The famous and the fashionable wore Ossie Clark designs. Were you one of them?
Did you have an Ossie Clark outfit? Why did you buy it? What made it distinct? Do you have any special memories of wearing it? How do you feel now when you look back?
Share your memories and any scanned photographs you might have by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Paxos, Greece, 1970
This dress was like gossamer to wear. Light, floaty, and more or less transparent. It never occurred to me to wear much under it. I did not own a bra - far too uncomfortable and definitely out of fashion. So I suppose the dress must have been rather revealing. Fortunately, I was naive enough not to be concerned by the possible consequences. In retrospect this seems a bit daft. It was rarely warm enough to wear the dress in Britain- where it was acceptable to be provocative - so I wore it on holiday in continental Europe, at a time when the Church still had a strong and conservative influence on the population's views on dress and behaviour.
I first became aware of Ossie Clark when I was aged about 12. What inspiration there was at the time – Biba, Bill Gibb and the master Ossie Clark! Ossie’s designs were the ultimate in innovation, genius pattern cutting and fabulous prints by Celia Birtwell – I was fascinated and intrigued. More than anyone else he was the designer who inspired me to carry on and carve out a future in fashion & textiles, albeit as a swimwear designer! In eager anticipation of the forthcoming exhibition I dug out my boxes of archive cuttings and magazines and yes, I am still amazed by the genius of Ossie. To anyone thinking of a future in fashion, go along and prepare to be inspired!
It was my very first dinner/dance. I bought a black crepe and satin ankle length evening dress which at £20 represented a weeks salary. It fitted beautifully, with the deep front opening almost to the waist it clung with the weight of the crepe to a then youthful size 10 figure making it almost impossible to wear anything underneath. It was effortless and sensual to wear and lives on in my memory as the most beautiful dress I have ever worn. I still have the dress. It has travelled around the world with me though sadly never worn again as that youthful size 10 no longer exists.
I have a beautiful top in the hearts and flowers Celia Birtwell design, which I treasure. It reminds me of London in the 70's and the people I knew then. I don't wear it often but get pleasure from just looking at it from time to time.I bought it in a second hand shop in Earls Court, so it was quite a bargain!
I have many extremely fond and wonderful memories of Ossie Clark when he was a good friend and colleague at the Royal College of Art. Many of these memories are very personal, but some I would like to share with you. Ossie had a wonderful partner in Celia Birtwell who as well as being a very successful designer in her own right, complimented beautifully, and provided much recognition and support for this extraordinary gifted young man. We all lived in the same house near the Portobello Road whilst students at the R.C.A. and I can remember how Ossie insisted that we all learnt the latest dance before we went out partying, and also how he would make very last minute modifications to either Celia's or his clothes before an important occassion.
More esoterically, Ossie had an amazing spatial awareness. So much so that he could see a garment as a three dimensional form and transfer that to the real world by going straight into the fabric and making without having to cut a pattern first. Ossie was very special and I miss him now, and regret not being able to give him a hug before he departed. Within the context of current fashion trends and directions, Ossie was a Fine Artist who made things out of fabric.
Ossie Clark Sighting
In 1981, whilst at an exhibition of David Hockney drawings, I suddenly noticed a rather scruffy and unshaven man sweep in. Although he looked thin and worn, he had perched on his head the most fantastic Robin Hood-type creation, topped with an enormous feather. The word went round that this was Ossie Clark, at that time quite a fallen angel.
A few years later I found an Ossie Clark dress at a jumble sale - bright blue chiffon, low cut with huge flowing sleeves. It pains me to say that my teenage self promptly cut these off to make it more 'wearable'. Fool ! It now reposes in its mutilated state in my loft....
I bought my first Ossie dress in Miss Selfridge when I was just 15. it was a cream and lilac mini dress daringly low cut. I can still remember so vividly how feminine it made me feel. Everything was just perfect.
I was a huge Ossie fan and can remember many happy hours spent in the little area of Miss Selfridge reserved for the designer collections. My favourite piece was a black crepe trouser suit with satin lapels. I can remember the saleslady saying it was for a tall person and wouldn't suit me (I barely make 5'). I kept returning each day (I lived around the corner from Miss Selfridge) and finally I insisted on trying the suit. She couldn't have been more wrong - after turning up the hem of the trousers this was my staple evening wear for many years - it even managed to grow 2 sizes with me!
If I have one regret in life it's that I didn't keep my Ossie collection!
An Ossie Clark original
I am sixty five years of age and have an original fitted Ossie Clark jacket made in the same material as the dress shown in the Elle magazine's July issue.
A friend of mine owned it in the late sixties and I always was full of envy every time she wore it. One day she told me that her local Synagogue was holding a Charity Auction of Designer clothes and that she was going to donate the jacket because it was for a good cause so I asked if I could attend even though I was not of her faith. I was determined to acquire the jacket and was successful in my bid and I still think the jacket is so beautiful even though I have never worn it for many years but I just couldn't throw it away because I was sure that something so beautifully made by such a great Designer would one day be a sought after collecters piece.
I had a deep red Ossie Clark dress three quarter length with a tie belt and the front was almost slit to the waist. Size 8 I think. It was semi flared to just above the calf and I wore it with high platform boots.
I used to work for Adel Rootstein Mannequins just off the Kings Road in Chelsea from 1969 to 1990 and I bought it from Ossie Clark's shop Quorum in the Kings Road which was just around the corner.
I wore it for years.
Ossie and Celia
My husband Martin Roberts and I lived in Linden Gardens in the apartment @ 55 Linden Gardens in 1966 the year we married. Above us were a couple in love with the Beach Boys. Revolver by the Beatles had just been made. The newpaper "It" was the rag of revolution. It was a wonderful time of Mary Quant dresses and Biba! Below lived Ossie & Celia look @ Hockney's paintings of the couple in their apartment. Lovely.
Ossie Clark dress
In 1972 shortly after the birth of my second son. I bought a loose fitting shift dress made in crepe cut in tiers, with long sleeves and tie ribbons at the wrists. The label stated that the fabric design was by Celia Birtwell. The design consisted of a black background and had an all over small floral motif.
I wore the dress at my son's christening, my only regret is that no one bothered to take a photograph of me in the dress, which I later gave to a dress agency.
How I remember that dress and wish I'd kept it.
Ossie Clark for Radley
I was married in March 1975, We did not want a church wedding so my outfit for the Registry office was from Bus Stop, silver/grey top and skirt with grey platform shoes by Sacha. My going away outfit (to Paris) was a dress by Ossie Clark for Radley with the print by Celia Birtwell. A smock type dress with alternate bands of fabric with grey background and pattern of stars/moons/feathers and dark green background with same pattern.
I still have all these items, and can still get into the Ossie Clark dress which I love.
Black Wrap around crepe dress
My mum was Manfred Manns 1st wife Susan Thomas who died this year 3rd July. She passed on to me many years ago a black wrap around floor length crepe dress with no back and plunging neckline, it has huge puff sleeves and long buttoned wrists. I remember as a child seeing my mum on her way out to wild parties wearing this dress and looking fabulous. She loved this dress and talked about in her last weeks with us.
My Ossie Clark Outfit
One of my regrets is not keeping my Ossie Clark outfit which I wore for the evening reception of my wedding in 1972. It was a red moss crepe wrap blouse with red satin trim and wide-legged trousers to match. I felt a million dollars when I wore it! I received so many compliments regarding the outfit from my wedding guests. It's a shame that I don't even have a photograph of myself wearing it. I can remember buying it in a shop called 'Ossie's', which was situated in Wentworth Street (Petticoat Lane) East London.
Two years ago I saw a similar one, also in red, in a second-hand shop in the Portobello Road costing approximately £500.
I have an Ossie Clark dress that I purchased in the early 70's off Oxford St. It is backless with cross over straps that lace-up down to the waist. The front has a deep V. Neckline and the sleeve's are long and flare at the wrist. It is black and the design is feathers red yellow blue. I loved wearing it and have kept in good condition . I just wish I had the same figure today as I had then .
In 1975 I was very pregnant with my son Orlando, I was to go to Niki Samuels and Ken Lane's wedding in Chelsea.
So I went round to Ossie & Celia's shop. There I found that georgous black crepe silk gypsy dress with delicate patterns in bright colours by Celia, now labled by the date 1971 in a large size, it fitted us both perfectly.
Thanks Ossie and Celia. It felt fabulous wearing that dress the night before my son was born.
I still have a pink cotton printed shirt as light as a feather, just to look at and remember.
In 1970 I bought a full-length scarlet crepe dress by Ossie Clark at Snob in Southampton. A plunging ruffled neckine was created by the wraparound ties - the only thing holding the dress together. The rest of the dress was plain, with fabric so heavy it fell to the floor. Wearing it made me feel special - acres of cleavage, walking revealed one leg to the mid thigh (who needs miniskirts!), and with the fashionable platform shoes/boots of the time I reached 6'2" of dazzling noticable woman rather than the awkward teenager I then was.
I was with a male friend to whom I was incredibly attracted at the time I tried it on in the shop. When asked what he thought, the verdict "Just buy it, don't worry about the cost, just buy it!" After years of wear, the dress was finally given to a theatre company. I hope it is still having the 'Ossie' effect on viewers. Fond memories...
My Ossie Clark Memories
In 1970 I owned two Ossie Clark/Celia Birtwell items of clothing. The first was called 'Moon Turn The Tide', a beautiful pink and grey print, floaty, tiered sleeved, see-through blouse (no bra worn!). Cost £28, but I told my mother it cost £14. She said 'what a waste of money' and threw it across the floor!
Not to be deterred by this, I then bought a dress (Celia print again) in black, blue and pink print, with handkerchief pointed hem and tiny satin buttons, called 'Helter Skelter' cost £36. I wore both os these to death, so unfortunately no longer have them. I bought them from Abacus in Ipswich (thankyou Antigone!). Also, just to let you all know, I had several pieces of Alice Pollock from Abacus, and Quorum in London.
I so wish I had these clothes now, but hey ho!
I can't wait to see the exhibition.
I was married in an Ossie clarke mauve crepe dress bought from a basement
boutique in Oxford Street.
My boyfriend and I were invited to friends' wedding at Hampstead Registry office and reception at Jack Straws Castle in 1972. When we arrived, the bride was wearing an Ossie Clark dress of cream crepe with a Celia Birtwell design of dark green, cerise and black flowers. This was the first time I had been to a non-church wedding and was stunned to see the bride wearing such a beautiful dress - far more beautiful than the usual white meringue creation. I vowed then if I got married, this was the way I would do it. Sadly I never did manage to own one of Ossie's dresses but I used to go in Quorom on the King's Road and drool.
My partner managed the 'Scotch of St. James' one of the 'in' discothèques frequented by well known musicians and celebrities, owned by Louis Brown(Later owner of the Valbonne). We got married in 1969 and visited Ossie Clark's studio, and he made an adaptation of one of his designs especially for me. He made me feel special. The dress has a black bodice, and long sleeves; the skirt is in the favourite red poppy design. We got married at Caxton Hall (no longer a marriage venue) at 8.30 in the morning. Later we opened 'Bumpers Club' on the site of the Old Lyons Corner house in Leicester Square and I wore the dress again for the launch party. I still have the dress and wish I could still wear it; unfortunately I am no longer a size 8. My artist daughter wore it for the party celebrating her getting a degree.
Later, I think 1971, I saw a design for an Ossie Clark evening dress, which you could wear, long or short with enormous splits up the side, I think it was Pattie Boyd who was modeling - it was the most attractive dress I had ever seen. It was in back crepe with a green sequin top, sleeveless and sequins scattered over the flowing light skirt. It was a 'have to have' and I certainly enjoyed every time I wore it, which was often.
We were just so lucky at that time, to have Biba and Mary Quant. But, how a dress could give such pleasure, - I can honestly say only the two Ossie Clark's that I was lucky enough to own did this for me. They are still in my wardrobe and Ossie was very very special.
Memories of Ossie
As a child having an eccentric gay uncle was not the sort of thing you talked about to your friends with a sense of pride. But back then, I thought of Ossie as someone exciting, someone who really looked at things with a fresh new angle, and someone who you (even as a boy) could talk to about anything and it would be interesting.
He was always just my uncle who lived in London, on his own with little money. Though occasionally an odd friend, equally eccentric, would come round with champagne for a drink. I didn't think this strange, just a lifestyle difference of London from my own home living in the north-west. Memories of waking up in the morning at home going for breakfast, finding Ossie sat outside in his dressing-gown doing yoga, remain with me. This was not your average uncle.
His death in 1996 seriously effected me while I was university at the age of 19, as he was a major role-model for me as a child. But not as a fashion designer, I didn't even know he was a fashion designer, but as a person, as a thinker, as a vibrant life-living human who could think outside the box.
Of-course after the many family & friends meetings following his death, I soon realised his life was much more than just what I had experienced with him as a visiting uncle. It all falls into place now when I read about what he did as a fashion designer, and how he influenced global fashion to this day, I knew he was someone special.
Yet little of what he achieved was left when I knew him from the 1980's onwards. Like many great artists, it is only in his death, that we realise what he achieved in his life. Few people brought together fashion and music like Ossie's shows did, and yet this is the staple diet of the industry today. Only 5 years after his death, and slowly, have people started to realise this and take-note. For the rest of us who knew him, and were part of his life, we have always known. For me, it was not the money, the friends, or the fame, which made him stand-out to me, for he had non. It was merely the person.
Ossie Clark memories
I am delighted to have been the first NY editor to write about Ossie Clark, whose extraordinary designs I discovered at Quorum during the Swinging London heyday. I was at that time a fashion reporter for the New York Times and owned an extraordinary collection of Ossie's clothes, from a fabulous orange-marmalade snakeskin jacket to the fringed suede cowboy jacket shown on your home page to countless poet's shirts. One of my favorites: a skin-tight glove leather metal-studded biker's jacket with a pair of high-waisted sailor pants. Wore these everywhere, adding a phenomenal white crepe ruffled neck blouse that was the hit of NY.All of these pieces have gone to the Met Museum here in NY or, like the snake jacket, been damaged by time. Looking at your site made me so sorry I didn't keep them, but they deserve to be seen by future genertions.
Only today I tried to explain Ossie to an aspiring fashion designer. He's a hard talent to categorize or to describe but he was a blazing meteor on the fashion landscape..for all too brief a time. Wish here were here now!!
Ossie Clark and my 1974 Prom
My Ossie Clark dress was purchased in 1974 for my Junior Prom while I was living with my family in Maidenhead, in Berkshire. I was an American attending an American high school in High Wycombe. Prom is the biggest event of the year, and we were having ours at the Europa Hotel in London. At that time, the selection of floor-length dresses that a 16-year-old would want to wear to a formal dance was pretty limited. After a long day of shopping, my mother spotted the Ossie Clark dress in a small boutique in Knightsbridge, which we both thought absolutely beautiful with its clean flowing lines, full sleeves and solid-red moss crepe. The original price was 25.50 (Pounds). It was more money than we had planned to spend, but it was such a perfect dress that my mom was willing to buy it for me.
This is me with my Prom date, Tony. Not a great picture, but you can see how classic the dress is. My mother had to stitch up the neckline, as it plunged quite a bit lower (and I didn't have the figure to keep it in place). That stitching has long ago been removed without harm to the dress, and thanks to mom's foresight to keep it, it has been preserved in good condition. I also saved the hangtag that came with it, as I thought it was very sexy, and absolutely captured the retro feel (which I loved) of that time.
...Ossie at work
I was born in 1974 so unfortunately missed the era in which Ossie Clark & Celia Birtwell were big news but as a teenager studying Fine art & Textiles I came across their designs in books, magazines & second hand designer stores aswell as seeing that famous Hockney painting of them, which I loved! I was completely fascinated & inspired by the beautiful fusion between fashion designer and textile designer, something that appears so obvious and yet is actually quite rare.
Textile designers get precious little recognition in the fashion world, even now, but back in 80's when fashion was all about BIG label fashion designers; overdone glitz & cheap looking glamour, hearing & reading about them was such a refreshingly new viewpoint for me. I thought they made the perfect duo, the way Ossie used those fabrics seemed so artful ...romantic but modern - not too 'girly girly' ... more elegant & stylish- which I truly think is a difficult achievement when strong prints are involved! A year or so later while studying my Textile degree I spent a month or so working in the Bella Freud studio in St Charles Sq. Ladbroke Grove. It was a fascinating place to work, watch and learn, not least because of the people you might meet there. My memory of the time I met Ossie Clark stays with me not because I spoke to him a lot (I was far too shy) but because he had such a presence! ... I watched as he helped out with finishing details before Bella's fashion show (- an extremely stressful and chaotic time in a fashion design studio) He made alterations, gave advice & tips, supported Bella & himself with glasses of wine & other intoxicants, gossiped and guffawed and generally gave us all the benefit of his talent, knowledge & humour in his very own completely eccentric, completely absorbing, completely Ossie way! ...He WAS a tad scruffy ... & A BIT dog-eared- that much is true, but no less vital, no less inspiring- a very talented man indeed. The shock of his death made an impact on me even with such a fleeting knowledge of him, mainly because it was so much talent gone too soon.
Ossie Clark at Radley
I purchased a chocolate brown crepe jacquard print 'Ossie Clark at Radley' dress on a visit to London in the late 1970's and it was still in my possession up until a few years ago when I passed it on to a friend who always admired it (I thought she would look after it). She always referred to it as my 'formal dress'. However, to my dismay she gave it to a charity shop when she had a spring clean of her wardrobe. I was so upset. I do hope it went to someone who will appreciate it.
Ossie Clark Memories
I bought a pink crepe dress from Peasbody, a small exclusive boutique, in Manchester in 1975. I saw the dress in the window and just knew it would look sensational. It cost three weeks wages but was worth every penny. It was the most beautiful dress I had ever worn. Its proportions of yoke to bodice and sleeve and the top in relation to the bottom were just perfect. It swirled and fell into the most amazing fluid folds just touching the figure. It made me feel fantastic. Details such as the tiny covered buttons were for me the hall mark of Ossie Clark. The first time I wore it was on a date with the guy who in 1978 became my husband. I still have the dress and will always treasure it and the memories it holds for me. Ossie Clark was a special person who understood what women like to wear. Truely a man of his time.
I had an older friend who had some amazing Ossie Clark and Alice Pollock clothes. She sold me her Alice Pollock blouse to pay her rent. I loved it and saved my pocket money to buy two Ossie Clark blouses from Quorum. I have just found one of them and the Alice Pollock blouse.
Ossie Clark Dress
I bought an Ossie Clarke for Radley chocolate brown long dress in 1974. It is in heavy crepe, buttoned to the waist, with long sleeves, deep buttoned cuff and a tie belt. I wore it to a Ball for the London Hospital nurses at the Hilton Hotel.It cost £25, a fortune for a student nurse, but I felt so glamorous wearing it. I still have it, unfortunately it no longer fits.
My Ossie frock fits my daughter now!
I bought it in 1969 as my first long dress as I was off to college and thought I should have a 'posh frock'. It's black crepe three quarter length, with tie belt just below bust and pearl buttons at the rear with short sleeves high neck and lace around neck and sleeves.I remember wearing it to my first dance and how proud I felt. It was awkward to do those buttons up but it looked great.
It's still in my wardrobe and when my 17 year old daughter asked for something long and black for her A level drama piece at school I discovered Ossie's frock again. She tried it on and it fits her perfectly but is full length as she's only 4'11". She's also a perfect size 8 which reminds me how small I was when I was 19! Oh well. So it's a family heirloom for her along with my early Biba outfits. She won't be wearing it for the school play as it's not ordinary and much too special!
My mum used to work as a pattern cutter for Ossie Clark. She died twelve years ago and though I have asked members of my family if they know anything about that time in her life, no-one seems to recall anything more than the fact that she worked for him. When the exhibition opened at the V&A I thought it may hold some clues but I am yet to discover something of significance...
I still have an Ossy Clark evening dress. Unfortunately no photo. The dress is black crepe, square backless. The sleeves are long, the top of each arm is bare with black frills trimmed in red around the opening,so the shoulders are bare, the neck has black frills trimmed with the red and is tied at the back with the red trimming . I only wore this dress twice, but have always kept it because I think it is quite beautiful. And unique.
My Ossie Clark Wedding Dress
I married in October 1973 after a six week whirlwind romance. I had nothing to wear and a friend suggested that Ossie Clark might do him a favour and make me a dress. He did. It is an adaptation of a forties style dress full length with tiers of silk chiffon falling from a high slit neckline. I felt like a princess on the day.
After the wedding, I returned the dress to Ossie and he painstakingly removed the white satin appliqués replacing them is brightly coloured Celia Birtwell print ones which are scattered across the dress. I have worn it several times over the years and still feel like a princess.
Like many an eager Dolly Bird in London, it was Ossie Clarke at Radley that enabled me to possess one of his spectacular outfits.
In the hey-days of the mini-skirt, my Ossie Clarke outfit was a two piece: black below-the-knee crepe skirt and form-fitting, partly deco/partly jagged patterned (red, green black and white) top. It was so form fitting that one did not need a bra - and, in fact the neckline was too low for one any way. For a party, a disco or a dinner party, I felt glamorous and seductive. To walk into a room in one of these dresses was a gauntlet thrown down to any other girl in the place. It was exhilarating. The outfit was wonderful and I lost count of the times I wore it. Fashions changed and I packed away that wonderful top, but wore the crepe skirt until it fall apart.
What was the magic? How did Ossie Clarke and Celia Birtwell manage to put so much more than cloth into their clothing?
Ossie Clark for Radley
I bought an Ossie Clark for Radley dress in 1974. I was married in church but didn't want the traditional wedding dress so this was perfect. Cream heavy moss crepe with a black and red design. I wore it on a couple of occasions afterwards and had to take the hem up as it was such a heavy crepe, it had dropped by half an inch.
I still have the dress and look at it often, I don't intend to get rid of it but I may pass it on to my niece as I have sons who would have no interest in keeping it !
I bought my Ossie Clark for Radley evening dress to wear to my husband's annual "do" mid 1970's. I felt really good in it because it fitted so well and the material flowed beautifully. It's a moss crepe, dark green colour with dark red flowers and is a halter-neck with a little collar. I loved that touch and I think that's why I bought it. It was so different. I still have the dress and I wish I could still fit into it as I would love to wear it again. I only wore it 2/3 times. I would love my daughter to bring it to life again but unfortunately it doesn't fit her.
Ossie was my dad's youngest brother, and Uncle Ossie was this extraordinery and flamboyant character who from time to time visited my Gran's in Warrington. Even within my childhood memories the vast contrast in him and the rest of his Warrington based family was stark, with their solid old Lancashire standards, and his flamboyant lifestyle. Yet when he arrived no special airs and graces manifested themselves, it was just a good old fashion family get together. He had, on occassion, gave to me samples of his work, including some paper dresses, how I wish I had looked after them.
OSSIE CLARK DRESS
When I was 20 (which is 30 years ago), I bought an Ossie Clark black crepe evening dress for a local beauty contest which I hasten to add, I didn't win! I'm sure it was absolutely nothing to do with the dress. I actually still have the dress, it's down to the floor, with long baggy sleeves but pulled in at the wrists with cuffs, it has shoulder pads and a wide open plunging collar with little buttons all down the front past the navel. It's fitted with a tie belt, it still is a lovely dress today and if I could get into it I would still wear it for special occasions. However, I need to lose a stone in weight before I could wear it.
I bought the dress from a shop called Regalia from the then Manager who became my best friend and still is today, so Ossie Clark did do a good job in making me feel like a Hollywood film star for a short while and giving me my friend, Julie.
Memories of Ossie
I am attaching a photo of my wedding day wearing my Ossie dress. I worked for Ossie from 67/70. First in Radnor walk and later in Burnsal Street.Those days were among the most exciting and happiest of my life. Every day was an adventure, meeting so many famous people who were Ossie's clients and just the atmosphere of the showroom with models wafting in and out from the English Boy Model Agency was heady to say the least.
Both Ossie and Alice were fantastic characters, larger than life, who made London the centre of the universe as far as fashion was concerned. He was a genius, a master craftsman, who could cut a dress sometimes even without a pattern. I feel utterly privileged to have worked for him .
The photo was taken on 7th April, 1973, at Caxton Hall in London, 32 years later I am still married to the same man-just!!!
I was lucky enough to find an Ossie Clark dress on sale in a shop in Oxford Street, I think. It was in a huge pile on the floor with other clothes and cost $2.50! All it needed was a dry-clean. The year was 1975 and I wore it for my 18th birthday. A few of us ended up in the Fountain in Trafalgar Square (it was New Years Eve) so it got a bit wet. It was long, blue, moss crepe and had a halter neck with tiny buttons all down the front. It was the most beautiful dress ever, and I still lament the fact that I don't know what happened to it.