Today my post is more of a plea- particularly one to my fellow vintage collectors and sellers. As many regular readers of my blog will know I am currently completing research towards my PhD which focuses primarly on the work of little known fashion designer Frederick Starke. I am on the hunt for garments by Starke. If you have pieces in your collection that you are willing to share pictures of I would love to see them! I am also looking to buy Frederick Starke garments, so if you have any for sale, I would love to see- and potentially purchase (please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org). Date of garments is not important- I know Starke was producing clothing between c.1934-1968 under his own label and then later as Frederick Starke at Redlan.
Here are a few examples of the labels found in Starke’s garments.
The earliest Frederick Starke label I am aware of (I’ve seen in this in garments I know date up to around 1952)
The label most often found in Starke garments. Found in one of my most prized Starke suits which also has the monogrammed Starke lining
Starke produced exclusively garments for a couple of stores so you sometimes find this label
Later Frederick Starke at Reldan label
Jacques Fath and model, 1951
The word I would probably use to describe my PhD research at the moment is “frustrating”, just when I am getting somewhere I hit a brick wall, where no further information can be found. At the moment the biggest query hanging over my research brain is the whereabouts of the Jacques Fath archive. I have long since been an admirer of Jacques Fath, however, I believe owing to his untimely death in 1954 (and subsequent closure of his couture house in 1957), that his work is not quite given the place it deserves.
In the past few month I have found myself becoming somewhat obsessed with Fath. In-depth analysis of a number of Frederick Starke garments, and further research in major publications led me to realise that in the late 1940s and early 1950s the designer that Starke was mostly copying/ adapting from was in fact Fath. Of course, this led me on the path of tracking down original Fath garments/ sketches. My search however has gone cold, and I am hoping by putting out something of a public appeal- someone might be able to help. in 2006 an archive of Jacques Fath work, containing over 3000 sketches went up for auction. However, after that the archive seems to have slipped off the face of the earth. I can find no mention of it, nor any items that were contained within it since. So where did it go? Does a museum have it? Or did it end up in private hands? If anyone knows I would love to hear more…
I’m from Sutton in Surrey/ Greater London a town that today is perhaps not best known for its fashion credentials, however there was once a very well respected fashion boutique in Sutton that I’ve been trying to trace the history of.
Whilst reading Raymond Zelker’s memoir “The Polly Peck Story” I was intrigued to read about a popular boutique called Renee Shaw in Sutton- even more so as it was owned by a lady called Renee Shaw, the wife of fashion wholesaler Samuel Sherman. Sherman owned the hugely successful brand Sambo (and its various spin off’s including Dollyrockers whom Patti Boyd famously modelled for early in her career), however until this point I had never heard of his wife…and so my investigations began.
My initial research didn’t get me very far. A single photo on Francis Frith demonstrated that in 1965 the shop was at the top of the high street, next to Lloyds bank, however owing to the angle of the photo it is difficult to see the shop frontage (link to photo here).
After finding this first image I didn’t get much further and put Renee Shaw to the back of my mind whilst continuing my PhD research into Frederick Starke. My only other reference found was in a Harper’s Bazaar editorial from December 1962 which suggested that Renee Shaw was stocking a Liberty Dress by Sambo. (See below)
I ALWAYS do my best research by accident though, and in the past two weeks have turned up two gems relating to Renee Shaw. Firstly, whilst going through a 1948 Frederick Starke showroom diary I found that Shaw was amongst the buyers at one of Starke’s shows. This suggested to me that the store was stocking high-end ready to wear merchandise and, it also demonstrated that the shop must have been open between at least c.1948-c.1965. This week however I struck (in my opinion) GOLD. Whilst flicking through obscure trade journal Fashion Trade Weekly I FINALLY found a picture of Renee Shaw’s shop after a revamp. Full text and picture below.
From the November 11th 1948 issue of Fashion Trade Weekly.
My question now has to be, who remembers Renee Shaw? I am sure there must still be a fair few people around who once frequented the shop. For reference (and anyone who knows Sutton today) Renee Shaw occupied the white part (can’t think of a better way to put it!) of Lloyds bank.