Monday, 24 December 2012

BBC Archives - Clothes That Count

The BBC is slowing making much of their surviving archive available online and luckily for fashion fans, amongst the shows available is the influential 1967 series, Clothes That Count. Clothes That Count was one of the catalysts for the home sewing & crafting boom of the '60's and '70's - bringing simple dressmaking to the masses, and demonstrating how one could easily re-create high fashion trends at home - designer Gerald McCann was the resident expert on hand to advise. Of course, dressmaking was common before this time - being a cheaper alternative to buying off-the-peg or from a professional seamstress - but with the rise of boutique culture and sewing machines becoming more affordable, it really became a craze amongst youth desperate to rustle up a new, fashion-forward outfit for their weekend dances.

There were 10 episodes in the original series, of which 4 are currently available to watch online, amongst other fashion programming. If you fancied having a go at any of the designs, it should be possible if you can track down any of the original patterns, which would have been widely available at the time. As well as letting viewers know the numbers of the patterns used in the series, there was also an accompanying guide book, and two supplements printed in the Radio Times, which are available to view here and here.

If you don't think you'd quite manage to rustle up a McCann-alike, the shop will have three beautiful mini dresses by the designer from around the time of the series available soon.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

How I want to dress right now

A shop assistant at the Biba boutique in Kensington, poses in the shop's household department.
September 1973

Minus the oversized sunglasses, this is exactly how I want to dress at the moment - dungarees (preferably a flattering fit in jewel-coloured velvet - they're so hard to find) teamed with a stripy breton top and matching headgear. Of course, a good pair of platforms (I'm thinking my lace-up Swedish Hasbeens boots) on my feet. For colder moments I'm dreaming of topping it all off with my Mum's 1950's cowboy knit cowichan or 1940's style chubby fun fur swing jacket.

I've got everything else - now if somebody could just point me in the direction of my dream dungarees...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Coming soon...

A huge update to the site, long overdue, including lots from the likes of Gina Fratini, Jeff Banks, Foale & Tuffin, Miss Mouse, Mary Quant, Strawberry Studio, Universal Witness, Annacat and more. There will be a slight change to the photo format - having good outdoor weather in the UK means it's often nigh on impossible to time having a model with also having a bright, clear day, so we're moving indoors to make updates much more regular in the future.
Annacat mini dress, coming soon

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki exhibition in Brighton

Opening in Brighton on the 22nd of September is a brand new exhibition, Biba and Beyond. There will also be items on display from a ‘Bring in Your Biba’ campaign, where contributors were asked to bring in their Biba items and share memories from the London and Brighton shops. Thinking about the exhibition reminded me what was probably the very first Biba retrospective, held at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle in 1993, which I was lucky enough to attend as a child on a very groovy school trip, headed up by two of our teachers who both had incredible beehive hair styles and spoke enthusiastically about their Biba years.

Cover of the exhibition catalogue. I couldn't afford it at the time, but purchased it on eBay some years ago. It shows up online from time to time and shouldn't cost more than £10 or so to buy now.

It might've been nearly 20 years since I saw the exhibition, but I can still remember many aspects of it, and can say that it was one of the key moments in setting me off on a life-long love of vintage clothing - although by this age I was already choosing to wear mainly second-hand over new, spending my weekends rummaging at jumble sales with my parents and dressing up in my Mum and Aunt's vintage finery.

Funny photo of me dressing up aged around 7 or 8. That's me on the left in my aunt's Bus Stop velvet dress. Not sure what my cousin in the middle or sister on the right are wearing, but it looks like she's got some kind of 1930's floral crepe top on!

The Laing undertook a similar project to Brighton Museum, 'Bring Out Your Biba', advertising through local media, and I remember that several of my friend's mothers loaned pieces to the show. There is a great page here written by one of the contributors - I didn't realise that the exhibition later travelled to Aberdeen and Leicester - but then again, I was only 11 or so at the time. The photo with a 'do not touch' sign in it makes me laugh as I distinctly remember a girl from my class screeching at me for reaching my hand towards a beautiful satin dress with diamante straps that sparkled under the gallery lights - I don't think I could resist.

Biba - the original lifestyle shopping experience

Choice quote. My Dad told me that the one and only time he went into Big Biba it was to laugh at people - each to their own I guess!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

David Bowie at the V&A

Striped bodysuit, Aladdin Sane tour, 1973 by Kansai Yamamoto

By now you've almost certainly seen that David Bowie will be the subject of an exhibition at the V&A, with the show encompassing all aspects of his creative life from the early 1960's to the present day. Most excitingly, many of his original stage costumes and clothes will be on display - many on view to the public for the first time since they were originally worn. Perhaps some of the incredibly talented designers who dressed Bowie will finally get some of the attention they deserve, most notably Kansai Yamamoto and Freddie Burretti.

Freddie Burretti suit circa 1973