Bonnie J Brown
Spring 2011 is sure to see trendy women everywhere garbed in loose flowing gowns, peasant tops, high-waisted pants and delicate prints. It’s the reemergence of 1970’s fashions with its easy elegance for high society as well as some high-drama for the rock-and-rollers. Ossie Clark, born Raymond Clark, was a major player in creating the trends and go-to fashions during the late 60’s through the 70’s and many of his styles are being adopted for this upcoming spring and summer.
Clark, born in England in 1942, developed his tailoring and sewing skills at a young age making clothes for dolls and even outfitting the neighborhood girls with swimsuits. However, it was his studies in architecture that helped build his skills as a designer the most, by teaching him proportion and balance. Clark was also heavily influenced by Pop art, which helped him develop his design aesthetic and which ultimately launched him into his career. A dress he presented during his final runway show for school featured flashing light bulbs. The dress was an instant success, at least in grabbing everyone’s attention and was featured in many fashion publications the very next day.
Alice Pollock, owner of Quorum, a popular boutique at the time, in London’s King’s Road, featured his designs and eventually would buy out entire collections. Clark eventually collaborated with girlfriend and future wife, Celia Birtwell, who was a textile designer. Their collaboration was very successful. The feminine, sometimes quirky patterns Birtwell designed were perfectly crafted into loose flowing dresses and tops, celebrities, including American movie star, Ali MacGraw would often wear his clothing. His clothing designs were made to imitate those of what dancers would wear, allowing ease of movement and comfort. In addition to his runway designs, Clark created stage costumes for a number of musicians, including Mick Jagger and Liza Minnelli. His success and popularity had him dubbed the â€œKing of King’s Road.â€
While Clark’s talent as a designer was unquestionable, his skills at running a successful business were sorely lacking and Quorum, in order to stay in business, was sold to the fashion house, Radley. However, Clark’s drug addiction eventually helped in his collapse as well as the arrival of the 80’s and the want for a different, less blousy look.
The Ossie Clark brand had a short lived revival in 2009 under the designing expertise of Avsh Alom Gur, unfortunately the revival didn’t last more than two season. Instead we have vintage Ossie Clark to enjoy as well as updated versions from today’s designers.
1. Ossie Clark Suit, 1972
2. Ossie Clark Crepe Dress With Celia Britwell Print
3. Ossie Clark Soft Pinky Cream Silk Dress With Celia Birtwell Floral Print
4. Ossie Clark Silk Rayon Celia Birtwell Printed Maxi Dress
5. 1970s Ossie Clark Trouser Suit
6. Ali MacGraw In Ossie Clark, 1969
Image Layout: Molly Murphy