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.
…can be coped with from bed If you have a telephone, a writing hand, and a London address, why walk? Christmas can come to you.
Pretty much my idea of perfection, from the Thea Porter kaftan to the Caroline Smith poster on the wall…
Photographed by Richard Winslade.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Queen, December 1969.
Photographed by Norman Parkinson.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, July 1969.
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.
Inscrutable means being “wholly mysterious” and after a summer of freckles and jeans maybe the time is ripe for the return of the cool, self-regarding beauty. Julie Ege, Queen of a thousand popping flash bulbs, without whom no première is complete, veils her flashing smile to emerge as the epitome of the new inscrutable woman, in our picture.
Dress by Thea Porter. Necklaces from the Purple Shop. Bracelets and rings from Jones, Beauchamp Place. Fur rug from Harrods. Make up by Pierre LaRoche for Estée Lauder. Hair by Oliver at Leonard.
Photographed by David Anthony.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Cosmopolitan, September 1973.
Apologies for the protracted absence! I am most definitely back, working on new blogs for both here and Shrimpton Couture Curate, and of course I’m still sourcing the best boutique vintage for you over at Vintage-a-Peel! xx
Photographed by Richard Imrie.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, April 1970.
More about Bibette here.
Excitement and anticipation is – quite rightly – building for the opening of the Fashion and Textile Museum’s new Thea Porter exhibition (6th February – 3rd May 2015). Guest curated by the lovely Laura McLaws Helms, who has also written the accompanying book, it is surely set to be the exhibition of the year. My Thea gypsy dress is somewhere in there, but having got a sneaky peek last week I can safely say that it will be blown out of the water by the extraordinarily beautiful pieces which have been gathered from a wide variety of sources (as well as ephemera from the archive and a recreation of her glorious dining room).
So to whet your appetite, here’s my dream Thea outfit (well, one of many…) — complete with matching embroidered Chelsea Cobbler boots.
Photographed by Just Jaeckin.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Harpers Bazaar, April 1970.