Started on the 11th April 2011 - Blogging from a 20 year old Fashion Student

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


Fashion Profile: Sharon Tate

Sharon Tate, an icon of the 60s, was famed for her eclectic style and innocent on-screen presence. Similar to Brigitte Bardot, Tate worked as an actress and model throughout the decade and was hailed as one of Hollywood's most promising newcomers.

Born: 24th January 1943
Famous for: Although her horrific murder sometimes overshadows Tate's career, she was famed for her acting in films like "Valley of the Dolls" and "The Fearless Vampire Killers", regularly appearing as a cover-girl in fashion magazines.
Style Characteristics: Short shift dresses, she had a free-spirited style (Sharon often wore leather straps on her feet to look like sandals so she could walk into restaurants barefoot).

Early Life
Sharon Marie Tate was born in Dallas in the early 40s to Doris and  Paul Tate. Her father served in military intelligence, which meant that he was frequently away from home and often had little say in family matters.

Even as a child, Sharon was known to everyone as a pretty girl, and so her mother, Doris entered her into a beauty competition on a whim. Doris Tate only entered Sharon into a few beauty contests, but success seemed to come easily. She won many of these contests as a teenager, leading her to be photographed for an appearance on the front cover of Stars and Stripes magazine.

Her father strongly disapproved of this, but could do nothing to stop it due to his frequent absence from home. However, in 1959, this changed when he moved the family of five (Sharon had two younger sisters, Patti and Debra) to Italy where he was assigned to an army base in Verona.

Sharon was transferred to an American school for children of the military where she became a cheerleader and homecoming queen. Adored by everyone.

"She was an ordinary girl, with a simple, down-to-earth kindness but soon became a sexy and glamorous flower child." 

Film Career
While still at school in Italy, Tate and her friends became aware of, "Barabbas" (a film in production nearby). Sharon obtained parts for her and her friends as film extras. One of the films actors, Jack Palance, noticed Sharon's beauty in the crowd of extras and introduced himself. Palance encouraged her to pursue a film career, sparking an interest for Sharon.

In 1961, another film, "Adventures of a Young Man" was being filmed near Verona. Sharon was once again hired as an actress, catching the eye of yet another famous actor, Richard Beymer. He was impressed by her appearance, but couldn't judge her talent accurately enough as her part in the film was so small. He arranged for her to visit his agent, Hal Gefsky.

After graduating, Sharon convinced her family to let her fly back to America so that she could pursue an acting career - "Nineteen year old Sharon Tate was about to slip effortlessly into fame".

From Ordinary Girl to Glamorous Icon
Sharon never fantasised about being a "movie star", and yet success for her was never hard to come by.

Although she only gained small parts in television, Sharon Tate was becoming well known as a socialite. She met celebrity hairdresser, Jay Sebring at the Whiskey a Go-go (a popular haunt for musicians such as Jim Morrison). Tate and Sebring began a serious relationship, and started living together at his house on Easton Drive.

Sharon's healthy, all American, California girl look was in demand  by photographers and casting directors, yet she was often despised by already famous female Hollywood actresses (such as Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novac) because Sharon seemed to pose as a threat to them, a downside to her angelic beauty.

During her lifetime, Sharon Tate co-starred in seven major films. Her first being a macabre thriller, "Eye of the Devil", where Sharon played the part of a witch.

At that time, Sharon's aspirations in life were gravitating towards starting a family. However, after meeting her future husband, director Roman Polanski, Sharon's focus was drawn back into acting. Polanski cast her in her second film, "The Fearless Vampire Killers". After a series of dinner meetings (originally arranged for the purposes of casting her in the film), Sharon and Roman had fallen in love.

While Roman filmed "Rosemary's Baby", Sharon starred in an adaptation of the book, "Valley of the Dolls". It was in this film that Sharon was recognised as a style icon at the time; as the film's publicity played up her similarity to the character, Sharon often referred to her new image as "sexy little me".

Sharon and Roman became a couple famed for their occupations and became a fixture in the late 60s Hollywood "in crowd".

The couple socialised with actors, musicians (and even dined with senator Robert Kennedy, the night of his asassination). As their circle of celebrity friends grew larger, so did the public’s interest in their careers.

Despite Sharon's knowledge of Roman Polanski's infidelities, they married in Chelsea, London, in 1967. Roman famously said of his marriage to Sharon, "I want a hippie, not a housewife".

A little over a year after their marriage, Sharon fell pregnant with Roman's baby. However, she knew her husband didn't want to bring up his own children (he had spent most of his childhood in Nazi concentration camps and so his own childhood memories were tainted with their horrors). Sharon kept the pregnancy a secret from him for four months, until she began to show.
A British Pathe report on the wedding 
of Sharon Tate & Roman Polanski
By the summer of 1969, Sharon and Roman had moved to their new house on Cielo Drive, in time to prepare for their new baby. Sharon was at home with a few friends, as Roman had stayed in Europe to prepare for his new film.

On the 10th of August 1969, the bodies of Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and Sharon were found dead by the housekeeper. The deaths created shock throughout Hollywood as fear gripped everyone.

They had been murdered by disciples of Charles Manson, known as the Manson family. Manson directed his followers to Sharon's house on Cielo Drive, simply because he knew it well. Sharon Tate had been murdered completely at random.

"Many people I know in Los Angeles believed the 60s ended abruptly on August 9th, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive travelled like bush fire throughout the community"
-Author Joan Didion

Sharon died aged 26, she was eight and a half months pregnant.

Sharon's Wardrobe
Sharon at her home on Easton Drive
Theatrical trailer for Sharon's second film, 
"The Fearless Vampire Killers"
Footage of Sharon Tate
"All Eye on Sharon Tate"

Thursday, 15 December 2011


i-D is a British magazine that was set up by Terry Jones, who decided to design a magazine not to promote fashion products or consumerism, but celebrate "Street Style" fashion and  youth culture.

The first issue of   i-D was released in the September of 1980, I say "released" instead of published as it was originally a fanzine/DIY magazine which was pieced and stapled together by hand. 

Issue 1. sold a mere 50 copies (each at the price of just 50p - a steep difference from the more recent price of £5.50). Jones felt that the lack in sales was due to the fact that the magazine consisted primarily of "street style" (a concept which has grown in popularity since i-D has become more well-known) and had a very homemade feel to it. The writing was typed up on a type-writer and the models were members of the British public.

"The idea was to break down the pigeon-holing of identity and fashion; to go beyond the facade of fashion, so you could play it as a game. So you could inject more fun into the codes of fashion."
- Terry Jones (Editor-in-Chief of i-D)

Although the magazine has since evolved from a hand stapled fanzine, into a mature glossy magazine, the original mentality of "street style" and "youth culture" remains a prominent part of the magazine, separating it from all of its successors (such as Dazed & Confused or LOVE magazine) and predecessors (Vogue).

Terry Jones
Born in 1945 in Northampton, Terry Jones studied graphics in Bristol (but dropped out in protest when a favourite tutor resigned). 

Jones set up the magazine with his wife, Tricia (whom he married in 1968).

For many years, Terry has established himself as "one of the most experimental creative director of his generation". His career began designing the covers of Vanity Fair and Vogue (both British & Paris) in the 70s.

These covers were a harsh contrast to the more innovative designs used in i-D magazine

"The first few years of i-D were controlled chaos"

There was a creative aspect to designing for more established magazines like Vogue, however, i-D proved as a creative risk to Terry Jones. He wanted to venture out, trading in the years of demurely editing photographs for experimental graphic layouts. Terry often massacred images and text with his graphic design layouts, but this was what the magazine industry needed. It was a fresh take on 80s fashion. Post-modern.

Examples of Terry Jones' Experimental Layouts (Used in i-D)

(I can't believe I have a picture of him on my blog - what is the world coming to?!)

Front Covers of i-D Through the Ages
(more recent - back issues)

i-D's Winter Warm-up issue is on sale now!

Thursday, 17 November 2011


Fashion Profile: Mary Quant

Mary Quant, a Welsh fashion designer, has become a British icon through her influential role in the Mod fashion movement of the 60s.

Born: 11th February 1934
Famous for: Helping create a the defining style of the 60s - mod fashion.
Style Characteristics: Quant designed the mini-skirt (one of the most defining fashions of the 1960s) and popularised hot pants.

Early Life
Mary Quant was born to Welsh parents, who had moved to London to start their teaching careers. Her family had originally come from a Welsh mining background, however, Quant developed an interest in art and applied to study Illustration at Goldsmiths College (where she would later meet her future husband, Alexander Plunkett-Green, whom she married in 1957).

After gaining a diploma in Arts Education at Goldsmiths, Mary Quant took up an apprenticeship as a couture milliner - tying her love of art and fashion. It was during this apprenticeship that Mary Quant decided fashion should not exist for the priveleged few (much like the clients at the milliners) but for everyone, and more importantly, young people.

King's Road
Leaving her position as a couture milliner, Mary Quant opened a clothes shop on the King's Road, in London. Quant opened the boutique, Bazaar, with her future husband and a former solicitor, Archie McNair. 

After graduating from Goldsmiths, Quant had begun to make her own clothes as she strongly believed that fashion was directed at older generations ("fashion wasn't designed for young people"). She used the skills she had developed during this time to design for Bazaar

Mary saw this need for more youthful clothing and began to design clothes inspired by dance outfits she remembered wearing as a child; pairing simple, bold shapes with strong colours to create her garments - creating the "Chelsea Look", which would later become known as "mod". Other garments that helped Mary create the Chelsea Look were plastic collars, sleeveless shift dresses and hot pants - these were more revealing than previous fashions and many items of clothing used man made fabrics which was something never before seen.

The reason for her success was that she saw that girls in London were seeking a fresh look, they wanted to differentiate themselves from their parents (who were still immersed in the restrictive and "bland" fashions of the 40s and 50s). The mini skirt provided girls with a look that pushed the boundaries of fashion, aiming to shock the older generations. This controversy earned Quant the popularity she needed to develop as an iconic fashion designer.

"It had begun to dawn on us that, by luck, by chance, perhaps even by mistake, we were onto a huge thing. We were in at the beginning of a tremendous renaissance in fashion".

The Mini Skirt 
Famed for popularising, if not inventing, the miniskirt in 1966, the Welsh designer had revolutionised fashion (becoming known as one of the most popular designers of the 60s).

Skirts had noticeably been getting shorter since the late 50s. Although there is some controversy as to whether or not she invented the mini skirt, Quant certainly noticed the difference in skirt length and exploited it to the extreme of the mini skirt. Mary Quant considered this development to be a practical and liberating design as it allowed women to embrace and almost flaunt their sexuality. 

"It was the girls on the King's Road who invented the mini. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes; in which you could move, run and jump. We would make them the length the customer wanted, they would say "shorter, shorter" and we followed by command".

As Quant's designs were fashionable and affordable, it was suddenly acceptable and even mandatory to show a lot of leg as it was made available to everyone.

In accompaniment to the mini skirt, patterned tights were sold at Bazaar to complete the look that defined the 60s (later adapted by couture designers such as Cristobal Balenciaga).

The Look
Quant was a wonderful advertisement for her own designs. Her short, dark Vidal Sassoon hair style, easy-fitting blazer jackets and swingings skirts made her clothes more stylised. Customers would be inspired by Mary herself as she showed them how to create the more fashionable styles.

Like Barbara Hulanicki (designer for Biba), Quant designed for a girlish, less developed figure. The shift dresses and pinafores suited the boyish look promoted by models like Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. 

Mary Quant revolutionised 60s fashion by providing new clothes for younger markets. Fashion was not catering for the youth of Britain at the time, and so Quant designed to target such a gap in the market. She became popularised by the controversy surrounding the garments she created and her business thrived off this - eventually turning her into a British fashion icon.
Nigel Bamford talking about working with Mary Quant - for the V&A

A showcase of some of Mary Quant's designs from the late 60s.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


Fashion Profile: Kate Moss

Kate Moss, (deemed the "anti-supermodel" of the 90s) was discovered at a young age, and has grown to become one of the most iconic Brits of the fashion industry.

Born: 16th January 1974
Famous for: Being a fresh-faced model, turned temporary drug addict, turned designer.
Style Characteristics: Heroin chic & festival fashion (Kate often embraces the "model off-duty" look and is loved for her casual style of dress).

Early Life
Kate was born in Croydon, to a humble family (her mother was a barmaid, and her father, a travel agent). She was scouted in 1988 (at the age of just 14 years old) and her modelling career quickly catapulted her to the forefront of the fashion industry.

The Supermodel
Although Kate Moss is not often considered a supermodel; as in contrast to classic supermodels (such as Cindy Crawford and Elle McPherson), Kate embraced the waif-ish look of the 90s; she has still become one of the most famous models (of all time...?).
Moss changed the polished look of modelling and began to create controversy - she played a large role in the rise in size zero fashion as her slender figure was embraced throughout the industry.

She almost created a brand for herself (before her days of fashion design) where she gained the public's attention for her tempestuous romances, drug abuse and apparent eating disorders.

Heroin Chic
Kate "Mossy" Moss' modelling career truly began in the mid 90s after she became the face of Calvin Klein. She developed the "heroin chic" look which was characterised by pale skin, dark circles below the eyes and a bony bod. 

The popularity of heroin chic was due to the drugs increase in popularity within popular culture (appearing in many defining films such as Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting) and its overall use in society (it's price had decreased by the 90s due to the AIDs epidemic of the 80s).
... And so, fashion was influenced greatly by the decade's everchanging lifestyle.

The aesthetic soon became unpopular, however, as debates arose about the welfare of models who were demonstrating the trend by becoming "size-zero"; (many also felt that models and films were glamorising heroin).

Kate: The Designer
Modelling through to the noughties, Kate Moss decided to try her hand at designing clothes; as by then, she had become a fashion icon herself.

In May 2007, Moss released a collection of clothing designs for the British chain, Topshop. This chain was hyped with a "countdown to launch" leaving the fashion loving public eagerly awaiting the clothing range. She had caused a media frenzy as this was the first iconic model creating her own brand.

Reportedly, Topshop had paid Kate Moss £3 million for her collection of fifty designs (including skinny jeans, leather jackets and minidresses).

Since then, Kate Moss has designed a further 13 collections for Topshop - which have been sold worldwide (due to popular demand). She has also branched out to design for brands such as Longchamp and cosmetics company, Rimmel. Her design career has been greatly supported by designers and past clients such as Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, who saw her as muses.

Love Life
In 1994, Johnny Depp (then, a divorced, but still young, actor) and Moss (a fresh faced model) started their four year long relationship. The couple were famed for their multiple break ups, one of which happened in 1998, their last. Depp has recently spoken (of Kate) that they wanted different things for their lives:

"I don't think I was very good for her... She went on to bigger and better things, and I went on and fell in love and had kiddies".

Kate was also famed for her "festival fashion" as her relationship with Pete Doherty merged the couple's careers of fashion and music. The pair attended Glastonbury and The Isle of Wight Festival during their relationship, where Kate Moss made muddy wellies and dishevelled hair look good (for once).

Doherty, influenced Moss in other ways than music, he was an avid drug user and throughout the relationship is became apparent that Kate had developed a cocaine addiction (causing her career to suffer, as she was dropped from several campaigns as a result of her "bad image"). Doherty and Moss broke up (after a short engagement) in 2007.

After other relationships, Kate Moss finally settled down and married Jamie Hince earlier this year. The marriage took place in the Cotswolds and the bride wore a cream, bias-cut dress (with sheer skirt, gold leaf embroidery and rhinestones) designed by her friend and fashion designer John Galliano - in true supermodel style.

Kate Moss starring in the video of "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" by The White Stripes

A young Kate Moss, at a casting for L'Oreal

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Fashion Profile: Barbara Hulanicki

Barbara Hulanicki built her brand "Biba", named after her younger sister, from a mail order company. It soon grew into one of the most influential and popular clothing shops of the 60s & 70s.

Born: 1936
Famous for: Founding BIBA, so popular in the 60s and 70s that is has been relaunched in England.
Style Characteristics: Maxi dresses and bold, individual prints.

Early Life
Barbara Hulanicki was born in Warsaw, to Polish parents, however she was brought to England at a young age. 

Hulanicki studied at Brighton School of Art, and began an early career drawing illustrations for popular fashion magazines such as Vogue and Tatler.
   These illustrations were extremely ornate and led to her designing her own clothes, rather than drawing others'...

Mail Order
Although Barbara only had a few designs, she began to sell them in small quantities through adverts in newspapers such as The Daily Mirror

Hulanicki was surprised that the designs sold out so fast as she could only afford to produce them in one size and style. The first design she sold was a pink gingham dress, similar to one style icon, Brigitte Bardot, had worn around the same time. 

As popularity grew, Barbara Hulanicki felt pressure to create her own brand and line of clothing. This led to the launch of "Biba". 

The first shop was in Kensington, a fashionable part of London at the time it opened in September 1964. The shop opened at 10am and everything was sold out by 11, "no one asked if there were any other styles or sizes".

The shops' main target market was teenage girls as in the late 50s/early 60s, there weren't any specialist clothes for fashion conscious teenagers. Barbara observed this and created a revolutionary brand specifically to bring new styles of dress to an audience that was in need of a change.

Big Biba
After many changes in location, Biba had evolved into a brand. Hulanicki was now designing for everyone - menswear, children's clothes, maternity wear and make-up were now added to her collection. 

In 1974, Biba was housed in a seven-storey department store (attracting up to a million customers weekly). It became a tourist attraction as Barbara Hulanicki had created a shopping experience as well as a brand.

It soon became known as "Big Biba" and the Art Deco-interior was reminiscent of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Although Barbara was introducing new styles to fashion conscious Londoners, she was greatly influenced by the Twenties. The models and sales assistants wore dark make-up, not dissimilar to that worn by Josephine Baker or Louise Brooks.

"Big Biba" grew in popularity, and was favoured by the rock and fashion glitterati (such as Twiggy, Bianca and Mick Jagger).

Biba's Demise
Bib Biba was a huge responsibility financially and Barbara Hulanicki decided to sell her company off.

Barbara moved to Miami and carried out a career as an interior designer, a continuation of her combined love for Art Deco and illustration.

Biba is Back
Since its demise, Barbara has continued designing clothes, most notably for Topshop, and following such success has decided to relaunch Biba in England. 

The designs and styles that defined the 60s and 70s remain similar, as Barbara noticed the rise in popularity of vintage fashion. 


"There is very little difference today as opposed to the ‘70s, although, there is much more choice now. Both periods share the same enthusiasm, if you press the right buttons."

-Barbara Hulanicki