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Early Years

Detail of Ascher textile Detail of Dress 1966 Detail of Fashion sketch 1962 Detail of photograph of Ossie Clark and Mo McDermott

Ossie Clark was born Raymond Clark in Liverpool on 9 June 1942. During the war he was evacuated to Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire, hence his nickname 'Ossie'. With guidance from his mother, Ossie was making clothes by the age of ten. At school his art teacher encouraged his drawing skills. These helped Clark to gain a place at the Regional College of Art in Manchester in 1958. There he attracted a group of bright, talented friends, including his future wife Celia Birtwell and the artist David Hockney.

In 1962 Ossie Clark won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London. He graduated in 1965 with a first-class degree - the only one awarded that year - and three months later his graduation collection appeared in British Vogue. Simultaneously, Clark began designing for Alice Pollock's shop Quorum, which featured the work of many talented young designers.

Clark's blue and yellow mini dress - 1966 Quorum collection

Dress 1966

Ossie Clark's graduation collection featured in the August 1965 issue of Vogue. This important exposure coincided with his first designs for Alice Pollock's Chelsea boutique Quorum. The blue and yellow minidress pictured is from this first Quorum collection.

Ossie Clark for Quorum
Lent by Celia Birtwell

Clark's 1962 sketch for two blouse designs

Fashion sketch 1962

This sketch for two blouse designs is one of 25 that won Clark a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. It demonstrates his delight in details such as the hip tie and bib-shaped ruffle. The trim silhouettes show his ability to accentuate the female form.

Sketch reproduced with kind permission of Celia Birtwell

Paper textile created by Ceilia Birtwell

Textile 1966

Ascher Textiles produced luxury fabrics for the fashion industry. They commissioned designs from leading international artists, such as Lucian Freud and Henri Matisse. For this paper textile Celia Birtwell created a simple pattern of organic forms.

Printed paper
Celia Birtwell for Ascher
Given by Zika Ascher
Museum no. T.230-1988

Clark photographed with Mo McDermott

Photograph 1961

Ossie Clark at a part at the Manchester Regional College of Art. Clark is with his friend, the artist Mo McDermott who is wearing one of his designs.

Lent be Celia Birtwell