Celia Birtwell book: A review and investigation

For Christmas I received a rather delightful book that I had wanted for a while the new book on Celia Birtwell. What I like about this book is that it is a real marriage between beautiful images of original garments, Celia’s prints and tales from the time. It gives you an insight into Celia’s life and also  helps you to better understand her prints. It not only gives an insight into her heyday in the late 60s and 70s but brings you right up to the present. For any print aficionado I cant recommend it highly enough.

I have a bit of a book obsession. This is my book shelf in my uni house. Almost all of these books are about fashion history with a few books dotted in about some of my other random obsessions too (graffiti, mid century typography Dali and Gaudi feature heavily)

What I also really liked was that it gave me a few more clues into the interesting links between Alice Pollock, Ossie Clark, Quorum and Radley. Which has been one of my big vintage obsessive research areas of the past six months.

Reading the book helped me to uncover something really interesting. This is the Celia prints on Radley dresses debate. Something that I’d long known about was that Ossie was fiercely protective over Celia’s designs and whilst designing for Radley Celia rarely produced any designs for Radley which were not on Ossie dress designs. Why therefore does the odd definite Celia print occur on Radley dresses without the magic Ossie name too?

Well, the book sheds some light on this Ossie stopped working with Radley in 1973 but Celia continued to work with Radley (producing 2 fabric collections a year) until 1976. It would appear therefore that those unmistakable Celia designs that are sometimes seen on Radley dresses without the accompanying Ossie name date between 73-76. Helping me to date my own lovely Celia Birtwell print dress.

The book helped me further with this dress too. Whilst I’m still not 100% sure of the exact print it is definitely one of her bouquet prints which were some of her most popular designs.
I love a good bit of fashion investigation, and I highly recommend purchasing this book too!

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