C20 Vintage Fashion’s photostream on Flickr.
This weekend the BBC’s new 5 part costume drama Parade’s End starts. Set in the Edwardian/First World War period it’s the BBC’s Sunday night rival to Downton Abbey. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebbeca Hall and an amazing cast list full of great British actors. The screenplay is by Tom Stoppard and the BBC made the miniseries with HBO so the production values are bound to be high and therefore a real treat for fans of period drama.
Here are some of the clothes that we hired to the series. Of course as we’ve not seen it yet we can’t be sure if any of them will actually appear in the final cut, but keep a look out for them on the principal actors. All of the clothes are, or nearly are 100 years old now and are authentic vintage.
This little jacket with its gold trim and gold braid fringing has the military influences so typical of the period and also seen on the cream jacket below.
This jacket would have been worn over a long skirt with a full back and the jacket is shaped to fit. Edwardian women wore corsets and traditional fashion was for an S shaped silhouette (looking from the side the bust and bottom stuck out with a small waist). Fashionable women were dropping tight corsetting during this time.
In the photo below you can see this jacket has 4 wonderfully long tails. The 2 at the back are weighted to hang perfectly and the 2 at the side are gathered into knot ending with gold tasseled trim.
This linen coat has a fabulous crotchet insert panel which wraps completely around the skirt. It is cut in large shape which doesn’t follow the natural silhouette of the body (and especially not the traditional corseted Edwardian body). These large shapes were popularised by Paul Poiret and were very fashionable.
These two photos below are of a net over dress with gold braid trim.
This last piece reflects Arts & Crafts design and the influence of the exotic and the far east which was so fashionable at the time. This garment would have probably been bought at Liberty & Co. It’s a fine silk gown styled on a traditional ethnic garment (3 large rectangles of fabric sewn together) with Chinese embroidery and decorative rosettes with tassels on the front and shoulders.
Despite being nearly 100 years old Edwardian fashion is a recurring source of inspiration to many contemporary designers (Yojhi Yamamoto, Jean-Paul Gaultier, John Galliano) and is currently having a resurgence, no doubt due to the popularity in the UK, America and Japan of such period dramas such as Downton Abbey and Parade’s End. Vogue says Edwardiana is one of this seasons most intriguing trends ……..see Marc Jacobs and Loius Vuitton collections.
As you can see from the photo above, everyone who got involved with our Port Eliot production this year had a lot of fun dressing up in our 70’s glam outfits. Taken in our “dressing room” (ie behind the Idler tent) just before we go on stage is (r-l) N J Stevenson Cleo Butterfield and Xanthe Swift (Cleo’s daughter) who dressed the models for their costume changes during the show, Will Rowley and me.
The Idler Academy is run by headmaster Tom Hodgkinson (centre) and has become an essential component of the Port Eliot festival. Tom is seen here giving his brother Will and me detention while we ponder the seriousness of the situation.
The Idlers classroom/tent filled to capacity to hear NJ’s succinct pearls of wisdom and my enthused ramblings and our multi-media extravanganza (aka lots of slides from the 70’s, old records and beautiful young people dressed in our old clothes).
The lecture: Fashion & Song and 430 Kings Road
NJ’s idea was to base the talk around the most important address in fashion for over 20 years (1966 - 1986), 430 King’s Road. Starting with Michael Rainey’s counter-culture boutique Hung On You (which Nigel Waymouth of Granny Takes a Trip made for Rainey in 1967 as part of the graphics duo Hapshash and the Coloured Coat). We do have a fabulous Hung On You suit in our collection but decided not to show it as NJ wanted to focus on the years 1970 -77 and show as many examples from important shops, boutiques and designers from that period as possible.
I don’t want to go into to much detail of the talk here. But I’d like to share the clothes we used to illustrate our main themes.
This group picture illustrates two of the themes of our talk, the cartoony, larger than life, pop clothing made by Mr Freedom in the early 70’s and the 50’s revival which was present through the whole decade.
Tommy Roberts & Trevor Myles opened Mr Freedom at 430 Kings Road in 1969 moving it to Kensington Church Street in 1970. Our first “catwalk” presentation was of typical bright coloured, shiny satin, pop & Americana influenced clothes sold in those shops accompanied by T Rex’s 1970 classic “Ride A White Swan”; the record which would bring about the “birth of glam rock” when Chelita Secunda smeared glitter onto Marc Bolan’s cheeks just before they appeared on Top Of The Pops.
NJ Stevenson in Mr Freedom velour lightning streak dress (pre- Aladdin Sane!)
Terri in Mr. Freedom multi-coloured satin shirt with Ossie Clark satin trousers.
Margaret in Mr Freedom yellow satin hotpants and a yellow with pink glitter spot blouse from Biba.
Rosanna in a Mr Freedom “Oodles of Poodles” print satin jacket and Ossie Clark silver satin trousers. in 1971 Elton John wore a red cord “Oodles of Poodles” jacket on Top of the Pops when he guested on piano for T Rex on “Get it On”.
The red, spotty bows on the hotpants and the “Poodles” print are both cartoony versions of popular 50’s motifs and therefore also cross over into our second theme:
The 1950’s revival
The early 70’s was particularly influenced by Art Deco and the clothing styles of the 30’s and 40’s, the 50’s was a sustained influence through out the decade and NJ and I thought that this is an often overlooked fact which we chose to emphasise. Elton John’s 50’s inspired Crocodile Rock, which was summer hit in 1972 provided backing for our 2nd catwalk presentation.
NJ on stage in the Idler tent introducing the 70’s/50’s models (note the Terry de Havilland gold snake skin shoes). From left to right: Rosanna in a Miss Mouse Martini print dress a fabulous 70’s take on original the original 1950’s green Martini print skirt which Margaret is wearing. Original 50’s advertising prints were very desirable in the early 70’s and no doubt Rae Spencer-Cullen realised the commercial potential of them when she made her version. Jess wears 50’s shaped, lace front, scotty dog print dress by Strawberry Studio (named after the recording studio where Elton had made Crocodile Rock) and Will wears a Hardy Amies drape produced for and sold in Hepworths, giving you some idea of just how big the 50’s revival was!
Here’s a closer look at the Miss Mouse and 1950’s Martini prints and I’m wearing a Granny Takes a Trip drape influenced coat from Gene Krell’s time as manager of the shop in the early 70’s. It has contrasting black velvet pocket flaps and lapels like the traditional teddy boy drape that Will is wearing, but the lapel is rounded (reminds me of Micky Mouses ears) in typical early 70’s style (the shirt I’m wearing also has the same rounded collar). Paul McCartney and Keith Richards (below) both wore jackets from Granny’s in this style at the beginning of the 70’s.
In 1970 Trevor Myles opened “Paradise Garage” at 430 Kings Road selling American vintage clothes. We don’t have any of those, but we do have these fabulous acid lime suede and fake zebra skin creepers made by George Cox. They certainly are a Mr Freedom style, cartoon version of the ones Carl Perkins’ was thinking of in 1955 when he wrote Blue Suede Shoes.
Cox has made fabulous rock n roll shoes for decades. He made the shoes for Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren when they owned 430 Kings Road in it’s various incarnations, through the 80’s when the Clash wore his brothel creepers, Will Hodgkinson (pictured above) is wearing a 90’s pair made for a Katherine Hamnett catwalk show and you can still buy them today.
Glam to Punk
“Personality Crisis” by the New York Dolls introduced our next group of models.
Will (left) and Freddie dressed in Biba. The two pieces are identical to those worn by Arthur “Killer” Kane and David Johansen on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973.
The Dolls had shopped in Chelsea and Kensington buying women’s clothes for stage wear since 72. We also used the outfits to point out the 1940’s influences on the clothes: exaggerated/puff shoulders, full sleeves and a typical 40’s shaped lapel. These are the sort of details seen on Hollywood films of the 30’s and 40’s. A great influence on designers in the early 70’s.
Left, Arthur Kane wearing Biba
Barbara Hulanicki, who is a regular at the Port Eliot festival told me that the Dolls had been arrested for shoplifting from Biba during the day they were to play in the Rainbow Rooms on the top floor of the art deco Derry and Toms building. After convincing the police to release the band, Barbara ended up sharing a lift with them to the top floor of the store. She said that they were very well behaved nice boys then, and couldn’t help noticing that they were wearing such lovely shoes!!!
After covering the various incarnations of 430 Kings Road under the management of McLaren and Westwood from 1971 onwards we reached 1976 and perhaps it’s most famous guise, Seditionaries. So with the Damned’s New Rose blasting from the PA there was just time for the boys to change and rush on stage in their final outfits.
Fred in classic Seditionaries bondage trousers and Destroy t-shirt.
Fred, and Will wearing yellow leopard trousers by ACME attractions and Seditionaries cowboys print muslin shirt.
430 Kings Road changed yet again in 1979 to become World’s End opening with Vivienne Westwood’s Pirate collection and looking forward to the amazing clothes to come from that shop in the next 6 years. But that is another story. Maybe next time??
As we didn’t get time to do it on stage can I say a BIG thank you to all the models: Jess, Margaret, Rosanna, Terri Fred, Will Hodgkinson and Will Rowley, Cleo and Xanthe for back stage dressing, Max Gee (our IT guru), Emma Greenstreet for taking most of the photos, our headmaster Tom Hodgkinson and the Idler Academy and last a very special thanks NJ Stevenson for her great knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject.
Elton John wears Mr Freedom Oodles of Poodels in this 1971 TOTP’s clip:
and the New York Dolls wear Biba on the OGWT in 1973 here:
On the 7th of June the Royal Mail held a celebration party at the Commonwealth Club (just off Trafalgar Square) for the designers whose work is featured on their “Great British Fashion” stamps. Amongst the guests were John Pearse and Nigel Waymouth who were reunited with the Granny Takes a Trip jacket from our collection which they made for their Kings Road shop in 1967. They were full of great stories about the shop and their part in the very first alternative fashion movement when they, along with Michael Rainey and Jane Ormsby-Gore who had opened Hung on You at 430 Kings Road just before Granny, changed the way people dressed.
Nigel told me how the V&A’s Aubrey Beardsley exhibition of 1966 had influenced his own psychedelic poster designs for Hapshash and the Coloured Coat and the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement in general in deciding to buy several William Morris print furnishing fabrics from John Lewis to make the jackets. The fabric was bought in reasonably small lengths and the tailors made the jackets according to how much fabric they had to work with, so they had no idea what sizes they would turn up in. One in “Chrysanthemum” print fitted him (pictured below).
Other people who wore the William Morris print jackets include:
George Harrison in ”Golden Lily”
Noel Redding, bass player with the Jimi Hendrix Experience
Mitch Mitchell drummer with the Jimi Hendrix Experience
Roy Wood with the Move
and Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon who was the original owner of our jacket
Back to the commonwealth club:
John Pearse (above) and Nigel Waymouth (below) signing a blow up of the Granny Takes a Trip stamp
Above left to right: me, John and Nigel. I’m wearing a Granny Takes a Trip suit which had belonged to Mick Taylor. It was made during the second incarnation of the shop after John and Nigel had sold it to Gene Krell and Marty Breslau.
John Pearse is still tailoring making bespoke suits from his Meard street studio, and Nigel Waymouth works as a fine artist.
Norman Hartnell and Ossie Clark
The two other outfits form our collection were also on display at the party; the fuchsia pink opera coat by Norman Hartnell and the Ossie Clark fringed culotte suit. Just before the guests arrived someone had the great idea to place a fan behind the Ossie Clark suit echoing the dramatic movement caught beautifully by Solve Sundsbo on the stamp itself.
Royal Command Performance!
On 15th May, we were presented to the Queen and Prince Philip!!!!! C20 Vintage had been asked to provide a dress for every decade of the Queen’s reign as part of a fashion event for the Diamond Jubilee. I’m still a bit stunned by the surrealness of it.
Pieces from our collection were chosen to be the British fashion designers heritage display and included a 1950’s Hardy Amies cream satin ball dress and the 1960’s Granny Takes a Trip William Morris print jacket & Ossie Clark yellow fringed suit which featured on the Royal Mail stamp set released on the same day!
Royal Mail video for “Great British Fashion” Stamp set
John Pearse, the original tailor at Granny Takes A Trip, meets our William Morris print jacket which he made in 1967.
The Queen examining our 1950’s Hardy Amis ballgown
Royal Mail “Great British Fashion” Stamps
The Royal Mail release their set of 10 fashion stamps on 16/05/2012 featuring three outfits from our collection: a typically voluminous 1950’s fuchsia pink satin opera coat by Norman Hartnell, a William Morris “Golden Lily” print jacket by Granny Takes A Trip and an Ossie Clark yellow crepe, fringed, culotte suit with “Palms” print by Celia Birtwell.