August 11, 2017, by Leigh Rudd.
In London it was the beginning of a global demographic power shift from post-war austerity to freedom. The youth of England were creating million dollar Fashion Trends from the street up that reverberated around the world. This was no accident. It signaled a cultural change that would involve fashion, music and art. And it involved everything.
And the liberation affected our entire culture of music, fashion and the arts. The “YOUTH QUAKE” of London was underway. It was the People’s Fashion – street fashion recognized by designers Mary Quant, Foale and Tuffin and John Bates.
In America in the summer of 1963 we had not yet bombed Vietnam, Dylan had just released his first album. It was the high season of folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary. The best-selling book that summer was Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique – new because it spoke to middle class suburban American housewives – the “ordinary, regular woman”. Andy Warhol was in the June 1963 issue of Harper’s Bazaar… as a New Face… Defining the Decade…” It was that year that Andy Warhol discovered “Baby Jane” Holzer. Diana Vreeland, Editor at Harper’s Bazaar also claimed to have discovered Jane Holzer – so I don’t re ally know who it was.
But Jane Holzer was a product of the time and very hip with a huge mane of blond hair. She recognized that the Rolling Stones playing at the night spot Ad Lib in London was as important as the Beatles. She also recognized that the clothes from Foale & Tuffin in their tiny showroom on Carnaby Street was a huge trend. In August, 1963 she said that, “This stuff swings… it’s much better than New York.” This was around the time she met Andy Warhol. And it was this summer when the fashion world dubbed her “Baby Jane”.
Years later when I was working for Andre Courreges Jane Holzer came to the design studio to see Courreges’ newest designs, not yet seen by the media. Monsieur Courreges was very interested in her opinion but he didn’t speak English – and so I spoke to her in English and translated to him in French. Just as an aside Monsieur Courreges was a soft-spoken, gentle artist. I liked him very much and was privileged to have worked directly with him in Paris.
David Bailey, English fashion designer photographed Jane Holzer for British Vogue. In fact, he also “created” Jean Shrimpton, the English model that summer. So it was all starting to come together in London. Then too Mary Quant had opened her boutique Bazaar originally in the Markham Arms Pub with a disco in the basement.
If Mrs. Vreeland discovered you… you were “in”. I remember when I was an assistant to Bonnie Cashin and had to take one of Bonnie’s ponchos to Mrs. Vreeland. Her reputation, of course, preceded her and when I entered the room all I remember was a startling woman who may not have been beautiful by the traditional standards – but she was captivating. I walked into her office and she was sitting on her red tapestry sofa with arms outstretched, “Darling are these Bonnie’s ponchos?” My feet felt glued to the ground. I was a skinny kid, shaking in my boots. Mrs. Vreeland was bigger than life, an amazing character who was not afraid to be who she is. I don’t think there has been anyone since Mrs. Vreeland who has been such a legendary matriarch in fashion.
1965 “SWINGING 60’S” EXPLODED OUT OF LONDON
It was fashion from the streets of London which became a tsunami that swept throughout the world. To many it became known as the “British Invasion”. And the sixteen year-old model Twiggy was for many the face of the 60’s Revolution.
WATCH: Twiggy – The Face of The 60s – YouTube Uploaded by Cesare Vesdani.
The “PILL” was a ripple that set off sexual liberation. It changed the way women saw their bodies, themselves and their relationship to men. Of course in 1965, you had to be married to get a prescription but women found their way around that.
And it was in December, 1965 that Dr. Zhivago was released in New York City. And catapulted Julie Christie (1941- ) to super-stardom. We had already fallen in love with her in 1963 when she starred in Billy Liar directed by Jack Clayton. Fashion was influenced by the film’s military tailoring. The epic tale of love in the Russian revolution gave us aristocratic wardrobes which soon gave way to military uniforms.
The beautiful Julie Christie wore a maxi coat in the film, and John Fairchild, Publisher of Women’s Wear Daily waged a personal crusade to drop hemlines. It might have been premature since the mini was just exploding in London and not New York. In 1967 Time magazine observed, “What Julie Christie wears has more impact on fashion than all of clothes of the ten best-dressed women combined.”
Years later the director Jack Clayton’s assistant Jeannie Sims moved downstairs at my house in Chelsea, London. They were in London for the development of the 1974 Great Gatsby. This was at One Smith Terrace just off the King’s Road.
OP ART was a fashion craze in the summer of 1965 on Carnaby Street and the King’s Road, London. Inspiration was Bridget Riley, English painter and a foremost leader as an Op Artist.
Foale & Tuffin – influence of Op Art
Around that time I was traveling around Europe and Morocco with a fashion designer friend. However, I had a ruptured appendix while in Madrid and had to spend a great deal of time in hospital. I recovered on the Via Veneto in Rome watching the people go by. I was born in London and often went back and forth between London and New York. That’s what I did whenever I was restless. And I was frequently restless. As I write this I feel as if I sound like a spoiled brat. Actually I have complex PTSD from a childhood trauma which used to make me impulsive. I’ve worked on it for years and years – and am now comfortable with the symptoms of PTSD which have lessened with various forms of work.
1966 – LIVING IN PARIS AS A RESTLESS STUDENT
Well, it was the summer of 1966 and I had decided to live in Paris to escape into the je ne sais quoi of the city. I found a room there – a sort of permanent hotel room with no shower or bathroom. It was in the student section of Paris on Rue Monge, the Latin Quarter of Paris. It was raw, real and I loved it. I began to specialize in how to eat in Paris with no money. The trick was couscous, a Berber dish of crushed semolina which was inexpensive and filling. I met an American girl, Sue Tinney, and we both had intern jobs in fashion. I can’t remember where she was working but I worked for the French Couturier Andre Courreges.
1966 Designs by French Couturier Andre Courreges
Sue later became the stepmother of Darryl Hannah. One day Sue left Paris to run with the bulls in Pamplona. I was supposed to go but couldn’t afford it. Also it sounded as scary as Hell. Around this time I was dating one of the Hermes brothers. Guerrand Hermes. He was very nice and invited me to various French balls but I couldn’t afford to keep up the lifestyle on my couscous budget.
Then I lived in a tiny flat with a friend Philippe with a teeny-tiny bath tub next to the kitchen sink. Philippe was a sort of boyfriend with a week-end house in Sardinia and a family plane. So it was fun while it lasted and breathtaking flying in on Sunday nights over the lights of Paris. But alas… he came from a well-known textile family in Lyons. And his family had insisted on an arranged marriage with another well-known family from Lyon. So we parted ways, along with the week-ends in Sardinia.
CREATIVE ADVANTAGES OF PTSD
I decided to mention my PTSD which has always been an awful nuisance to put it mildly. My character Jordan Parker in the TV series Fashion Sharks has PTSD and struggles with the symptoms as she rises in the fashion world I don’t take it lightly because PTSD can be debilitating. But my experience is that, because of the post traumatic syndrome I have had since childhood I tend to go into my own creative world – always have. So, of course, that helped me in my fashion creativity. It is not a necessary component however.
TO BE CONTINUED…