Finding Miss Mouse

There’s only one person other than Frederick Starke whom I would have contemplated writing my PhD thesis on; Rae Spencer-Cullen a.k.a Miss Mouse. There is surprisingly little information out there about one of the 1970s most iconic designers, however every now and again I’ll come across a few articles about her, as was the case today. I’m just sharing one for now, but should you have any more information or memories about the brand I am all ears! (Perhaps I already have an idea for some post-doctoral research…)

 

IMG_5603

Daily Mail, October 10th 1972

The Fab Four

Dressed, stunningly to their own design

Barbara Griggs

It’s easy to suppose that girls who design clothes have no problems when it comes to their own personal appearance. They know about design and fashion and colour and all that, don’t they?

 

In practice, of course, it’s not all that easy for them. Girls who design clothes ave the same problems of time and organisation as any of us- often much worse.

They have the same kind of hang-ups about their hair, their figure, their looks, as you or me. And even if their clothes are ‘free’ they still have to buy accessories.

 

So how well do they make out? I invited four of our most exciting young designers to be photographed for Femail waking their own favourite clothes from their own range, looking the way they feel suits them best.

 

The result? Spectacular, as you can see. Four women looking a knockout in their own individual ways.

 

Showy

Rae of Miss Mouse (left) does’t give a damn about conventional fashion.

She arrived wearing her own midi dress in a soft lime, white and black abstract print, trimmed with dotted black cotton; lots of pearls; a gold and black rose; sheer black tights; and larky, platform-soled shoes from the Chelsea cobbler.

She was the only one NOT in trousers; ‘The thing about dresses is the very nice things that go with them’ she says; like scent and artificial flowers and rather naughty shoes.

‘I can leap straight out if a bath into a dress and feel smart at once. But I’m a bit bored with those long dresses, it’s nice to have a bit of ankle.

Classy

Pauline of Pauline Wynne-Jones (standing at the back) makes very simple, very beautiful dresses and cardigan jackets and long pleated skirts; loves crepe; keeps her colours calm and sober.

She turned up in wide trousers made of ginger gaberdine, and its own matching belted coat with big gathered sleeves; ‘there didn’t seem to be a coat around that went with my dresses and trousers, so I designed this one.’ With her ginger- a simple dark brown sweater.

‘I love dresses’ she said rather guiltily, ‘but seldom wear them’.

‘But I could live in trousers, in this one outfit. I’d like it in black velvet for evening. I’d love to have it in Donegal tweed too.’

Ritzy

Katherine Hamnett of Tuttabankem (in the chair) turned up wearing her own swinging full-cut shirt-jacket, in copper coloured suede, with wide matching trousers, an ivory crepe shirt, two copper-coloured thin belts.

Accessories were a tiny brown and white tweed cap stuck with a 30s glass hatpin; beautifully decorated black suede gloves to her elbows an enormous grey chrysanthemum, and deep red river gauche pumps.

She is convinced that one great enemy of good dressing is diffidence;

‘Look at Italian women, they’re PROUD of their bodies. English women are ashamed of their bodies, only happy when they are in some inconspicuous uniform.

Sporty 

Juliet of Juliet Dunn (right) arrived wearing her camel trousers with a perfect cream silk shirt and a belted check jacket and a matching hat in camel, beige and grey- ‘my three favourite colours’.

Plus a huge silver fox stole,  the same dotty Chelsea Cobbler shoes are Rae, and a silver J on a chain from Gucci.

She was a bit apologetic about her trousers. ‘Tomorrow I am going to throw away all my trousers and start living in skirts. Pleated, just above the knee, with a silk shirt and beautiful jacket.

‘When it gets really cold I shall wear long pleated skirts and a cardigan under my jacket and my silver fox and lots of hats. The jacket will be very tailored.

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One thought on “Finding Miss Mouse

  1. Hi Liz, I was press officer for Topshop way back when and the pioneering Shopville area gave a platform for young, indie designers. Rae had a ‘concession’ there, and if my memory serves me well, Suzy Menkes, then Editor of the Evening Standard, featured a double page spread to launch the newly revamped store, featuring a blonde 50’s style model wearing a fab white Miss Mouse ‘costume’ and red spotted blouse at the foot of the iconic escalator. Those were the days!

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