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.
The most fragile face framed in glossy black hair to make the point. Midi dress by Zandra Rhodes from Fortnum & Mason, headband by Pablo & Delia, to order from The Shop. Hair by Oliver at Leonard.
Photographed by Barry Lategan.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Beauty in Vogue, Autumn/Winter ’70-’71.
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.
Back to the beginning, back to the elements: these dresses are air and water in both of those blues, mingling handwork and waves of sheer silk in dresses of destiny.
Photographed by Clive Arrowsmith.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, July 1970.
Photographed by by John Hedgecoe
Scanned from John Hedgecoe’s Advanced Photography, 1982.
Plenty of new listings at Vintage-a-Peel (also available on Etsy) at the moment, including a superb 1970s Saint Laurent Rive Gauche silk wrap dress. There’s also a Celia Birtwell-print Radley dress, a Zandra Rhodes-print Hildebrand dress, Ossie-esque Janice Wainwright maxi, a rare James Wedge hat and the loveliest chiffon Jean Varon dress. Enjoy!
Both outfits by Zandra Rhodes. Boots by Nudie.
Photographed by Norman Eales.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Harpers and Queen, April 1976