Who are the people who go in for body painting, and does it really exist? Bodies are not the easiest or the most obvious things to paint. And yet as party decoration, and a more exciting way of modelling clothes and jewellery, painted bodies seem to be definitely fashionable.
Though the recent vogue was first adopted by the hippies (where better to put your flowers than painted on your body?) the artist and designer Alan Aldridge is credited with having started the trend in London. In 1964, when he was named Art Director of Penguin Books, he designed a: publicity poster using his wife painted in bright colours as a model, with the caption: “We can’t offer you girls, but we can offer you Penguins.”
“We got a pretty fantastic response,”-says Alan Aldridge. “And then I started doing it commercially in a big way. Too much in fact. The break came when I painted a girl all over but I had to get her drunk on brandy for the occasion.”
Since then sporadic parties have featured painted bodies. Public relations director David Wynne-Morgan had the idea of launching a book, The Exhibitionist, by using cheerfully painted models. The book had a painted girl on the cover, and models at the publicity party sported the title in luminous paint across their backs. Later, guests were encouraged to join in the game, and splattered their dates with paint.
At one of his last collections fashion designer Ungaro showed his models with vivid designs painted around their eyes; and it has now become fairly common in the model world to wear a sparkling snake wound round your leg, or a flower imprinted on yourforehead. Full body painting is a more esoteric art. Jim O’Connor, a graduate of the Royal. College of Art, is one of the artists who took it up ; he recently painted a body in the new landscape style now popular for fabrics: his back view of a girl showed a house rising above a fence, and. clouds floating off behind some trees.
As usual, the advertising world has been quick to catch on. A poster for Ultra’s Bermuda colour television set shows a girl lying on her stomach, naked except for a rough map of Bermuda sketched over her back. The caption invitingly reads: “Win two weeks in Bermuda”.
Another person to use body painting was Andrew Grima, the Jermyn Street jeweller, who commissioned an Italian artist, Alberto Villar, to paint a naked model in wild colours; afterwards she was scattered with jewels. Though the result was exotic, Grima has not repeated the experirnent: “It was a bit too poppish for us; the paint did not show up the jewellery to its best advantage.”
Several London shops now cater for this new trend. Joan Price, of the Face Place, 26 Cale Street, SW3 is prepared to body paint for 2 gns. She recommends two makes of paint which are non-irritant and do not smear or stain clothes. They can be used together, and are put on with special cosmetic brushes: Colour Me Cloud 9 Body Paints, which cost 5s 6d for a 2in bottle (any four for £1), or the complete set for £2 17s 6d from Cloud 9 Cosmetics, 14 Boltons Close, Woking, Surrey. Their colours range from jade green to deep purple and glistening copper to a pearlised white, which is said to be good for highlighting. The second recommended wake is Innova-tion by Coty, who have produced four subtle see-through shades, which, though not originally intended for body wear, are very suitable for staining wide areas of skin. These cost 10s 6d and can be bought from all Coty stockists.
Next year the Face Place are bringing out a range of body stencils in a variety of patterns. Until then you can make do with Alice Pollock’s Paint Box for the face, from Quorum in the King’s Road, which comes in 12 colours at £3 19s 6d.
I was so sad to hear of the death of Alan Aldridge the other day. One of the most influential artists and illustrators of his generation, his work has always been a huge inspiration to me. There seems to be no better time to share this article from 1969, in which he is credited with starting the whole body-painting phenomenon which defined the late 1960s and shown doing his thing on the ever-lovely Jane Birkin.
And in case that wasn’t enough for you, also featured are Veronica Carlson, Marsha Hunt, Imogen Hassall, Peter Blake, John Astrop and Ralph Steadman.
Photographed by John Marmaras. Text by Caroline Moorehead.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from The Telegraph Magazine, December 1969.
Cecil Beaton took pictures of Penelope Tree wearing new Ossie Clarks in his Wiltshire winter garden and David Bailey filmed them both, below. Double take—like a scene from the film with Cecil Beaton as the star that David Bailey is making and everyone can see in colour on ATV early next year. When I Die I Want to Go to Vogue was Bailey’s idea of a title: nobody agreed with this. For one thing it would only reflect one aspect of the Beaton legend writer, of more than twenty books; painter, with at least five major exhibitions; designer, of just about everything—opera, ballet, theatre, film—and one-man commentator, whose eye has always focused unerringly, and wittily, on the moment—this moment.
“An epic with a cast of thousands,” says Bailey about the film. There’s Mick Jagger, Jean Shrimpton, Lord David Cecil, Nureyev, Twiggy and many, including Sir Frederick Ashton, Dr Roy Strong, Sir George and Lady Weidenfeld, David Hockney, Patrick Procktor, Ossie Clark, Celia Birtwell, Mrs Anne Fleming, Lord and Lady Harewood, Lady Antonia Fraser and Edna O’Brien, who came to the now famous party that Cecil Beaton gave, and David Bailey filmed, in his London house. “I told everyone beforehand that there would be cameras and told them not to come if they minded. Nobody did mind.” “The worst moments,” says a guest, were when you knew the cameras were not on you.” And Beaton added, It was a mixture of people all looking very interesting in their new autumn clothes. Many looked beautiful.” Beautiful Tree with the mysterious Mexican Datura lily, right. Black panne velvet suit with great gathered Edwardian sleeves, a cowl and long panelled skirt; to order. Black crepe dress, side-buttoning collar, then split, long split skirt with pleated panel, 17 gns. Both at Quorum. Victorian silver choker, Sarah Dwyer and Tony Giorgi, The Chelsea Antique Market. Hair by Celine of Leonard.
Above photographed by Cecil Beaton. Below photographed by David Bailey.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, December 1970.
Photographed by Duffy.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Harpers and Queen, September 1975.
This luxury’s a look, a feel and a fact, and nothing to do with money. It’s satin and silver and velvet and ciré, it’s snowy fake-fur. We show it in layers. You look like a million dollars. Alice Pollock of Quorum designed this satin lingerie to be the softest thing next to your skin. There’s a small bra, shaped quite naturally, knickers that button to the side, and a languid caped dressing-gown that fastens once and touches your toes. All spun round with satin ribbons and made in the most appealing pale shades – magnolia, pink or powder blue.
Photographed by Barry Lategan.
Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, December 1968.