Tessa Kennedy lives down amongst trees and flowers on the Bayswater edge of Hyde Park; on a broiling blue July day it seemed more like the South of France with mimosa yellow awnings over the windows, white iron table and chairs set up on the terrace. On the corner of a great white classical block of houses, it’s a garden flat — no agent’s euphemism — knocked together from two; in the centre are a pair of tiny courtyards Tessa is changing into conservatories so that flowers can flower all year round: her sons can also wheel their bicycles straight out of doors to play. They are Cassian, Damian and Cary Elwes., 11, 10 and 7, and there’s Dylan, the baby, 7 months old.
Inside, a dramatic maze of rooms opens off the central chocolate-varnished corridor; everywhere carpets, tapestries, tartan and Indian silks make endless patterns. The old wine cellars have turned into great scarlet felt lined storage cupboards like the ones she designed for the Donald Davies shop, no dust can creep in. The drawing-room converts to a cinema built when Stanley Donen lived there; Tessa has hardly changed this at all. The projection room has mighty machines like the Marble Arch Odeon, she has registered herself as Kennedy Previews and has a projectionist hired full time—to show films to friends after dinner once or twice a week, or a couple of James Bond epics for the boys: “They love it of course and get absolutely boss-eyed.” Her fascination with gadgetry extends to video tapes, high-powered headphones for the stereo, intercom and a splendid American push-button dial telephone you can ring in on but not out. With the push-button stuff are clumps of fresh flowers, dog roses, daisies, piles of cushions in antique fabrics or in the flame stitch tapestry she sews on plane journeys, her collection of walnut shell sewing boxes, photograph, paintings—including a quartet of Louis XIV’s wife and mistresses—and carpet in a different colour but the same pattern as the one she designed for Burke’s restaurant. Burke’s is one of her decorating jobs she likes the best—along with Sir George and Lady Weidenfeld’s house and the flat she made for John Barry in an office block overlooking the Thames: “We installed such powerful sound that it moves right across the river and people coming out of the Tate look quite dazed.” Now she is working on a couple of country houses, one is for John Aspinall, and offices for Polydor records, and several new ideas, like a sauna in a storage cupboard, to build into this family and garden flat.
Yes, that’s little Cary Elwes at the tender age of seven. And of course it goes without saying that I would kill for those Theas…
Wonderful in white… snowy crepe, sleeves long and ringed with Irish thread work. By John Bates at Jean Varon. Jewellery by Adrien Mann. Man’s shirt to order from Thea Porter.
Photographed by Paul Orssich.
Scanned from Vanity Fair, November 1968.
Glamorously Grecian… pure white crepe, beautifully braided. By Young Ideas at Rhona Roy. Jewellery by Adrien Mann. Man’s black braided suit is from Just Men.
Beautiful in black seductive plunging rayon jersey. By Foale and Tuffin. Jewellery by Adrien Mann. Shoes by Lilley and Skinner. Man’s evening suit and shirt all from Take 6.
Stunning in satin… timeless dress as bewitching as a glimmer of midnight. By Bernard Freres. Man’s velvet jacket from Take 6. Man’s be-ruffled shirt from Kleptomania.
Perfect in pink… sugared almond crepe falling soft to the wrist and waist. Designed by Anne Tyrrell at John Marks. Jewellery by Adrien Mann. Man’s red velvet jacket and silk scarf from Trend at Simpson.
Reassured in red. Skimmy shaped wool crepe party-goer cut away at the shoulders. By Sujon. Jewellery by Adrien Mann. Man’s evening suit and polo shirt both from Club 92.
Satin crepe de chine tie neck dress and chequered over jacket by Anne Tyrrell at John Marks. Suede shoes by Mondaine.
When it comes to dressing up tonight there’s no such thing as a party line. Redheads come into their own with sleek Garboesque hairdos to set off shiny battledress tops and trousers. Jazzily printed crepe de chine dresses and jackets mix with jersey and velvet, softly innocent or dangerously backless and halternecked. Diamante remains the vital accessory – shining in the hair as well as sprinkled on bodices. The choice is yours and glamour the mood.
Photographed by John Carter.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Flair, December 1971
Cream jersey top and matching skirt by Mary Quant
Both dresses by Harriet
Liberty print cotton blouses and skirts, both by Courchevel. Choker by Ken Lane. Suede bar shoes by Russell & Bromley.
Pleated cotton voile horseman print dress by Thea Porter. Gilt and mock turquoise belt by Ken Lane.
Left: Dress by Reflections at Reldan. Right: Jersey dress by Baltrik.
Left: Ban-lon halterneck dress by Wallis. Right: Brown crepe de chine dress by Annacat.
Black jersey dress by Polly Peck. Inset: Jersey dress by Baltrik. Shoes by Russell & Bromley.
Black satin battledress jacket and trousers by Juliet Dunn.
Grey and red short wooly jackets by Elgee.
Fringed black shawl from Emmerton and Lambert.
Grey wool flannel full length cape by Christopher McDonnell for Marrian-McDonnell.
White lawn dress printed with butterflies and flowers by Thea Porter. Straw hat by Buckle Under. Red wedge shoes by Kurt Geiger. Belt by Shape.
There’s a good reason why Vanity Fair is possibly my favourite magazine of this period. They were relatively conventional in the 1960s, and would ‘merge’ with Honey magazine around 1972, but in their death knells they were just about the most innovative magazine in the UK. Issues were often themed around ‘issues’, for example this one is entirely themed around break-ups and divorces (including a story on what a divorced man should wear when taking his kid out for the day).
Nor did they shy away from more expensive designer names, such as Thea Porter and Zandra Rhodes here, mixing them happily with the more affordable but still iconic boutique names like Stirling Cooper and Mr Freedom. Adding Foale and Tuffin, Pablo and Delia and Terry de Havilland into the mix for good measure, and all those stunning illustrations by Michael Foreman… this is one of my favourite editorials of all time.
Vanity Fair is also, frankly, a nightmare to scan because it falls apart at the binding with the lightest touch, which is why I don’t scan them as often. So enjoy the heaven of Harri Peccinotti’s work while I gently shuffle all the pages back into the magazine…
Photographed by Harri Peccinotti.
Illustrations by Michael Foreman.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vanity Fair, April 1971.
Long grey crepe dress patterned with purple, green and red birds by Shape. Pablo and Delia suede thong necklace. Blue suede shoes at Sacha.
Beige suede skirt with applique shapes and matching shawl by Mary Quant. Necklace from Buckle Under. Beige suede boots by Guy Humphries.
Blue and white feather printed chiffon dress by Zandra Rhodes.
Left to right: Chiffon blouse and multi-coloured skirt by Foale and Tuffin. Painted rainbow shoes from Mr Freedom. Painted belt by Shape. // Cream and red jersey catsuit (top only showing) and banded red and cream skirt both from Stirling Cooper. Red shoes by Kurt Geiger. // Cream, yellow and red jersey dress by Stirling Cooper. Pull on hat by Janice Peskett. // Red cotton t-shirt by Erica Budd. Cream dungarees from Stirling Cooper. Red python sandals at Elliotts.
Above: Mauve satin cotton pinafore dress and blouse by Gladrags. Right: Bottom half of Alistair Cowin calico trousers with green printing. Green and yellow shoes by Terry de Havilland. Far right: Black velvet dungarees with white satin applique heart from Mr Freedom. Chiffon blouse from Foale and Tuffin. Mauve canvas boots at Charles Jourdan.