Fashion – Womans Revival Style

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Fashion Scene 3

Revival Style

Claire Mahoney decided it was time to take a trip down memory lane to the late 70s and 80s to take a look at how mod was then and how it has influenced women’s mod style in the here and now.

When we talk about mod – we tend to go straight back to the beginning: the early 60s (late 50s if you want to be precise). But this wasn’t the beginning for everyone. Indeed for most people active in the mod scene today, it all started around 1978.

The ‘revival’ or second generation mods, are sometimes seen as the brasher, less stylish relatives of their first generation forefathers and sisters. But as a growing number of teenagers and twenty-somethings are taking up the mod baton, we find that they are not just turning to the 60s for style inspiration – the mod look of the late seventies and 80s is just as inspirational.

So what’s the difference between the mod girls of the 60s and the ‘modettes’ as they were often called of the 70s and 80s? Well a lot of it is down to Punk and the rest was a mixture of the changing factions of mod through the 60s and 70s that gave us the hard mods, the suede heads and the skin heads. The mods of the revival were a kind of cross-breed of all of the above.

But at this particular time it was perhaps punk and its new wave legacy that had the most lasting influence on the resurgence of the scene. Punk blew fashion and music apart and gave it a completely uncharted direction. It was the biggest subculture that twinned music and fashion since mod and as such was a grass-roots force to be reckoned with.

As a result, the look of the young mod girl of that time was a lot more edgy and reflected the mixed bag of music we were listening to – Two-Tone, New Wave and Ska as well as the traditional revival bands like Secret Affair and Squire.

We wore pencil skirts just below the knee, with Fred Perry tops underneath loose-fitting v-neck sweaters. We wore tight-fitting jeans and trousers from brands such as Brutus and Harrington-style jackets with lots of badges. In fact badges and patches were a big deal then, another hangover from punk. If we wanted to be slightly more girly we would wear a head-band in our hair and a slick of eyeliner.

Leather coats were massive in the 70s and 80s and mod girls would wear them usually cropped with our ski-pants or slightly longer with a skirt or we would find ourselves a suede jacket with covered buttons from the local jumble sale.

Skirt suits with boxed jackets were also popular, worn with a plain shell top underneath or a checked or spotted shirt with a small near collar buttoned all the way to the top. We might even wear a tie! Any shoulder pads found lurking in our jackets would be promptly cut out.

Shoes were chunky loafers or flats, either a pump or a sling-back. These would be black, white or black & white. Our loafers would generally be worn with white socks. Often the only white socks available would be sports socks, so it would be a snug fit!

If you were into Ska and the skinhead girl look you would most likely wear these socks over your fishnets with your mini skirt just to add to the general feeling of gender confusion.

Even though the 80s were quite a garish era colour-wise, the smart mods of the 80s moved away from that and kept their palette plain and simple. We wore an awful lot of grey, blue and white, occasionally maroon and of course loads of black & white either in the form of checks, stripes or panels.

However 60s clothing was widely available in jumble sales if you wanted something original or indeed were on the hunt for a shift dress for a special occasion. There weren’t the charity shops of today and of course there was no ebay. More often than not though if would wanted something special you would have to make it yourself.

We asked some second generation mod girls about their revival style:

Tracey Dawn Wilmot

“I remember kitten heels and button earrings were all the rage and it was absolutely vital to have shoes and handbags matching. We were also challenged to find the perfect white lipstick in an age where Rimmel’s Black Tulip was the latest thing. In the early years, when I first discovered mod, I did look more like a boy than a girl, simply because none of us were clear what was the ultimate stylish look. Later in about 1980, I began to emulate the sixties models such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton’s style and watched 60s movies and TV shows for inspiration.”

Ann Matthews

“My look was mainly monochrome. I was very into the two-tone movement. I wore black ski pants and drain pipe jeans with sweaters. My day time look was a little boyish, but for evening I wore mini skirts and shell tops. I also used to pick up original 60s clothes from jumble sales.”

Tracey Williams

“In 1980 I used to wear tight jeans a Fred Perry polo, Fred Perry jumper and monkey boots. I also had a Crombie. So I looked like more of a Rude Girl.”

Jane Williams

“When we first turned mod everything had to be black and white. I had a couple of check dresses which I wore with white shoes, white fishnet tights and a home-made black and white hairband. I moved on to original 60s dresses, which I used to shorten (had to be mini length of course) and make a matching hairband out of the spare material. I didn’t hit knee-length skirts until the smart mod era of 84/85.”


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Claire Mahoney

At the age of 13 mod made perfect sense to me. I liked the look and the attitude - but most of all I liked the music. Secret Affair was my entry point, but they were soon playing second fiddle in my affections to The Jam. Paul Weller, of course, proceeded to break mine and many others hearts in 1982, when he put an end to that particular musical roller coaster – but what it meant was that, uninterested in anything else that was happening in music at the time, I had to look back. I was lucky enough to be given two plastic bags full of 60s 45s by my uncle who used to stock the jukeboxes back in the day. Their contents included a number of Stax originals, plus the Who and the Small Faces, as well as Motown classics from The Four Tops and the Supremes. So, when Phil Collins charted in the mid 80s with 'You Can't Hurry Love' it was nice to be able to say: “I've got the original of that!” It became quite an irritating habit of mine over the years. These days I still enjoy discovering new, old music, be it soul, rnb or jazz, as well as witnessing mod taken another turn among today's youth with bands like The Strypes. My day job as a journalist means I am lucky enough to be able to write about music and modernism now and again. Other than that you'll find me mostly on the dance floor or on eBay still looking for that perfect A line dress.

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September 7, 2015 By : Category : Articles Fashion Front Page Style UK Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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Fashion Labels – Biba

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Fashion Scene 3

Claire Mahoney takes a look at some of the iconic fashion labels of the 60s – kicking off with Biba.

Next time you wander down the high street and pick up that bargain dress or bag from the likes of Top Shop or H&M, remember that you have a lady called Barbara Hulanicki to thank.

Halunicki was the founder of Biba, the iconic 60s fashion label which has been credited as the first company to make clothes that young people could not only wear – but afford.

Ironically, when we think of Biba today, the name conjures up images of rather opulent-looking bell-sleeved gowns and frilly blouses. But founder Hulanicki’s vision was very much style on a shoe-string.

In the early 1960s London was indeed starting to swing but most young people couldn’t afford what the likes of Ossie Clarke and Andre Courreges were producing on a month’s wages let alone a weeks.

Hulanicki saw that fashion needed to be fast and that if an outfit was seen on Ready Steady Go on a Friday then the show’s hip fans should be able to go out and buy it on a Saturday so they could wear it the following night.

“The market was instant for that age group. They wanted it there and then. They didn’t want to wait, as they didn’t look to the future in any way.” she said.

Hulanicki was originally a freelance fashion illustrator and teamed up with her partner and soon to be husband Stephen Fitz-Simon – or Fitz as he was known. He was an ex-advertising man whose flair for the fashion business helped transform the company from a mail-only outlet to a giant department store which, very much like Harrods is today – became one of London’s biggest attractions.

Biba’s Postal Boutique took out its first proper advert in 1963. It was for a maxi skirt and was available in a rather Edwardian palette of brown, mustard, black and red. But it was a simple 60s shift, advertised in the Daily Mirror the following year, that really propelled the business forward and provided the financial footstool that enabled Halunicki to make the step-up to opening her first shop on the Abingdon Road in Kensington.

The dress is question was made in cool gingham, with a rolling neck-line and key-hole back and it came with a matching head-scarf. The best bit, however, was the price – only 25 shillings. Not surprisingly, the dress sold in its thousands (17,000 to be precise) – sales that were boosted even further when Bridget Bardot sported it in ‘And God Created Woman’.

But it wasn’t just the price point that made Biba such an instant hit with the hip crowd. Going shopping at a Biba store was an event in itself. The first shop was housed in an old chemists. There was no space for changing rooms so most of the girls used to get changed behind a screen, but often the atmosphere was so frenzied they didn’t bother. It was no surprise then that boyfriends and other male hangers-on decided it was the place to be.

The interior of the shop was a Bohemian mix of plush velvet upholstery and Victoriana. Clothes weren’t displayed on rails but on coat stands. The girls that worked in the shop were mainly eager, doe-eyed would-be models who were allowed to take home a Biba dress every week. No-one that shopped there would be over thirty years old.

But what of the designs? Well, as well as shift dresses and minis, Biba’s real fashion game-changers left more to the imagination. Hulanicki’s trousers suits and cat suits in pinstripes and abstract prints echoed the new-found freedoms of that generation. They were comfortable, practical and allowed you to move. Let’s not forget that trousers on women were still something of a novelty for those of a certain generation. When Ready Steady Go presenter Cathy McGowan wore a trouser suit to an evening event at The Savoy in London in 1965 – she was actually thrown out!

Hulanicki designs also looked to the past – in particular, The Victorian and Edwardian eras. Alongside the mini-skirts in the Biba boutique would also be floor-length satin gowns and skirts. This was old-school glamour which wasn’t picked up again by the mainstream until the second half of the 60s. Hulanicki’s colour palette was also more sombre – ‘Auntie’ colours as she called them. Burgundy’s, browns and golds, echoes of Art Nouveau and the complete opposite of the primary shades of Pop Art. Biba clothes were also known for their tiny fit. The Biba dolly was perhaps personified by Twiggy who had many outfits designed for her by Hulanicki.

The growth of Biba was a quick as its demise. By 1966 they had moved to bigger premises on Kensington Church Street and in 1969 they opened the Biba department store and then in 1973 Big Biba opened in Kensington High Street. It was seven-storeys with a restaurant and sold everything thing from bags to baked beans. But by 1975 it had to close.

The brand has been resurrected several times since most recently and most successfully for House of Fraser. Although Hulanicki maintains that its various reincarnations are still too expensive.


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Claire Mahoney

At the age of 13 mod made perfect sense to me. I liked the look and the attitude - but most of all I liked the music. Secret Affair was my entry point, but they were soon playing second fiddle in my affections to The Jam. Paul Weller, of course, proceeded to break mine and many others hearts in 1982, when he put an end to that particular musical roller coaster – but what it meant was that, uninterested in anything else that was happening in music at the time, I had to look back. I was lucky enough to be given two plastic bags full of 60s 45s by my uncle who used to stock the jukeboxes back in the day. Their contents included a number of Stax originals, plus the Who and the Small Faces, as well as Motown classics from The Four Tops and the Supremes. So, when Phil Collins charted in the mid 80s with 'You Can't Hurry Love' it was nice to be able to say: “I've got the original of that!” It became quite an irritating habit of mine over the years. These days I still enjoy discovering new, old music, be it soul, rnb or jazz, as well as witnessing mod taken another turn among today's youth with bands like The Strypes. My day job as a journalist means I am lucky enough to be able to write about music and modernism now and again. Other than that you'll find me mostly on the dance floor or on eBay still looking for that perfect A line dress.

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November 20, 2015 By : Category : Articles Fashion Front Page News Style Tags:, , ,
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Modclothin – Interview

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Fashion Scene 3

I recently caught up with Pete the owner of Modclothin’ in Nottingham, for a chat about his passion for fashion.

When and how did your passion for fashion come about?

It was back in 1979, something just clicked with the music and I never looked back.

When did you turn your passion into your profession?

I started from home in May 2005 selling online which was a bit a struggle because people were reluctant to buy from a seller who was only internet based. Oh how things have changed today!

When and where did Modclothin’ first open?

My first unit was based in Long Eaton, Nottingham, in a freezing cold turret in an old Victorian mill. I was two floors up with no lift and a giant spiral staircase, it made deliveries very interesting.

Modclothin’ is a very popular amongst the Modernist fraternity; please tell us more about the clothing range available in the shop?

We pride ourselves on stocking a range of good quality labels including Gabicci, Merc, Farah Vintage, Penguin Heritage, Gibson of London and of late some exquisite handmade pin & tab collar shirts from Hawkins & Shepherd. We also offer a semi bespoke suiting service which is where customers can get creative and design their own totally individual piece. We also stock a range of shoes, scarves, ties and accessories.

Are all the items sold in the shop available online?

Yes 95% are, we also have lots of exclusive offers on our Facebook page too some come over and like us.

Any famous clientele dropped by the shop?

We have suited and booted a number of local bands. We have a good relationship with a lovely lady named Charlotte who is responsible for dressing the cast of “This is England” and the really down to earth top bloke Perry Fitzpatrick who played ”Engines Off! – Flip” in (This is England). He model for us in between filming and other work commitments and I am hoping to get some of the others on board. We’ve suited some of the cast of “Skins” Andrew Shim “Milky” (This is England) a couple of film producers and provided clothing for all manner of TV shows including four cracking suits for the Eurovision song contest.

In 2010 you launched the Modclothin’ classic three button Mod suit, any plans to develop your own brand further in the future?

We are just in the middle of having some three button double breasted suits designed in some rather cracking POW checks. We’ve shown the materials to customers and they’ve been given the big thumbs up! We also make the “Ronnie” a cord safari style jacket which has proved very popular. Also the “Moon” jacket a shorter cord jacket great with a silk scarf for the more casual look. We can also make double breasted suits, shirts and trousers and am always happy to consult with customers whenever I can.

What about the female side of fashion at Modclothin’?

The female side has always taken a bit of a back seat but we are bringing it to the fore front with a range of 60’s inspired women’s clothing accessories and footwear. As my good wife says with every man there usually comes a woman, so it makes total sense. We’ve sourced some exciting new designers who make some amazing dresses from original 60’s patterns. We have trawled through wholesalers to pick out some great individual pieces, not just dresses but tops, jackets, trousers, scarves, shoes and handbags which will be ready very soon. While we’re talking women we are looking for female models to photograph our new Women’s range. We are lucky enough to have an amazing studio just above us so you will have a fun, professional modeling experience. Drop us a line if you would like to get involved.

How important to the Modclothin’ philosophy is it to have local people who know their onions about Modernist fashion working in the shop?

It’s always good to have knowledge. Knowledge is learning and listening and it’s always good to listen and take on board customer feedback and suggestions too. We learn a lot from our customers who come from all walks of life.

Why do you think the Mod style is still revered, respected and revisited with each new generation?

Because the Mod look is smart, timeless and unique.

What are your favorite vintage and modern fashion brands?

I like the old penguin vintage gear and loved the long collars on the polo shirts they are very stylish. New brands Gibson of London, sharp, class. I was also blown away with the Hawkins & Shepherd shirts at Moda this year.

Where do you see Modclothin’ heading in the future and any exciting projects coming up you want to tell us about?

We have an open day this year celebrating 10 years of Modclothin with bands, fashion show and some special offers, the date will be announced sometime in the summer. I also plan to renovate the shop and introduce DJ’s on a Saturday to make the Modclothin experience even more fun.

Where can we find you in Nottingham and what are the opening hours?

Check out our web links below and you can also find us at Unit 2, Block B, West End Mills, Leopold Street, Long Eaton, NG10 4QD. We open from 10.00am-4.30pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Main Site:
Online Shop

Social Networks:
Facebook 


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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March 17, 2015 By : Category : Articles Fashion Front Page Interviews UK Tags:, ,
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Peggy Moffitt

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Fashion Scene 3

Peggy Moffitt  – the LA mod

No-one quite combined art and fashion within their own form quite like American 60s model Peggy Moffitt. The model, who is now a sprightly 76 years-old, this year announced a return to fashion with the launch of her signature active label.  So in this issue of NUTS we thought we’d take a closer look at her unique style and how her image still embodies everything we love about the 60s and pop culture.

Born in California in 1939. Peggy’s interest in fashion started young when she began working in a Beverley Hills boutique in the evenings after school. She had planned on becoming an actress and attended drama school in New York for two years, landing her first role in the 1955 Jerry Lewis comedy – “You’re Never Too Young.” She also was later to star in 60s style flick – “Blow-up.”

That all changed when she met her partner and husband-to-be, Jazz music photographer Bill Claxton. Claxton was already doing some work for the designer Rudi Gernreich. The combination of Claxton’s pop photographic style, Peggy’s unique performance-approach to modelling and Gernreich’s modernist clothes, for many, defined the look of the 60s era.

Gernreich was constantly breaking new ground with his designs. His pieces would stand the conventions of women’s fashion on its head. His geometric shapes and style worked brilliantly with Moffitt’s signature five-point Vidal Sassoon haircut and ‘Kabuki’ style make-up. Claxton meanwhile had a background in jazz photography – he therefore understood how to capture a free-spirited sense of movement that the jazz movement embodied.

It was however Moffitt’s acting out of the clothes and unique poses that made her and the clothes she modelled stand-out. She was one of the first models to take this new ‘involved’ approach to fashion.

“I don’t think I modelled like other people. I knew how to move in a different way. I used to change the way I walked by what I wore.” she said in an interview recently in fashion trade bible, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD). “I liked to have fun with clothes!”

Her style was so influential in the 60s that she even starred as herself in the satirical send-up of the fashion industry: ‘Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?’ The 1966 cult French film by director and photographer William Klein features a classic shot of Peggy applying her signature style eye make-up.

However, most sensational image that this threesome became known for was from the 1964 shoot for Gernreich’s ‘monokini’ or topless swimsuit. Even though the image and the design was intended to express a kind of emancipation of women – many found the image extremely shocking and it had quite the reverse effect. Ironically, the bathing suit itself was never intended for commercial production but ended up selling in its thousands.

Moffitt had a big influence on other models of the 60s including Twiggy, who she worked with on her second shoot. The pose, which was inspired by the idea of Madonna and child, was Moffitt’s idea. “The photographer asked me to help her. I’m trying to show her about light and I decided oh, I’ll be Madonna and she’ll be my Baby Jesus,” Moffitt says.

When Rudi Gernreich died in 1985, Moffitt obtained legal rights to his designs. These were recently exhibited at the LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art in a show called: The Total Look: The Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt, and William Claxton.

The model owns some 300 of his designs and is still seen wearing them today, proving the classic style never really dates.

See as part of this article: A great short film by director Phil Pinto shot at Peggy Moffitt’s LA home.


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Claire Mahoney

At the age of 13 mod made perfect sense to me. I liked the look and the attitude - but most of all I liked the music. Secret Affair was my entry point, but they were soon playing second fiddle in my affections to The Jam. Paul Weller, of course, proceeded to break mine and many others hearts in 1982, when he put an end to that particular musical roller coaster – but what it meant was that, uninterested in anything else that was happening in music at the time, I had to look back. I was lucky enough to be given two plastic bags full of 60s 45s by my uncle who used to stock the jukeboxes back in the day. Their contents included a number of Stax originals, plus the Who and the Small Faces, as well as Motown classics from The Four Tops and the Supremes. So, when Phil Collins charted in the mid 80s with 'You Can't Hurry Love' it was nice to be able to say: “I've got the original of that!” It became quite an irritating habit of mine over the years. These days I still enjoy discovering new, old music, be it soul, rnb or jazz, as well as witnessing mod taken another turn among today's youth with bands like The Strypes. My day job as a journalist means I am lucky enough to be able to write about music and modernism now and again. Other than that you'll find me mostly on the dance floor or on eBay still looking for that perfect A line dress.

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June 17, 2016 By : Category : Fashion Front Page Style Tags:, , , , ,
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Dedicated Followers of Fashion: 1964 -1970

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Fashion Scene 3

The rise of the ‘Dandie’ man

In the same way that The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were the main players of popular music back in the 1960s, the same could also be said of King’s Road and Carnaby Street as being the main locations to purchase young men’s clothing. The King’s Road being rather aptly named!  With the Beatles and the Stones, it was the individual members that gave each of those bands their personalities. The same could also be said of the shops and boutiques that littered these two London locations, which in turn gave both locations a personality of their own. With this article I am concentrating on one of these clothing boutiques in particular.

As with all the best stories, a lot of what happened was purely down to being in the right place at the right time. This and a lot of throwing caution to the wind!

Throughout my research I have been lucky to have been given first hand accounts by two people who were associated with ‘Dandie Fashions’ to differing degrees.

There is actually very little known and written about ‘Dandie Fashions’, which I find all the more surprising when you think about the kind of people who were associated with the shop. Where some boutiques are now held in legendary status, ‘Dandie Fashions’ seems to have slipped down the imaginary crack that also holds many bands, poets and artists. What made my research even harder, was that the information available on ‘Dandie Fashions’ has either conflicting dates or information or is just plain incorrect. Hopefully I will be able to fill in some of the gaps in the story and try to put dates to certain times that were significant in the tenure of ‘Dandie Fashions’. Frustratingly, some of the research has left me with many questions that still need answering and, because certain people who were involved with ‘Dandie Fashions’ are sadly no longer with us – those questions simply may never be answered.

‘Dandie Fashions’ was the brainchild of one person, and that person was John Crittle. John was born in Mullumbimby, New South Wales, Australia, in 1942. Little is known of his formative years and how he fell in to the world of men’s fashion design. John arrived in the UK around 1964.  He arrived before the main influx of well-known Australians that became household names – Germaine Greer, Martin Sharp, Philippe Mora, and Richard Neville, to name a few.  John had a striking image and a similar personality to match. Harnessing these fortunate attributes to the full, it didn’t take John long to get himself established amongst London’s young and hip in-crowd. A fortunate turn of events landed John his first real employment within London’s rapidly expanding men’s fashion industry, through meeting Michael Rainey, who was the manager of London’s most hip-and-happening boutique at the time, ‘Hung On You’. The location of this boutique initially was 22 Cale Street, Chelsea, later relocating to 420 King’s Road.  John would’ve been a designer and a fabric locator within this establishment. Rainey himself was an already recognised aristocrat amongst the ‘Chelsea set’. This was expanded upon when he got together with, and married, London socialite, Jane Ormsby-Gore. It didn’t take that long before the intimidating ‘Hung On You’ became the shop of the stars. Rainey himself recalls: “When The Beatles and The Who started to visit my boutique, I knew we’d made it.” ‘Hung On You’ even won some prized commissions to design and produce stage wear for The Beatles.

So you can imagine, within this elite circle of people, it was a natural environment for John to start networking and making a name for himself.
It became crystal clear very early on that John was never going to fit in with Michael’s aristocratic network of friends. John much preferred a beer in a pub to an art installation or a theatre show. Michael took an instant disliking to John’s uncouth behaviour and it wouldn’t be long before ‘the writing was on the wall’. With all this in mind, we can safely say that John would’ve been seriously thinking about going it alone around the springtime of 1966. He knew what he wanted and he knew how to get it. ‘Dandie Fashions’ was now literally just around the corner.

56 Queen’s Gate Mews, Knightsbridge.

This is where my story gets quite complicated. You have to appreciate that all this happened nearly 50 years ago. Most of the names involved were very young men who were, lets say, living life to the full, and therefore one can expect a bit of memory fraying along the way!  As far as I am aware, nothing has ever really been written about the said location before. It has been recognised in print that there was a temporary location before ‘Dandie Fashions’ relocated to 161 King’s Road.

For John to make this all happen, he needed help from some friends, and he was lucky to have a good pool to call upon. Firstly, he managed to secure financial backing from Neil Winterbotham. Neil was one of the partners in the ‘Hung On You’ boutique. He also managed to secure the ‘Foster and Tara’ clothing designers for the business. Tara Browne was a well-known socialite amongst the in-crowd – being the heir to the Guinness fortune. Tara was interested in making his own way in the world, and when he moved from Ireland to London he also fell in with the young and hip from the arts and entertainment worlds. His interest in men’s clothing led him to starting up his own tailoring company, ‘Foster and Tara’. Added to this, he wasn’t short of money, so the safety net was always at  hand if the clothing enterprise came to nothing. John now had the financial backing and a unit that would make his designs. He just needed somebody to manage the new enterprise. This is where a smart and handsome 18-year-old, Alan Holston, enters in to the frame.

Alan was working for ‘Woolens of Knightsbridge’ when he came in to contact with John at one of London’s hip clubs, the Speakeasy. Alan recalls that John already knew his older sister.  John must have liked what he saw in Alan and vice-versa, as Alan quit a stable career at Woolens for an uncertain future as the manager of the new venture, ‘Dandie Fashions’! Whether employing somebody so young was intentional or not, I think it was a master stroke, as when someone is that age, consequences are usually an afterthought, and hey, this was the ‘Swinging Sixties’ after all!  The exact date of the opening is now lost in the mist of time, but  I can say that it would’ve been probably July/August 1966. Alan remembers the shop being tiny, with two small rooms. The back room/office had one table and chair.  In the main room was one clothed mannequin and a few books with pictured designs and fabric samples. There was no big fanfare opening ceremony. As Alan says, the shop “just opened!” Another interesting character also enters the frame at this point of the story, Michael Williams.

Michael started his career as a hairdresser. He was a stunning young man who had an exceptional taste in clothing. This got him noticed, by chance, by a model agency. This then led on to a very successful early career as a model, which in turn led to bit parts in films – one being ‘Smashing Time’. Michael says that it was a chance meeting at the then well-known coffee-house, ‘Kenco’s’, that he got to meet John Crittle. He says that John started talking to him because of his whole appearance. They quickly became good friends. Michael recalls John being a boisterous personality, but plenty of fun to be around. When John arranged his first fashion shoot for ‘Dandie Fashions’, he called in his handsome model friend (with the help of some lovely ‘dollybirds!’), to participate in the Hyde Park session. Michael also recalls in his assistance in finding the 56 Queen’s Gate Mews location, at a weekly rate of £25! Whether Michael actually worked at the Mews address is slightly unclear, but he definitely remembers being in the shop.

For ‘Dandie Fashions’ to really become a proper retail outlet, it would have to relocate – this was never going to be achieved while located at Queen’s Gate Mews. I strongly believe that John had big ambitions and felt that he had something unique to offer that was not available from the other established businesses in the world of men’s fashion at the time. I also suspect that John might have had an extra incentive in bringing his business to King’s Road, i.e. to get one over on his last employer maybe? Whatever his reasons, King’s Road was the one and only address he had in mind.

161 King’s Road

‘Dandie Fashions’ opened its doors within the new location in October 1966. Again, there was no big fanfare for this auspicious occasion. Alan Holston recalls the shop being a ground floor and a basement. All the walls were painted black. There was a long black counter with a glass top situated opposite the main entrance. There were hanging rails around the side walls. Some stairs were situated at the rear that led up to a stock room, office, and a changing room. We’re also lucky to have photographic evidence of this that shows all sorts of interesting Victoriana nestled amongst the jackets and shirts displayed in both windows. Alan also remembers American west coast Fillmore posters hanging on the walls.  One window display even had a large-sized picture displaying the head and shoulders of Mr Timothy Leary. ‘Dandie Fashions’ was an instant success and it seemed like the cream of the crop of London’s in-crowd couldn’t get enough of what John was creating. This was the perfect vehicle for Tara Browne’s tailoring company, ‘Foster and Tara’. As many will know, Tara unfortunately was killed in a car crash while on his way to meet the team of Dudley Edwards, Douglas Binder, and David Vaughan, to discuss the design for the shop front. This incident will forever be immortalised in The Beatles’ song, ‘A Day In The Life’. Tara’s untimely death also inspired The Pretty Things’ song, ‘Death Of A Socialite’. After his death, John bought out Tara’s share in the business and continued to use Tara’s tailoring company. The now-famous multicoloured shop front was completed in early 1967.

The shop became a kind of hang-out place, and even served as a hotel of sorts for some notable people, one being a certain Mr Jimi Hendrix, as well as John, and even his mother who slept over while on a visit from Australia. ‘Dandie Fashions’ clothed all the big names from The Beatles to The Stones – in particular Brian Jones, who really took his dandified look to unassailable heights while being adorned in the finest threads that Dandie’s had to offer. If you were a ‘somebody’ you really had to own clobber from Dandie Fashions.

Of course we can’t forget Jimi Hendrix, who loved to shop at 161 King’s Road, and as with Brian Jones, there is plenty of photographic evidence available of both gentleman sporting some incredible, to-die-for, garments from the shop. I did ask Alan who he rated for their sartorial elegance, and the two names that he mentioned were Andy Bown and Jimi Hendrix – Andy Bown being a regular customer from the Queen’s Gate Mews shop onwards.

As for the clothing, you could purchase jackets and trousers in the most beautiful coloured velvets and brocades, shirts in silks and satins, with ruffles and scarves. It really was an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ for any self-respecting peacock around town! There was the ‘off-the-peg’ clothing, but the bespoke tailoring service was the main criteria for shopping at ‘Dandie Fashions’; to have that unique garment certain to get you noticed amongst London’s main players on the social scene. Unfortunately, like most stories involving the rich and famous of the 1960s, a drugs bust was inevitable. One of which did actually occur within the shop. John got himself in to trouble with the law on a number of occasions, one of which ended up with him losing his driving licence. This is where Freddie Hornik enters the frame. Freddie worked at the Speakeasy and became friends with John. When John lost his licence, he asked Freddie to become his chauffeur, and from there Freddie ended up working in the shop.

Apple Tailoring

The Apple Boutique famously opened its doors to the public in December 1967. The shop was located on Baker Street. The colourful and eye catching mural painted by The Fool collective, became a landmark tourist attraction, as did gazing in the windows at the wonderful and way-out creations adorning the mannequins and rails, or just hoping to catch a glimpse of a Beatle. Neil Aspinall was the director of Apple Corp and was looking to expand on the initial Apple Boutique. The Beatles, as well as Neil, were all familiar with Dandie Fashions, and John Lennon had become good friends with John Crittle; their friendship being forged back when Crittle worked at ‘Hung On You’. In February of 1968, Neil bought 50% of Dandie Fashions, which made Apple Corps equal partners with John Crittle. In May of 1968, Dandie Fashions became Apple Tailoring. This saw the end of that wonderful Edwards, Vaughan and Binder creation of a shopfront, and in its place came a more serious-looking shop signage.

The purpose of this shop was to offer the discerning male customer a bespoke service, rather than the ‘off-the-peg’ service that was available at the Baker Street location. As well as this bespoke service, the basement of 161 King’s Road became a hairdressing salon, which was run by Leslie Cavendish. Apple Tailoring lasted longer than the Baker Street boutique but it too closed its doors in 1968. Apple Corps decided to withdraw from High Street commerce and handed the business and all the stock over to John Crittle. Unfortunately, after this business disaster, it was near impossible for John to claw back and make his business become viable again. The times had changed, as well as the fashion. The peacock revolution had now run out of steam and all the wonderful possibilities of only a year before had all but faded away.

The legacy…

John Crittle eventually relocated back to Australia, where he died in 2000. These days John is remembered for the fact that he was the father of the prima ballerina, Darcey Bussell.

Alan Holston made the wise decision and left Dandie Fashions as it was in the throws of becoming Apple Tailoring. Alan became the manager of the up and coming female designing team, ‘Deborah and Clare’. He was instrumental in their location to Beauchamp Place, SW3. Alan mentioned to me that the interior was designed by the then in-demand, fellow dandy, David Mlinaric. In the 1970s, Alan moved in to the record industry, working for Anchor Records. Alan is married with one daughter. And I am happy to say that he still looks stylish… once a Dandie, always a dandy!

Freddie Hornik left at around the same time as Alan. Freddie must have got a taste for the men’s clothing industry because he ended up buying out Nigel Waymouth’s stake in a dwindling ‘Granny Takes A Trip’. He injected some life in to what was once, only a year before, the most famous of all the boutiques. He would eventually take the GTAT business over to the USA where it again became a legendary name. Freddie and GTAT is another story!

‘Dandie Fashions’ never really became as well-known as ‘Granny Takes A Trip’, ‘Hung On You’, and quite a few more. The reason for this is unclear to me, as everything was in place, from the iconic shop front to the famous clientele. To the trained eye it is obvious to pick out who was wearing a ‘Dandie Fashions’ garment from the array of photographs we have at our disposal today via the internet. ‘Dandie Fashions’ clothing is highly collectable, and when a piece does hit the open market, it usually demands a suitably high price. It would be a dream for me to one day actually own a piece from that wonderful shop myself.


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Peter Feely

Married to Susie, both actively involved in the UK 60s scene for many years. My personal interest in 1960s culture goes back over 30 years, with my main two passions being music and fashion, both in equal measure. I run my own menswear label – ‘Perfumed Garden’ clothing, catering for the discerning dandy male - in addition to sourcing and selling vintage mens’ gear, with a particular interest in those hard-to-find jackets and shoes! I also run the Facebook group, ‘Psychedelic Clothing for Men: Then and Now’, with 2200+ members. Although I have no formal training in the fashion industry, what I do possess is a real passion, and through the years I have gained valuable knowledge of many areas of mens’ fashion from the mid to late 1960s. I’m also a musician and have played in many bands in my younger years. I’m an avid collector of music and music-related paraphernalia. I started running my own club nights back in the mid-1990s, and at present I run a psychedelic night in Derby – ‘The Perfumed Garden Of Musical Delights’. Through this I also get to DJ at many exciting events up and down the country

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July 8, 2015 By : Category : Articles Fashion Front Page Scene UK Tags:, , ,
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