Skip to main content

Ossie Clark for Radley

Detail of dress 1970 Detail of dress and coat 1970 Detail of costing sheet Detail of photograph of shirt dress

By the late 1960s, despite its glittering clientele, Quorum was burdened by debt. In 1968 Alice Pollock and Ossie Clark approached clothing manufacturer Alfred Radley, who agreed to purchase the business.

While continuing to produce his own exclusive label, Clark also designed a line called 'Ossie Clark for Radley'. The garments were made in larger quantities at lower prices. In developing this range, Clark would often start with a prototype or pattern. Radley designers such as Rosemary Bradford - like Clark, also a Royal College of Art graduate - would then translate his concept into a series of stylish variations. 'Ossie Clark for Radley' was one of the first 'diffusion' lines. Its affordable prices combined with worldwide distribution made Clark's designs accessible to a much broader market.

Dress from 1970 featuring simple flattering lines

Dress 1970

Its simple, flattering lines make this a classic Ossie Clark design. The flowing silhouette, waist tie and deep décolletage suited a variety of figures and sizes. Radley produced the dress in printed fabrics as well as a range of coloured crêpes. It became a top seller.

Moss crêpe
Ossie Clark for Radley
Given by Mrs Valerie Mendes
Museum no. T.138-1995

Dress 1970

This classic silhouette was an 'Ossie Clark for Radley' staple. The mass-market label soon attracted the attention of the high establishment and Vogue began to showcase its designs. The summer shirtdress in the this photograph was featured in the May 1970 issue, in an article entitled 'More Fashion than Money'.

Photograph courtesy of Norman Parkinson Ltd, Fiona Cowan

Dress and Coat featuring 'floating daisy' print

Dress and coat 1970

This ensemble would have cost around £140. It uses Celia Birtwell's best-selling print,'Floating Daisy', along with a larger floral. The bold graphic quality of the 'Floating Daisy' design made it easily adaptable to the Radley range. A Radley design using a similar print would have cost £20.

Printed crêpe and chiffon
Given by Miss Pauline Vogelpoel
Museum no. T.148&1-1983

Sketch for 'Floating Daisy' print

The accompanying line drawing is Birtwell's original sketch for the print featured in the ensemble above.

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

costing sheet example 1

Costing Sheets 1973-1974

These costing sheets provide a valuable record of the complexities of bringing a garment from the design stage to finished product. The sheet for the trouser suit, for example, indicates at the top that both Ossie Clark (O/C) and Radley (Rad) received royalties on the design.

The textile company Courtaulds supplied the rayon moss crêpe fabric. The cost of the fabric (£3.91) was just over half the cost of constructing the garments (£6.91). UK retailers purchased the suit wholesale for £13.20 and priced it at approximately £30 for their customers.

Lent by Alfred Radley

costing sheet example 2

Costing Sheets 1973-1974

Lent by Alfred Radley