FASHION PROFILE: OSSIE CLARK
Ossie Clark was a fashion designer most famous for his fashion designs in the swinging 60s. He predominantly focused on womenswear, however, designed some pieces for Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones.
Born: 9th June 1942
Famous for: Influential English fashion designer - often likened to Biba and Mary Quant.
Style Characteristics: Drapery, bold prints, Romanticism.
Ossie Clark was an extremely influential fashion designer during the 1960s. It became apparent that he had a keen interest in fashion when he was a child as he often made clothes for his nieces and nephews, practised tailoring techniques on dolls and designed swimsuits for his neighbours - all before his tenth birthday. Raymond 'Ossie' Clark's secondary school recognised his passionate flair and fed his creativity by introducing him to magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.
Although Ossie did not study fashion until university, he recalled his time studying architecture at school as 'invaluable' as it taught him about structure and form - all skills which he would later use as a fashion designer.
Ossie graduated successfully from art school in 1965 and had his first feature in Vogue within the same year. At the time, Clark's designs were heavily influenced by Pop Art and Hollywood Glamour which was fast becoming a modern concept in music, film and art. Ossie's designs were so innovative that he caused a stir in the fashion world.
The Golden Years: 1965-1974
During the mid 60s, Ossie became more well known within the fashion world, there was a great demand for his designs and he became known as the "King of the King's Road". It was during this time that Clark developed his flamboyant and romantic style which was later to be paired with his future wife, Celia Birtwell's textile designs.
Ossie was extremely popular, not only in London, he had also conquered New York and Paris. His popularity grew through dressing the rich and famous and adopted clients such as Marianne Faithfull, the Beatles, and most famously Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. These bold stage costumes were often dissimilar to his romantic, floaty commercial designs as the jumpsuits he designed for Jagger were tight fitting and hardly decorated.
Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark met in Manchester in 1959, they married ten years later after their creative collaboration for the boutique Quorum. Birtwell's textiles featured vibrant patterns which were inspired by the natural world, much like the Art Nouveau movement earlier in the century. Celia produced the textiles and designed her own fabrics while Clark designed the structure of the garment. This collaboration worked well as the outcome was highly refined (Celia's skills lay in textiles whereas Clark was more interested in structure).
Although Ossie was still designing in the 1980s his popularity had diminished due to the fact that the King's Road had been dominated by Vivienne Westwood and her punk designs. Clarks romantic gowns were no longer desirable and so he soon became bankrupt as the fashion movements changed.
Ossie Clark was married and had expressed his wishes for a large family, however, there were accounts of him having homosexual relationships.
In 1996, 54 year old Ossie Clark was stabbed to death in his flat in Chelsea, London by a former lover, Diego Cogolato. Cogolato was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for a mere six years. Ossie Clark, another one of the greats who died prematurely.
In 2007, the name Quorum was purchased by Marc Worth and the label "Ossie Clark" was relaunched.
Since his death, many fashion designers (such as John Galliano, Christian Lacroix, Dries Van Noten and Prada), have noted Ossie Clark as being highly influential.
To this day, original Ossie Clark pieces are extremely sought after.