February 3, 2013
SUNDAY FROM MY DESK
A beautiful spring day in Milano – in February – one could almost like global warming with a day like this – and I am working on a new project, the diary of the 10 Corso Como journey. With the desk full of books, looking through the journey of BIBA, through the Indian published books with texts by Barbara Hulanicki, Biba’s foundress. These books are an inspiration for all of us who remember and lived in this time, and should also be remembered by students and young designers. So much of the future rests in the fun we had in the past. It is important to remember always the fun.
It was 1964 when Biba opened in Abingdon Road and started the journey of the art of creating an abundance of new things. It seemed every day another wonderful idea would come forward and Barbara became the designer, the artist, the stylist and the magician for all the young girls in London and beyond. She was such an inspirer and an aesthete, that no trip to London was worthwhile if you did not find time to run to Biba. For more than ten years, the extravagant world of Biba, and all the wonderful ideas and products Biba produced, became the ultimate
expression of English fashion and style of the 60’s and 70’s.
Uniqlo’s Designer Invitation project is bringing some wonderful and different lines of clothing to market, so it is beautiful news that Uniqlo is teaming up with Celia Birtwell. It is another step towards bringing the love of prints and a bit of fantasy back into the fashion world. Celia is such an icon that her new capsule collection including dresses, t-shirts and tote bags being introduced in March will be a sure hit.
This portrait of Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell was done by David Hockney in 1970. It’s title is Mr. & Mrs. Clark and Percy. The cat’s name is really Blanche, but Hockney did not think that a good name for the painting, so he called it after another cat they owned, Percy. It became a great success, a wonderful double portrait in a series Hockney was painting at that time.
As the years went by, its popularity has grown and it was voted one of the ten best paintings in Britain in 2005. It is now at the Tate Gallery in London.
Her prints are as strong today as they were in the 60’s and 70’s. Her major contributions to the world of prints, in both clothing and interiors, has been internationally recognized since 1965 when,
as the wife of Ossie Clark, she designed all the fabrics for his collections. Together they dressed all of the fashion trendsetters of the time from The Beatles to Talitha Getty; the Rolling Stones to Jimmy Hendrix and
even the British Aristocracy. As a close friend of David Hockney, he would draw and paint her likeness into many of his works.
The press used to call Ossie “The King of King’s Road”. During the period between ’65 and ’74 he was glorious. His reputation was at its zenith. He was designing the most beautiful dancing dresses and wonderful shoes; paper dresses and snakeskin jackets. Everything he made was so “cool”. He dressed the rich and famous in New York and Paris as well as London, and made costumes for the most famous musicians. If Ossie was King, they were the gods in those days. His diaries were published in 1998 after his death and worth finding a copy of the book.
Here Ossie Clark with model Chrissy Shrimpton in a David Bailey photograph.
I was living in London in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Terence Donovan was, along with David Bailey and Brian Duffy, one of the first photographers to be considered a celebrity along with their subjects. “The Terrible Three” as Cecil Beaton labeled them in his book in the early ’70’s. He shot so many of the great shots of Swinging London for Harpers and Vogue, it is easy to forget he also directed
films and music videos as well as painted canvases.
The Designer Invitation Project recalls our own NN project we founded in 1991 with the purpose of opening a creative studio of ever-changing new and emerging designers. Where no one would be the center of attention and where prints would play a key design role, a seed was planted then for this great idea.
Pierre Paulin is one of my favourite designers for many reasons. The shape of this carpet and its design are so beautifully graphic, it will always be modern. And to know that one can today call Ligne Roset and buy it is such a joy.
Danish design has always been a favourite of mine. Here a set of enameled steel bowls in a beautiful bright red. They were designed by a Danish engineer in 1953 – Herbert Krenchel – and he named them Krenit bowls, a combination of his own name and the word, eternity. He won the Triennale gold medal
here in Milan in 1954 for this unique design.
The most simple of gestures, storing ice, can be a pleasure using this ice bucket by Finn Juhl. Also Danish, Juhl was a leading figure in the design movement of the 20th century as an architect, interior designer and industrial designer. Because of his wide ranging creativity in ceramics, glassware and furniture, he not only won a gold medal at the Milano Triennale in the 50’s, he actually won five!