An amazing Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell dress

Today I thought I would share a little bit about one of the simply sensational items I currently have listed on ebay.

See all the items currently available on my ebay here



It is this WONDERFUL dress which features a Celia Birtwell print by Ossie Clark. The dress not only charts an important point in fashion history but has to be one of the most gloriously swishy numbers I have ever come across.

Ossie Clark was an intriguing fashion character if there ever was one. He met Celia Birtwell who would both become his parter in a romantic and creative sense at Manchester college of art in the late 1950s. From here he went onto study at the Royal College of art ( it always makes me feel pretty special to think I’m studying for my masters at the same institution as some of the great designers and practitioners of the 20th century).

His graduate show from RCA was what catapulted him to success. His work was spotted by Alice Pollock, who formed her eponymous boutique Quorum in 1964. From 1966 onwards she was buying designs from Ossie at £10 a batch. These early designs for Quorum were mostly relatively plain pieces in neutral shades made from chiffon.

This dress though features the Ossie Clark for Radley label,  so where did this come into the equation? Around about 1967  Quorum got into financial difficulty and was bailed out by Alf Radley, this led to Ossie starting to design for Radley too from 1968 onwards.


This amazing dress is so typical of Ossie garments though due to the print, this is one designed by Celia Birtwell and gives an idea of the date of the dress. The print is a version of Celia’s tartan hearts. This bouquet based print was first designed around 1972 and is a delicate repeat print rather than one of the large all over prints that Birtwell created. The date 1972 seems to fit in especially well as Birtwell suggests in her book that in this year Ossie and Celia were working alot with combinations of moss crepe and satin.


This piece came from Naomi Thompson’s collection (as did many of the pieces I am selling this week). You can see her wearing it here at the secret shopping sale earlier this year.

So, do you want to get your hands on a rare piece of fashion history?

You can on ebay now!
Just click here for the auction which ends on Sunday

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!

A vintage day out: Leeds town hall vintage fair

Today I decided that I needed a day out. Unfortunately I’ve been stressed out to the max with uni work and unless I am going to university or the post office I have altogether stopped leaving the house. (O.k. I did go to Bristol last weekend, but we’ll discount that) On the plus side this means that all I have been wearing on an almost daily basis is pajamas (no ironing, excellent), but on a negative note I will probably start suffering with some of vitamin D deficiency because I rarely see natural light (I’m only in uni two days a week meaning I really do barely leave the house). This is heightened by the fact that my bedroom is what would have once been the front room of the house, hence I don’t open my curtains. Anyway, that’s enough about the depressiveness of my life! The real point of this is that today I went to a vintage fair, not only that a really rather good one!
So, the location of the vintage fair was Leeds town hall. Which as a venue is somewhere that I totally love. Very Victorian and just very Leeds as well. Whenever the antiques roadshow comes to Leeds this is where they always go.
I cannot recommend this fair HIGHLY enough. Fantastic was not the half of it. The sellers there were all lovely, happy to chat and up for a bit of bartering. Unfortunately due to the precarious state of my bank balance at the moment I had to be a bit restrictive on my spending. I could have bought so much more because prices were (on the part of most sellers) very reasonable. I saw a lot of high quality 50s cotton dresses of the sort I normally by at around the 25-40 price point which I think is pretty good.
For anyone interested in antique clothing and textiles this fair is a must. I actually lost count of the number of genuine Victorian dresses I saw. There was a particularly spectacular purple Victorian silk dress that I was amazed to see there. The condition was fantastic and unusually the silk had not shattered. It was difficult to tell hanging up exactly the age of the dress although the vivid purple of it immediately made me think 1860s, AND it was only £95. If I had had my dealer head on rather than my student head I would definitely have bought it!
First up this little knitted dress which I picked up for the bargain price of £10. The seller whom I bought this from was selling things at pretty amazing prices.  It was marked up as being 70s, but I’m not so sure. Something is saying to me its earlier (unfinished seams inside and a very old looking metal zip). I love chevron designs and this dress is going to be a great little winter piece I think. It’s an excellent fit too!
or Goodlife vintage on facebook
 Then I bought these shoes, again this lady was selling her items at really great prices (£10!)  I vey much regretted not snapping up a pair of crazy 50s cats eye marbled sunglasses for £15. She also had THE most sensational 30s wedding dress which was an almost exact copy of the dress worn by Wallis Simpson in 1937. It was in excellent condition too, whoever snapped that up got an absolute bargain I think.  Nearly all of the images here are from this lady’s stall. Lovely stuff!

 Beads and Bows

And finally my absolute gem of the day. A wonderful 70s Radley dress with a (probably) Celia Birtwell print. When I get a spare five minutes I am going to do a little bit of research into this and try and find out for sure that it is but I’m pretty sure it’s right. The dress is in wonderful condition and fits me like a dream. I’m so happy with it! The seller who I bought this from was wonderful. I can’t enthuse enough about how great her stock was. For someone who rarely does 70s it was a dream. She had lovely Radley pieces as well as some Bus Stop and Ossie Clark. I could have spent a few hundred on her stall alone!

Lady Jane’s vintage bandwagon

This is my outfit for the day, all this not leaving the house means that when I do go out I tend to make an effort! The dress is a Horrockses (what a surprise) and I’m wearing one of my fave pairs of vintage earrings from Brilliant in Kingston (Surrey). The cardi is a non vintage one. It’s from American eagle. I think I’ve had it since I was 12 or 13!

Also, I just thought this was a nice opportunity to throw in a few of my vintage outfits of late! Please ignore the mess of my room in the background of most of the pics. I’m not the tidiest of people at the best of times!
My all time favourite vintage dress (I think). This was the first Horrockses I ever bought, its getting a bit tight on me now but I still adore it. I was actually dancing manically around my room at the time, hence the picture of me jumping off my bed. It’s a pretty good action shot! In the background you can just about see my vintage wardrobe, yes I do have a specific wardrobe for vintage!!!
Ace novelty print 50s American skirt here. The necklace is from one of my fave vintage shops Mela Mela in Teddington
One of my blanes dresses. You may have seen my blue one in a previous post about the last vintage fair I went to.