazing talents in this specialised field is a mystery: but there they are, all three of them turning out dresses of such individuality and beauty that if I just spotted the name in a sale I’d snap it out almost without pausing to examine it: alas I could hardly afford it otherwise, for these designers are hardly typical. They are absolutely top-of-the-tree.

I was delighted to find this piece in a copy of ‘In Britain’ magazine, which appears to have been a magazine specifically for the high-end tourist market (perhaps for airports or travel agents?). Written by the Fashion Editor of the Daily Mail, Barbara Griggs, it covers three of Britains most ‘couture’ designers: Thea Porter, Bill Gibb and Zandra Rhodes. Firstly I bring you, Thea Porter.

Thea Porter is small and auburn-haired and quiet. She works flat out, dressed in ankle-length black velvet, in her small Soho shop crammed with precious scraps of brocade and prints and embroidery. There are rails full of her beautiful robes: the abayas – floaty dresses cut almost in a square – the clinging printed chiffons, the lavishly embroidered jackets to be worn with a plain black shirt, the silky pyjamas. Hallmark of the  perfect Thea Porter: an oriental richness. If the fabric is an exotic print or mix of them, the seams of the dress are piped in gold, or the belt encrusted with embroidery, or the skirt trimmed with frilled pleating. But Thea insists: “They’re meant to be worn very, very simply – with just a little real antique jewellery, perhaps.” Many of her dresses are sold straight off the peg: more are made up to order for favourite customers like Sarah Miles and Eartha Kitt.

Photographed by Peter Kent.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from In Britain, May 1973.

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Inspirational Images: Why not… go bare back?

Swag the rest in violet jersey: Jersey two-piece dress by John Bates.

Swag the rest in violet jersey: Jersey two-piece dress by John Bates.

Photographed by Michel Momy.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, March 1978.

Why not... show a leg with lemon, cream and gold: Hurel jersey top and culottes by Bill Gibb. Shoes by Bally.

Why not… show a leg with lemon, cream and gold: Hurel jersey top and culottes by Bill Gibb. Shoes by Bally.


Inspirational Images: Chameleon Clothes

In the Baghdad Room of Topkapi, full of the ghosts of harem women, black and gold decorations to wear, baggy drawstring trousers, silks, velvets, netted and worked with gilded peacocks for a rich top with immense sleeves gathered in twice. By Bill Gibb for Baccarat. High lifted sandals at Thea Porter.

In the Baghdad Room of Topkapi, full of the ghosts of harem women, black and gold decorations to wear, baggy drawstring trousers, silks, velvets, netted and worked with gilded peacocks for a rich top with immense sleeves gathered in twice. By Bill Gibb for Baccarat. High lifted sandals at Thea Porter.

Photographed by Barry Lategan.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, November 1971

In the harem, green brocade with sleeves coming through and a pointed petal hem worn under Turkish evening blue - a coat the colour of the electric moment, panelled in scarlet and midnight and violet, flying pinked blue streamers. All to order at Thea Porter. Platform sandals by Andrea Pfister.

In the harem, green brocade with sleeves coming through and a pointed petal hem worn under Turkish evening blue – a coat the colour of the electric moment, panelled in scarlet and midnight and violet, flying pinked blue streamers. All to order at Thea Porter. Platform sandals by Andrea Pfister.


Barbershop Quintet: When the teasing had to stop

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In the Fifties a trip to the hairdresser’s was a daunting ordeal – for you and for each hair on your head. Vidal Sassoon changed all that in 1964, and substituted the welcome breeziness of the blow-drying second-generation stylists. Who are the other top hairdresses, and who goes to them?

There are no credits for the clothes, but I think Marianne’s glorious ensemble must be a Bill Gibb, and Sian Phillips’s elegant coat looks like a John Bates to me. Such a glorious array of celebs, I think Michaeljohn win on numbers (but Ricci Burns really ought to win, purely because of the way his ladies are dressed!).

Photographed by Geg Germany.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from The Telegraph Magazine, September 19th 1975

At Ricci Burns: Marianne Faithfull, Fenella Fielding, Ricci Burns, Sian Phillips, Brenda Arnaud. Ricci started in hairdressing at the age of 15, worked for Vidal Sassoon for ten years and opened his own salon in the King's Road five years ago. Now has a second salon in George Street, and did have one in Marrakesh "until the coup, darling".

At Ricci Burns: Marianne Faithfull, Fenella Fielding, Ricci Burns, Sian Phillips, Brenda Arnaud. Ricci started in hairdressing at the age of 15, worked for Vidal Sassoon for ten years and opened his own salon in the King’s Road five years ago. Now has a second salon in George Street, and did have one in Marrakesh “until the coup, darling”.

At Vidal Sassoon: Lady Russell (back), Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon and Kate Nelligan (centre). Shirley (Mrs Ken) Russell, Beverly Sassoon.

At Vidal Sassoon: Lady Russell (back), Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon and Kate Nelligan (centre). Shirley (Mrs Ken) Russell, Beverly Sassoon.

At Michaeljohn: Back row, from left: Jean Muir, Britt Ekland, Joanna Lumley, Joan Collins and her daughter Sasha, Tom Gilbey, Gina Fratini and Diane Logan. Front: John Isaacs and Michael Rasser (one time colleagues at Leonard), who started Michaeljohn in 1967.

At Michaeljohn: Back row, from left: Jean Muir, Britt Ekland, Joanna Lumley, Joan Collins and her daughter Sasha, Tom Gilbey, Gina Fratini and Diane Logan. Front: John Isaacs and Michael Rasser (one time colleagues at Leonard), who started Michaeljohn in 1967.

At Figurehead: George Britnell, proprietor, with clients (from left) Catherine Parent, Kari Lai, Lady Charles Spencer Churchill, Tessa Kennedy, Lady Charlotte Anne Curzon. This is the newest salon of them all - it opened in Pont Street this year.

At Figurehead: George Britnell, proprietor, with clients (from left) Catherine Parent, Kari Lai, Lady Charles Spencer Churchill, Tessa Kennedy, Lady Charlotte Anne Curzon. This is the newest salon of them all – it opened in Pont Street this year.

At the Cadogan Club: (from left to right) Ariana Stassinopolos, Rachel Roberts, Moira Lister, Patricia Millbourn and Aldo Bigozzi (partners), Katie Boyle, Joan Benham and Annette Andre.

At the Cadogan Club: (from left to right) Ariana Stassinopolos, Rachel Roberts, Moira Lister, Patricia Millbourn and Aldo Bigozzi (partners), Katie Boyle, Joan Benham and Annette Andre.