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Celia Birtwell

Detail of dress 1971 Detail of Blue Lily sketch Detail of Peachy Pie sketch Detail of sketch 1969

Ossie Clark's flattering silhouettes combined with Celia Birtwell's romantic textiles produced some of the most memorable garments of the period. Clark and Birtwell met as students in Manchester in 1959. They moved to London independently, reconnected and a close friendship developed. They married in 1969. Their creative collaboration began with their 1966 collection for the boutique Quorum.

Birtwell's textiles featured a vibrant range of patterns inspired by the natural world. Her design process began with a series of sketches, like those shown here. She then produced a number of fabrics for Clark to choose from.

Birtwell's textile sketch - 'Peachy-Pie' print

Sketch 1969

Birtwell's textile sketch for her 'Peachy-Pie' print suggests it was originally intended for a revealing garment. The handwritten note indicates that Birtwell also considered this design for flannel.

Lent by Celia Birtwell
Sketch reproduced with kind permission of Celia Birtwell

Dress featuring Birtwell's print - hearts with feathers and poppies

Dress 1971

This print, a popular Birtwell design, mingles hearts with feathers and poppies. Here the motifs appear in vibrant red and green on a cream ground, but other colour combinations were also available. A fanciful yoke of appliquéd feathers accents the collar.

Printed chiffon
Print by Celia Birtwell
Given by Ms Judy Bennett
Museum no. T.194-1997

Dress featuring several Birtwell prints

Dress 1970

Ossie Clark often mixed several Celia Birtwell prints in one garment. This dress uses three. There is a small star pattern for the sleeves, a larger star for the skirt and a flower design for the bodice ruffles and back panel. Vogue featured this design in its July 1970 issue.

Photograph courtesy of Norman Parkinson Ltd, Fiona Cowan

Dress featuring abstracted tulip print

Dress 1971

The bold pattern and colours of this abstracted tulip print contrast with the delicacy of the sheer chiffon. The photograph, from the September 1971 issue of Vogue, shows London 'It' girl Nicky Samuel wearing the dress.

Photograph courtesy of Norman Parkinson Ltd, Fiona Cowan

Birtwell sketch featuring black and red floor length dress

Sketch 1969

Birtwell's sketch of black and red floor length dress.

Lent by Celia Birtwell
Sketch reproduced with kind permission of Celia Birtwell

Birtwell's famous 'Blue Lilly' pattern

Sketch

Birtwell's sketch of the famous 'Blue Lily' pattern used for chiffons and other textiles, as well as this plush velvet. This sketch notes that she also intended it for gaberdine.

Lent by Celia Birtwell
Sketch reproduced with kind permission of Celia Birtwell

suit with front slit skirt

Suit 1970

This photograph shows the front slit of the skirt extending to the top of the thigh. The material for the suit uses the 'Blue Lily' pattern as featured in the image above.

Photograph courtesy of British Vogue
Photographer Clive Arrowsmith