Sunday, 25 November 2012

1963/1966 Young Jaeger/Kings Road and Radio Caroline 1964

1964...January cont of Kiki Byrne etc... 
Being in the right place at the right time , is of course a matter of luck ....Time is of the essence . I had already left Kiki Byrne  when Geoffrey Gilbert, the managing director of Jaeger  saw my sketches on the pin board at Kiki Byrne. I had forgotten to take them down . He asked Betty Boyd who's they were .  How loyal of her to say they were mine. However it was not too cool of me to immediately phone Kiki and tell her that I had got the job. I was met with a cool reception and I  realised that I had put my foot in it . I was just excited. I wanted applause. I was young! Would I do that now.....probably my friends would retort .
Lady Rendlesham
The first day at Jaeger design offices  Chenies Street 
  Geoffrey, the Jaeger MD pointed vaguely at Bob's  old office which had been cleared . "Just put yourself there for the moment Lee. Hopefully there will be no  opposition. You can't please everyone."  
 I opened the door to find a hysterical woman sat on the desk  screaming down the telephone.
"Get out , how dare you come in here . This is Bob Schulz's office .Can't you see I'm on the telephone . "she screamed at me slamming the door in my face with her foot . I recognised her straight away. It was Lady  Clare   Rendlesham,  the nightmare of fashion journalism.  I first met her at Kiki's  and her  presence was noted with fear . Subliminally she carried her title like a neon light flashing , burning arrogantly  through cold, icy  eyes.  Face to face she did not object to Clare Rendlesham as long as you  were aware of course ...!  The last person I wanted to upset was a journalist  especially Clare. She was a good fashion journalist but her time was  on the wane. Younger people were appearing on the scene Grace Coddington , Marit Allen, Caterine Milinaire  under the watch full eye of Beatrix Miller and of course eventually the outrageous  Molly Parkin, who were both approachable and in touch with the 60's phenomena which was definitely brewing up .  I hovered in the corridor  whilst  Clare Rendlesham  wailed at her publisher .  It could have been either Vogue or Queen, I no longer remember in fact on reflection it could have been that very  day that she left Vogue for Queen .

Garce Coddington  and Vidal Sasoon
the smiling face of Marit Allen 1941/ 2007
Caterine Milinaire
She promoted the  St Laurent shop in London supported by the outlandish Percy Savage, an Australian  who put the p into publicity for many designers in England and Paris. For many years he was the PR for Lanvin and Nina Ricci . He actually introduced the young , shy Yves St laurent to Dior in the fifties I remember those amazing bomber jackets in his first collection when I was at art school in the late fifties.  Percy was a great friend of Christian Dior. The story goes that Dior was at a loss what to call his latest perfume when  Percy Savage entered the room . "OH! Savage  you are late ." he exclaimed ." I've got it I've got it ! "professor Higgins style, he shouted excitedly . Eau Sauvage that's what we will call it ."So that is how the perfume was named . I am not convinced more likely it was a story made up by Percy himself , it is a typical Percy Savage ruse ...but it worked of course .and Eau Sauvage is still one of the hottest selling  perfumes .   Apparently whilst travelling for Dior   Percy  was presented with a pair of cheetahs by the emperor of Ethiopia which he used to walk in the bois de Bologne. Again is this one of Percy's stories ..who knows? I like to believe that it is true . In the fashion business , he past my way many times both in Paris and could not miss him the black fedora hat and impressive height . Often there would be a young protegee in his wake .   In 1970,s he was declared bankrupt. Like many creative thinkers he lacked the ability to hold back when times were bad. Sadly this is very common in the rag trade or indeed in any creative trade ... I should know .   He died penniless of a muscular degenerative decease in 2008. It's a fickle world... time passes with fashion.... but beware.............  fashion passes  in time. The same can be applied to love .Time passes with love but love passes in time

Percy Savage1926/2008
  Apparently even  customers were terrified to enter the London Yves   St Laurent  shop  if  Clare Rendlesham was in residence . Her biggest fault   was being  an active dilettante, a common mistake with both buyers and  journalists. They actually believe that they have designed the garments they have photographed,they own the rights and therefore expect the applause for themselves . They also frequently have tunnel vision and cannot see further than their latest discovery, arrogantly guarding their "pets" like pit balls. 
Grace Coddington  ,Marit Allen, Caterine Milenair  were a different breed, young, not set in their ways and willing to go to the end of the earth for a story no matter what the back ground.  They eventually   reached the highest accolades of the fashion business.Grace went on to become the fashion director of American Vogue, Caterine Milenaire  became an author, and Marit Allen  became a famous costume designer in films like , Eyes Wide Shut , White Mischief , Little Shop Of Horrors to name a few. Marit Allen  died of a brain Aneurysm whilst filming in Australia. I will always remember  her,forever smiling, her long red hair gliding down her back whilst Keith of Smile ( the cult hairdresser who took on quite a punkish style a contrast to Vidal Sassoon,s geometric perfection   )snipped away at his hairdressing studio in Knightsbridge. He was the hairdresser who was the first to popularise  crazy colour hair ,cerise , blue  emerald green etc .We all went there if we wanted to have an extreme hair  colour and go a bit wild . I had a cerise hair in the 8o,s. 

Some one was shouting "Lee ! Lee!" I ignored them .
"Oh My God! that's my name I suddenly realised. Mr Geoffrey had renamed me as he hated the name of La Verne .   It was Mr. Geoffrey .  He beckoned me to come to his office . "Have you settled in Lee. "
"Well not exactly , Clare Rendlesham is on the phone in my office, with that don't disturb look and sorry  I haven't got used to the name Lee yet."
He burst out laughing. " You will! Bloody frightening isn't she . Bob had her eating out of his hand mind you. How do queers attract a bevy of women. It always leaves me mystified."
 I hated that word even then but that was the terminology of the time . Gay was still a word used for happiness or a female name until it was adopted by the homosexual society  . I have to say it was extremely clever of them ,in fact brilliant a  clever PR.but a sad loss of an exuberant adjective .
" She's furious Bob's left of course,adored him . David's delighted ! He's the Old  Jaeger designer , they hated each other."he said.
I remembered the words of warning from Bob. It all began to make sense.The last thing I wanted was an enemy in the camp . I had to play it cool if I wanted to survive Jaeger , politics had to be avoided at all cost. It was  both damaging and dangerous.I had no intention of being part of it.I was determined to remain on neutral territory or so I believed. Easier said than done.
" Now I want you to come to Scotland with me this evening. We have to visit a knitwear factory . Go home pack your bags and come back here this afternoon .  We will leave tonight  for Glasgow. Susan will book our flight and hotel .  "
 I managed to hide the fact that I had never flown in in my life .
. I could still hear Clare raging on the telephone as I left Chenies Street  for Chelsea. I had walked into a mad house yet again and I knew that I had to tread very carefully if I wanted to survive.

I made a serious mistake on the flight  to Glasgow. I can even feel the embarrassment now.  It's a wonder he did not sack me on the spot. Out of the blue I heard myself say , "What did you do during the war Geoffrey?" I was probably nervous, not quite knowing what to say  and lacking in sophistication.
His body visibly flinched.He  turned his head very slowly towards me,his eyes a steely black  " I was a child Lee, probably drove my mother mad .   I'm only ten years older than you or there abouts . Far too young for the war. "He replied icily.
I could have died on the spot . It wasn't a great beginning !Talk about crushing the poor man's ego .

 Arriving at the hotel , just outside Glasgow , I saw a reflection of myself in the foyer mirror,  a bedraggled mess , my hair looked as though it had not been washed and was hanging limply around my face.   "Fortunately" I  found a small tin of talcum powder in the hotel  bathroom . I had heard on the grapevine that models often used it for an emergency dry shampoo. The following morning I sprinkled the talcum powder on my hair and brushed it in . It seemed to work.
Horror of horrors it was MR. Geoffrey who mentioned in Soto terms . "Got a problem Lee? On your black sweater....bad attack of dandruff. You'll have to get rid of that ." He  tried  brushing my shoulders  with his hand rather disdainfully . IT did not help that I was wearing a black cashmere sweater.
"OH My God its...   its... its talcum powder." I stuttered .
"A novel place to put Talcum powder lee." It was quite obvious that he did not believe me.
" I used a dry shampoo this morning."
He raised his eyebrows and swivelled his eyes  in disbelief .

I had not got a clue about knitwear and it was the first time that I had been to a knitwear factory . I have a feeling Geoffrey just wanted me out of the way whilst things settled down about Bob's departure  from Jaeger.  They were probably arguing about "The office " who should have it .  Absurd isn't it.
"Right Lee , a knit wear design for Young Jaeger please, just one sweater ." I  took a deep breath . I remembered the girls in Paris were wearing skinny , skinny sweaters, rather like tea shirts. The look had not arrived in England . Until that moment Jaeger was designing classic sweaters. I drew the sweater for  Geoffrey, a skinny ribbed sweater  with skinny long sleeves and one with  short sleeves. Leaving the female form nothing to the imagination, it fitted like a corset  . I knew that it would look great with my adrogynous look that I had in mind for the trouser suits .  It would be a good contrast male /feminine.
" A tit knit! " he exclaimed slightly worried ." Perhaps  not ..."
I burst out laughing .
He paced around the floor in circles " I know lets call it an It Knit .  That's what they called those amazing stars in the 40's IT GIRLS .We will get Vernon onto it  straight away .He's our  Advertising man . They will have one made up for us by tonight, it doesn't matter about the colour . But you must authorise the fit . 
Now Geoffrey was not the brightest of men , however I  have to admit that it was a good name in 1964 and it was the first thing I designed for Jaeger in the space of five minutes. He could be a bumbling fool at times but he did have his moments. He was always supportive of  Young Jaeger  and the it Knit was a success helped by the write up in the Evening Standard by Barbara Griggs. It walked out of the shops.
Arriving back in Chenies Street , there was still the question of my office.
 In the two years that I worked  for  Jaeger, I was never officially given an office.  In other words I squatted in Bob Schulz's old office. In time every one took it for granted that it was mine. I stole Amanda Greatorex from dear Mr Southgate the young Jaeger co-ordinater to be my assistant/ model, again she was not officially my assistant, I just manipulated her to work with me. We did have fun regaling our evening  activities   each morning.. much to the annoyance of fellow workers in the adjoining offices. Many is the time I heard yelled through the walls "Young Jaeger team,  enough comedies back to work!" However it was those mad activities that inspired the young Jaeger look.
wow! as you can see quite a way with the ladies Bob Schulz
It was David Watts the "Old Jaeger " designer who filled me in on the history of  Young Jaeger .  Both Jean Muir  and David Watts   joined Jaeger in the mid fifties. They trained under the watchful eye of Miss A. Terrill until she retired.  It was Geoffrey's father M.M Gilbert and Miss Terrill who introduced fashion to Jaeger.  Miss Terrill  ruled the roost, a diva if ever there was one.  She was a huge influence on David Watts. It was Jean Muir who came up with the name Young Jaeger .  IT was expected that she  would design the Young Jaeger collection, it was her baby after all. However Jaeger took on Bob Schulz, a society designer who previously  had his own couture business in the West End  , a favourite amongst young debs and their mothers and adored by the press . He wasn't cutting edge but he was obviously a threat to the design team of Jean Muir and David Watts . A furious Jean Muir  left immediately in 1961, appalled that her Young Jaeger was being handed over to  another designer. No doubt she would have been involved but it was no longer her baby . 
 However she   went from strength to strength with her own label  , first with Jane and Jane and then to Jean Muir. She was respected both in Paris and England. David and Jean were very close , they worked together  and were expected to take on the role of Miss Terrill running the design studio . David never forgave Jaeger, particularly Geoffrey Gilbert for being so dismissive by handing over the reigns of Young Jaeger  to Bob Schulz. Quite frankly I do not think that Jean Muir was an ideal candidate for Young Jaeger , she was too classic , too influenced in knitwear and jersey designing , that was always  her forte , a brilliant classic designer who reached the top of her field. The Jaeger influence was too significant, the collections would have merged too much.  Young Jaeger needed to grab a younger trendy audience to keep up with Quant , Foale and Tuffen and the many stores and young designers that were beginning to hog the limelight.
Bob was employed to give a completely different look that stood out away from Jaeger a fresh , younger,individual look. He succeeded but it still had along way to go to encourage a younger audience . It was obvious from the very beginning that Young Jaeger was a thorn in David's side ... it was Jean Muir's baby and no one else was good enough. He made that clear from the moment we met . To a certain extent I admired his loyalty but I also realised that apart from his loyalty there was his desire to be head of the Jaeger design team  mirroring  Miss A Terrill before she left. Young Jaeger was a separate identity, unless he had control of Young Jaeger this would never happen.Bob had blocked his control and now it was me.
He nearly succeeded in those early days.   I was summoned to Geoffrey's office.
"Lee , David suggested that you move to his office.It will be  like a design studio .You will be under his wing ."
I obviously did not relish the idea!
However I had no choice , I was the new girl.
It lasted less than a week with David. It was obvious from the start that we would never see eye to eye. I was expected to hover by his side whilst he swanned around like some prima donna.I decided to take the bull by the reigns .   I quietly picked  up my things and moved back to my small private office. I told Geoffrey that it would be the death of Young Jaeger if I shared the office with Old Jaeger and he actually agreed with me . It was suffocating me  creatively.There was only so many two piece suits and camel haired coats that I could get excited about and Young Jaeger needed new fresh designs away from David's Jaeger  influence.  It was another generation and   appeared to be stuck in the fifties  and certainly not for my idea of Young Jaeger.

The workrooms were the opposite side of the road in Chenies Street . In many ways it was like the Paris couture work room . There were three tailors. Mr Davies, Mr Bell  and Mr Pedder who  became my favourite tailor immediately. All three were brilliant and we shall probably never see the likes of them again , now that most manufacturing is done outside England and what I call flat designing from sketches .  Strangely I met Mr Davies 40 years later in Hastings where I now live (actually I live in St Leonards once known as the new town )Like me he has retired down here . Gone was the slight cockney brogue, it was replaced by a "genteel boom .  He was attired in Country gents elegant clothing. He had grown into a role, always the creator of county elegance. His wife had been Miss Terrill's loyal assistant.They still lived and breathed Jaeger , it was in their blood.
 Mr Pedder was my favourite tailor we communicated on the same level .  He became the Young Jaeger Tailor . Again no one told me to do this I just manipulated it to suit the collection . He understood my sketches , the importance of the roll of the sleeve head, the line of the jacket flattering a woman's body whilst still allowing an adroginous look . He was an artist in his field in fact to be fair they all were. I will never forget the standard of their work . Sadly Mr Pedder died a few years ago but he will always remain the young , inspiring tailor in my mind.The saddest thing about writing this blog is that so many people have gone , I find this really upsetting and nearly gave up writing this blog as I ended up in tears .  On the positive side ,in my mind they will always  remain the young vibrant people of the sixties.I had trouble with the dress makers understanding my approach  and it soon became obvious that I needed my own dress cutter. I had just the person . She was at art school with me, Hilary Coombes , a talented cutter who had a precise eye for line  and a modern approach to cutting. MR Geoffrey agreed to employ her under my supervision.Now I had my own tailor , dress cutter, and model the back bone of the Young Jaeger look .I was ready to start.

The first collection I designed  was inspired by the evening I had spent in the Gateways club (re the previous blog Summer of 63 kings road.. designing Kiki Byrne )  and so the trouser suit range was created for the Young Jaeger collection. Leather patches appeared on the elbows of the tweed jackets. Soft feminine blouses, the it knit and geometric dresses..... The coats had a Russian look with frogging and fox fur or  Mongolian lamb collars and muffs .I worked with English woollen mills designing the cloths  to obtain an individual look, I even chose the yarns in some cases. Ian Mankin who then made high quality leather goods , made the soft suede tea shirts ,  waistcoats  and plus fours. At that time  he had a showroom in Soho that looked out at young prostitutes selling their wares, shops displayed exotic naughty underwear. My visits to his showroom was an education .  OF course he went on to have a highly successful textile business selling utility fabrics. He has now sold the business and enjoying retirement . I spoke to him the other day and both of us remember those early designs for Young Jaeger .    It was 1964 and Young Jaeger was one of the forerunners of the ladies trouser suit which by the mid 60,s became a classic.

Perhaps one of the most amusing anecdotes was when the trouser collection arrived in the Kings Road Shop. Kay and Dounna my loyal landladies, who happened to be lesbians, appeared in the young Jaeger shop in the Kings Road , dressed in all their finery of  very masculine suits. It was quite obvious that they had just walked out of the Gateways (the famous lesbian club)Dounna , who had a very grand booming voice , approached one of the sales assistants "You know that your designer lives with us. " she boomed proudly, flicking through the rail of the young Jaeger trouser suits.
Of course it was true , however they omitted to add that I had a bed sitting room in their tenanted  house which is not quite the same thing .   The young sales assistant could not wait to pass on the piece of information including  her own interpretation.  The next morning when I arrived at Chenies Street,  Amanda was absolutely furious . "Rumour has it that we are having an affair.and that is why you designed those trouser suits because you are a lesbian. " She was almost in tears. I have to say I thought it was hysterical especially the image of Dounna and Kay arriving in the shop in their "finery" Poor Mr Southgate , the jaeger co coordinator was the one who broke the news to us. Apparently it had reached director level. They did see the funny side in the end when I explained about Dounna and Kay.I was just their tenant...not their lover . 
French Vogue ran a double page spread of the young Jaeger trouser suit when the Paris Jaeger shop opened and the Young Jaeger  collection was well publicised in most magazines . Sadly Barclays bank lost all my press books from 1963 /1985. Of course I was compensated and I will blog on this later as it is a story in itself  and a Tough one ....lesson is never give up on banks and don't believe all they say .   I have never got round to spending time researching in the V&A. for my missing  press cuttings.( I found some cuttings 1967/1985 whilst clearing my parents house. They had kept them in a file marked la Verne  )  Jaeger have deposited all their history in the Westminster archives and it is like fort Knox to view. I have made an appointment next week to view so I will put some pictures up later.
In 1964      Paris was way behind in fashion, it had lost its way. It was Clare Rendlesham that reported on  a black bordered Page for Queen Magazine that Paris was dead. For me it was just an echo for even when I worked for Serge Matta he had always said that Paris was dying on its feet and London was way ahead.

 My visits to the furriers in the East End were perhaps the most interesting . Kiselefsky and Otto Glanz  made my fox  muffs /hats and fur trimmings for the Russian look. It was a completely different world visiting their factories, indeed an adventure . the noise could be deafening from the nailers as they shaped and stretched the skins to the tables. Some men wore long brown canvas  aprons, their pockets rammed full of all sorts of equipment , magnets , scissors, tape measures as they stood over their wooden benches. Scull caps covered their greying hair and rolled up sleeves sometimes displayed a tattooed number of the memories of the Holocaust,strong foreign accents tumbled from their mouths. It was another culture, another land . A musky almost claustrophobic perfume hovered in the air and   sprigs of lavender often  covered the wooden floorboards to deter the moth. 

The stories they told me about the war and their fights against the east end fascists, the black shirts  made my hair stand on end, sometimes tears sprang to my eyes as they repeated experiences of the holocaust.  Often they took me out to Blooms, the famous Kosher restaurant  in White Chapel high Street,where I would eat glaffitta fish or salt beef sarnies. The food was inspected by the local rabbi for authenticity to kosher recipes.  .The waiters almost threw the food at you. They had the reputation of being the rudest waiters in London ..possibly the world ..but the food was both delicious and an experience not to be missed . The area around Brick Lane and Spitlefields was mainly  a Jewish quarter, a vibrant  area for furriers, trimmings, manufacturing and of course in the past famous for silk.   It was the time when the Jews held the monopoly on manufacturing before the Greeks and Indians moved in . They took pride in their work and they were the best of the trade.  Friday the whole area wound down from 6pm (sunset ) the busy streets were empty , the restaurants closed and families met to celebrate the Sabbath . Now of course Spitlefield has changed completely, the modest terraced houses once inhabited by the  working class are grandly renovated and occupied by successful entrepreneurs and bankers.....or have I spelt bankers wrong .... sorry for the pun .

Betty Boyd:Geoffrey Gilbert :Lorna Catelle :"Lee "
Andrew Macaul (Davina,s dad )"Lee" : Elizabeth Smart

 Every year Jaeger held a dinner at the Hyde Park Hotel for the management.  WE were given the opportunity to meet the people behind the scenes who worked tirelessly for the promotion of Jaeger . Of course the name of Jaeger attracted many important people. Perhaps the most fascinating of the people I met was Elizabeth Smart  who wrote As I sat Down At Grand Central Station and Wept . Like the character in the book she was quiet , shy almost introverted who obviously lived by her written word,not unlike the comedian who only laughs on stage . Her day job was a copy writer .


Jaeger sent me to all the collections in Paris  on the very first days of showing . On the whole I found  Yves St Laurent too classic although occasionally he would knock you for six eg the Mondrian dress . There was only one collection that really  inspired me. It was of course Courrege and there are no surprises that he  was inspired by architecture. The stark simplicity of his designs and the sculptured cut was mind boggling .  It was the only one worth seeing . I actually bought a pair of the mad  white glasses to show to Oliver Goldsmith . Yes it was completely mad and extravagant. Every season I had to copy one design from the Paris shows . It would be in the shop within weeks of my return .However I could view much more exciting looks walking up and down the Kings Road in Chelsea or Portabello Market in Nottinghill Gate.   Paris and indeed Jaeger  failed to see or understand  the approaching anti fashion that was hovering in the background in the early 60's.Blue jeans industrial clothing and the tea shirt was about to rear its head . Le Chambre Syndical de la Haute Couture  gave a party for the VIP,s during the collections . Hoping of course to drum up business. As far as I remember it was held  in Tuileries . I was talking to Gerard Blaise , who had left Serge Matta to work for Lanvin .
"La Verne , ma chere , you must meet ...he's very important  ..." he said marching towards a grey haired gentleman . He had his back to me . He turned around and horror of horror I recognised him straight away it was Bernard Sagardoy . I managed to freeze him out of the picture as he stretched his hand towards me, his face a paler  shade of white on seeing me  . "One collection I won't be going to see ." I said coldly and watched him flinch at my response   as I marched in the opposite direction. Another lesson learnt ...Look after the little people for like doe given the right conditions they can rise . I was the last person he thought would haunt him.

St Laurents Mondrian dress

Courrege space age look
Vidal Sassoon, the hair dresser , summed up the sixties revolution with his superb geometric cuts.Like many designers, myself included, he was influenced by the works of architects . His five point cuts became synonymous with his name . His Bond Street and Grosvenor House salons were packed to capacity with the "in crowd "of the day. It was nothing to see famous actresses learning their lines , models being styled , pop stars  waving their music sheets, photographers playing with hair a camera clicking...a real happening in every sense of the word .It was exactly like a nightclub under the fierce supervision of Vidal .Unlike celebrities today they could mingle and no one would turn a blind would be considered uncool to notice or approach. Vidal was a genius.Friday late afternoon was like an exclusive club in Grosvenor House.Vidal was rushed to hospital whilst cutting my hair ..he had an appendicitis .
Young Jaeger Jean Shrimpton 
Every Summer  Jill Goodson, the Jaeger separates designer  and I  were  sent to St Tropez for inspiration.  I would book into the famous  Senequier overlooking the port . It was a great life . We even   saw a rather faded Brigitte Bardot at Plage Tahiti."tu m'a abbandonne " she cried whilst her lover plunged into the sea .   Some American guys offered to drive us to Cannes in their Sting ray along the coastal road ..absolutely terrifying. I could buy whatever inspired me for young Jaeger ..this time it was white jeans .
We stopped over in Paris and stayed at the Pont Royal hotel.  The receptionist kept ringing to ask me to see him in the reception . I thought that he was becoming a nuisance and after my body . He must have rung me at least four times, one evening.   Even now I cringe at the memory . Apparently he got hold of Jill Goodson after I left and said that he had an address of a Doctor who could help me with my affliction of rather strong calves. Yep I,ve heard it in every language from Thai to Italian ...lovely face shame about the legs . Still you can't have it all . (I try to convince myself .)I crept out of that hotel in disguise and never went back!!!!  
Jan de Souza

Sandie Moss
Music and fashion began to merge. The whole pop industry was a huge influence . Radio Caroline , the pirate   radio was broadcasting daily on the north sea . I met a photographer , Rolf von Branstaeg in the Chelsea Potter. He was connected to radio Caroline who had their offices in Chesterton  Gardens  . He was a tank of a man who's vocabulary existed  of about three words , Moooody , cooool, Yeeeh , coooooool.He drove a minute MG midget, which rather amused me concidering his size, often a discoloured joint would be burning in his fingers ... In other words he was stoned out of his box most of the time  .....  and I had a huge crush on him, God Knows why , it was not reciprocated .  He treated me like a  child . I persuaded  Radio Caroline  to record the music for my fashion show. It almost freaked out the jaeger directors and rather staid buyers  especially when he finished the show with his deep heavily accented stoned  voice saying "...Staaaay Coooool."  Usually the fashion shows were shown in rather dull surroundings with buyers scratching away  in  their notebooks, whilst society models arrogantly swanned up and down the showroom . My models were a different breed of girls , Jan de Souza , and Sandie Moss were my favourites. They could move and dance  to the music . Jan  married  Johnnie Gold who was the manager of the famous  Ad Lib in the early days before moving on to  Tramps. Sandie married Chester Jones the interior decorator . Both girls modelled for Quant and were typical of the 60;s breed .  However one day I did receive a letter commanding  that Sandie was banned ... her sin apparently  ...was refusing the advances of a particular odious Jaeger  director . So you see women throughout the ages have had appalling problems but we did not go to the one would have bothered to listen .
 Excitement arrived in the shape of Michael Rainey, a stylish blond Dandy   who was at that time dating a debutant  called Jane Ormsby- Gore , the daughter of Lord Harleck ,who he later married. His mother was the infamous socialite Marion Wrottesley who hobnobbed with Somerset Maughn  to the Kray twins.In the mid-1950s  she lived in Spain and London with the writer Alec Waugh, who gave her a Cisitalia sports car, now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and wrote about her in his much re-printed novel Fuel for the Flame (1960).   Michael Rainey  was employed as a  van driver at Jaeger. All the Jaeger girls wanted to be trapped in a lift with him. Occasionally it worked, so I'm told . It was obvious that he had other things in mind as far as career was concerned and a van driver was just filling in time. He was to become an important fixture in the Gale Street and later  the Kings Road  with his cult shop Hung ON You which he opened in 1965. He had a natural louche  Dandy style . His clothes were influenced by psychedelia,  and the remaking of vintage clothing. In many ways he was a perfectionist and although he did not have any experience with the clothing business he had style and vision .  He was a member of the louche Chelsea set which included Christopher Gibbs , Mark Sykes , David Milinarric, Julian Ormsby Gore , Tara Brown , John Crittle .      However his reign did not last long , even though it was frequented by the ever influential pop stars, Rolling Stones, Beatles .The shop closed in 1968 to be taken over by Mr Freedom another iconic man of the sixties Tommy Roberts.

Michael Rainey /Hung on You
The amazing window

  MY last collection for Young Jaeger in late  1965 was was an industrial collection using  white heavy cotton double stitching and industrial poppers...rather like Workman's clothing with slinky tea shirts .. the press loved it .Beatrice Miller of vogue  and Tom Wolsey wrote a letter of congratulations.IT was a bit too revolutionary for Jaeger and well before Katherine Hamlet did her industrial range . However all designers revolve around similar circles and sometimes they actually collide .The anti fashion look was happening in 1965  with the appearance  of  Levis jeans and  the rock festivals. Fashion was about to change completely.Women's lib was making a statement and Jaeger was completely blind to the change,.IN many ways they were still stuck in the fifties , which eventually proved to be  their downfall.
When David Watts introduced me to Brian Walsh  , his protegee.  I had no idea what he had in mind . It was therefor a surprise when Geoffrey Gilbert told me that Brian and I should work together , He would design the coats , suits under the watchful eye of David Watts  etc and I would design the dresses and blouses. Of course history was only repeating Jean Muir  and Bob Shultz . I packed my bags and left. David Watts now had what he had always wanted control of Young Jaeger. I knew that Young Jaeger's days were now numbered.  It was not aware of the change in  retailing even though it had a shop in the centre of the Kings road activity . That was their biggest mistake , they did not use the opportunity that was on their very own doorstep . Even bringing in Bella Freud at a later date did not attract the younger customer ...they had lost them, they had missed the boat. However it was an exciting time to leave Jaeger , things were happening in fashion and I was about to join the madness by working with the shareholder of Radio Caroline, Ian Ross  and starting a fashion label from scratch...and what a journey . I will blog about this later .

The most iconic shop in the wrong end of the  Kings Road was Granny Takes A Trip .It  was the radical boutique which changed fashion – and the way clothes are sold – forever at 488 Kings Road Chelsea . It was the brain child of John Pearse  a savile row tailor , Sheila Cohen and Nigel Waymouth. The windows were staggering and literally  stopped the traffic in the Kings Road. To enter the shop took a great deal of courage , the dark interior , the smell of patchouli and grass and super cool "assistants" sat lazily around arrogantly ignoring you as if you were trespassing or even worse that you were too suburban to be acknowledged. The windows were an art installation ...ever changing ..a car crashing  through a window , a May West portrait , a red Indian ...superb , superb , and more than brilliant.  Obviously the shop attracted the pop stars of the day and influenced the British eccentric psychedelia look . There was also a new young boy on the block who stuck rigidly to Hollywood glam It was of course Ozzie Clark . The appearance of antique markets selling amazing vintage clothes influence a new breed of designers and the Kings road was the place to be seen on a weekend . Scores of film makers and photographers trailed the Kings Road. It was classless every type of being could be seen from a famous film star (I saw Steve McQueen cooly browsing through the rails in the Chelsea Antiue market ) to the equivalent today of the naff wag . Hippies began to appear  with flowers woven into the hair , and 1930,s chiffon dresses and devoure velvets ...truly beautiful , I would not have missed it for the world .Speak to you soon !

ozzie Clark

la Verne wearing devoure coat purchased in Chelsea Antique market from Vern Lambert

granny takes A Trip

the Animals outside Granny Takes A Trip

George Harrison wearing Granny takes a Trip jacket and Patti Boyd


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A Philpotts beauty

The young girl in the centre worked at Philpotts sent by the lady
IT must have been around 1995 when I acquired the beach hut at West St Leonards. I was busily decorating it when I noticed an elderly lady looking wistfully at the hut. She bent down to pick up a pebble which she slipped into her pocket.We smiled at each other and struck up a conversation .
"I love this beach." she said "It brings back so many happy memories."She looked into the distance and I knew that her mind was whirling with images of the past . A gentle smile flickered across her face.
"Do you live here ?"she asked
"Yes . I came here in 1986 , the year of the hurricane . I love it ."
"You are so lucky . We left years ago..marriage you know ..." her voice faltered She pointed towards the far end of the huts . "We had a simple wooden  hut here . Every weekend a gang of us would come down to the beach , families , friends , boyfriends . We courted here ."she laughed.   

family and friends at the hut on West St leonards beach sent by the lady


I made a cup of tea for us both. She was an elegant , peaceful lady , her voice quiet , refined easy to the ear  and yet I suspect that she was a lady of modest means .
 She touched my old type writer . "you don't see those very often now. "
"I am going to replace it with a laptop.My spelling is hopeless and my typing is  beyond belief.""
"Do you write ?"
"Yes , just odd experiences ...memories . I want to write about the beach huts"
" I have some photos of this beach ...I will send them to you . We had such good times on this beach." Again she wistfully looked towards the horizon and I could feel the memories whirling through her head .
"I worked at Philpotts , the department store...before your time here . It's closed now. I will always remember the breakfasts...we had bubble and squeak, delicious . It was such an exclusive store . St leonards has changed an  awfull lot since then . The Kings Road was thriving ,every type of shop you can imagine. "
She tied the belt around her coat as she bade goodbye. "I promise to send the photos ."  and disappeared down the beach towards St Leonards.
A few days later the package arrived with four photos inside together with  a sweet letter thanking me for my hospitality .
I always meant to thank her but so much happened in this period, my father died and grief took over .  I never got round to writing to her. Of course I feel guilty but she has remained in my memories and the photos are treasured . I never saw her again and although I have searched high and low for her letter I still have not found it .
from the album

from the album
.It was at least six  years later that I was browsing through an antique shop when I came across an old photograph album. I felt a surge of sadness as I flicked through the pages ..abandoned forgotten memories always make me sad . Who would throw away a beautiful album? Then I saw her smiling , laughing on the pages with her gang posing on a groin .(2nd one in ) Of course I purchased it .
Whether the album had belonged to her I am not sure . It was obvious that at some period the owner of the album  had been in service by the inscriptions of the photographs..grand cars appeared picnics always addressed as Mr and Mrs etc ..., Somewhere in my many many boxes of photographs the album still exists..I looked today but I cannot find it .... hopefully it will turn up . I took out the interesting photographs years ago  which I have uploaded here .I could not resist this photo taken in 1928 in Bournemouth ..the dog is called Prince .


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Summer of 63,Kings Road designing at Kiki Byrne

Quinton Crisp
Serge Matta's reference

 February  1963
 I  could not take my eyes off the man sitting opposite me . His  bouffant  hair was  dyed a vivid lavender,black Kohl outlined his  eyes and his lips had the remnants of  faded orange lipstick. It was not a pretty sight . I presumed he was an actor. I was so engrossed  that I nearly missed the stop for Sloane Square.I panicked,picked up my folio  and rushed to the door. He  pushed  past me, his arms at right angles to his waist, his hands gesticulating  angrily, clicking his tongue in annoyance as   my  art folio slid along the platform, the sketches flying everywhere.  A slight  embarrassed  smile flickered across his face as he bowed his head apologetically  seeing me on all fours scrambling to pick up the papers. I just about managed to salvage most of them and wished goodbye to the ones that followed the train down the tunnel.  It was not a great introduction to Chelsea. Thank God I had safely stored Serge Matta's reference in my bag  which I had bought at great expense in Paris just before I left. It was like a Victorian doctors bag.

Serge had kindly contacted Bruno Martinez to show me the ropes in Chelsea. Bruno was well connected and we had already met up in Paris during a fashion shoot. He  was a photographer and traveller.   We had arranged to meet in The Chelsea Kitchen in the Kings Road at mid day. I recognised him straight away puffing as usual on his Gauloise cigarette and camera slung haphazardly over his shoulder. After a few pleasantries we settled down to business. We both had a limited amount of time .  
  "In the Kings road you have two choices Kiki Byrne or Mary Quant  both almost next door to each other, don't bother with the rag trade. You will not survive it and they will hate you .  It's all happening in these two shops. I know that Kiki Byrne is looking for a designer, her talented  assistant/designer  has left. You might stand a chance. However do not mention them to each other , there is history , I warn you. Kiki worked for Quant before starting up her own shop just doors away of course it did not go down too well with the other side .  There are similarities however  Quant is an original whereas  Kiki is an elegant minimalist /stylist and revered  by her loyal clientele.   If you go to Quant you might end up making tea, she's hands on, a great designer but its all hers. "

"Oh Serge tried that tea business the first day I arrived at Maggy Rouff .  He took full advantage of my being "English " or so he thought "an English girl and tea brilliant " However I make appalling tea, my mother being American always made coffee and anyway I was banned from the kitchen at home.   I never drink  tea, it tastes like dust. He asked me once and never again. It had to be the best most expensive Earl Grey tea that I had been instructed to buy in a very smart shop just round the corner from Avenue Marceau. Stupidly   I put  the tea leaves in the tea pot after it was filled with water which probably had not boiled .   The tea leaves just floated to the  top and that's where they remained .  He was  furious, especially as he was entertaining a client who he wanted to impress. .  He never asked me again to make tea . Mind you it was an early lesson in life ....within reason never do a menial job well if you have no intention of continuing it. I had no desire to be either a tea girl or a girl Friday.My passion was to be designer ."

 Bruno looked disapproving "Not really the right attitude in London.Just because you have finished  4 years at  art school and just arrived from Paris.......  "he faded off "On the other hand you have a point.  That Paris thing on it, push it. Impress them and name drop like hell. If Nicki is there it will impress him !But be careful the fashion business is full of invisible daggers ..never expose your back."
I went from feeling like  a scalded child to an experienced prima donna with just a little bit of fear.

"Well I'll try Kiki Byrne first. Too shy to name drop ...unlike you Bruno but I have Serge's reference, that,s good enough.  This crazy man with lavender hair and made up to the hilts nearly  knocked me over  at Sloane Square. My folio went flying, some of the  sketches are marked, some I lost."
"Oh that will be Quinton Crisp. He's always mooching around Sloane Square. Dear Quinton as queer as a coot but quite harmless. "
" Really ." The most useful word in the dictionary.  I hoped  I sounded convincing as I had not got a clue who he was  or what he was talking about."queer as a coot" what in the hell did that mean?
" Kiki's  studio is just round the corner  behind Peter Jones , I'll show  you but I can't wait around . "
Bruno left me outside what looked like a garage with a reception room attached.
"Remember my advise La Verne."with that he was gone, his long army coat draped around his shoulders as he ran down the street .
There was an elegant  woman sat at a large  desk. I nervously  gave her my name and  asked if I could speak to Kiki Byrne concerning a design job .
She must have seen how nervous I was, smiling she picked up the phone . "I'll ring her at the shop , It's just down the Kings  Road. You might catch her. Make yourself at home. Here have a chocolate.  "
I politely refused. The last thing I wanted was my lips to be covered in chocolate whilst I was trying to impress. 
I was in luck Kiki had agreed to meet me at the shop . I raced past Bazaar , Mary Quants shop and there on the corner was Kiki's shop .It smacked of quirky elegance. It was a large spacious boutique.  A fish pond was centre stage in the shop.I scanned the clothes on the rails. They  were simple, almost  minimalist,  shift dresses  in safe elegant colours, black , navy and white.
 I was introduced to Kiki and her ex husband Niki Byrne.Kiki was tiny but  beautifully proportioned . Her  jet black hair was cut in a Vidal Sassoon bob. She had a slightly oriental look, not exactly beautiful but stylish, a face that lingered in your memory long after her departure. Her  husky voice had the traces of an American  accent.It was immediately obvious that she did not suffer fools lightly.  Her attire was simple and  understated.  Nicki  had a racing car business in fact if it was not for his cultured accent one would take him for a slippery  wide boy. Other times he was an atrocious snob always trying to impress. It was obvious from the beginning that they were no longer an item.  Frequent barbed comments confirmed this .   They flicked through my folio. I of course could not help noticing the black stains from the accident .  As soon as I said that I had worked in Paris Couture and showed them Serge's reference  their eyes lit up. Bruno was right .After a brief discussion I was offered the design job . I started the  following week .  As far as I remember I was paid £20 a week or thereabout. I never got round to visiting Bazaar that day ... or indeed any day whilst I was working with Kiki I did not dare. I had been warned .

 for Life Magazine whose caption read; 'Young designers clamber on Chelsea Embankment. First row from left to right: Mary Quant, 29, and her husband Alexander Plunket Greene, mustachioed Kenneth Sweet, 34. Behind are Jean Muir, 29, of Jane and Jane, Gerald McCann, 29, Kiki Byrne, 26, and David Sassoon, 29. Hanging from lamp-post Sally Tuffin, 25, Marion Foale, 24 and milliner James Wedge.'Photo by Parkinson
kiki byrne dress1963
My priority was to find  somewhere to live. After several disastrous addresses around Chelsea. I was thrown out of one for allowing an overnight "guest" my long standing boyfriend and the other of being a slut in the shared kitchen/bathroom.Yes it had a bath in the kitchen, really hygienic , I left an unwashed  cup on the draining board, disaster!    Eventually I managed to  find a room in Walpole Street just off the Kings Road.  It was a large, light  attic room  with  no kitchen facilities and a shared bathroom . When I say shared I mean it was shared by all the tenants in the house and a pay telephone in the hallway . There was one lavatory in the hall which was shared by everyone .I therefor installed a bucket in the room for emergencies .   It was £3 a week paid in advance, no deposit . Kay the  housekeeper,  interviewed me , a rather humourless  thin plain woman. There was no mention of  the  banning of   visitors male or female   which sounded promising . In the early 60,s   before anything was  arranged you were told in no uncertain terms that visitors were forbidden of the opposite sex  and definitely no overnight visitors .  You were also asked for key money which was not returnable which could be anything from £5 /£200. Rackman had not arrived in Chelsea but he had influenced the landlords. I was making arrangements to move in when I saw what I thought was a gentleman approach.  He was wearing a tweed jacket and corduroy trousers.
 It was only when "he" said "Kay darling , do introduce me to our new tenant " that I realised that he was a she and they were obviously a couple which they had no intention of hiding. Her name was Dounna. "If you are lucky you might even see Princess Margaret  ...she visits  quite frequently next door."(I never saw her )
I was allowed to decorate my room in any manner I wanted. It took me two days  to paint the room a sienna orange and cork one of the walls for a pin board .I loved living there . They were charming people. Not having a kitchen was not really a problem I eat mostly in the Chelsea Kitchen or the Chelsea Potter ,  or sometimes if I was invited I went to the Pheasantry, all  in the Kings Road. In fact there was a huge choice of eateries but of course I was governed by my purse .  The food was reasonable and  in pleasant surroundings.   They were all  frequented by the Chelsea set . The Kings road trail for Saturday tourists was trickling through but it was not at its height that would be another two years at least away when Granny takes a Trip and Hung on you the Chelsea Antique Market  arrived . Hippies tripping over their beautiful 1930,s chiffon dresses and flowers perched seductively in the hair  and silly bells tinkling round their neck ,or weekend dollies with there short mini skirts barely covering their underwear ,  as they flirted with the Ferrari's, AC cobras , Rolls Royce's , Bentley's, E types  and of course the  famous Mini that slowly cruised up the Kings road looking for talent. I will blog about this later favourite period . 

One day  Donna and Kay  invited me to a club in Brammerton Street just off the kings Road  which I had never heard of ."Everyone knows The Gateways !" Kay said in horror at my ignorance.  "We'll meet you there. Just mention my name at the door. " I decided to invite my new boyfriend David  it was to be our first date. He was rather a straight architect . I had been introduced to him by an up and coming architect Peter Cook who was  at art school  with me .   Kay and Donna  duly met us at the door . It was obvious from the beginning that I had made a disastrous mistake . "Why did you bring him ?" she hissed in my ear. "well I suppose they will let him in, they don't encourage it .I'll have a word with Gina ." I was bemused as I thought that David was quite respectable .  We clambered down the dark staircase  to the basement. As soon as the door opened  the cigarette  smoke hit me.It almost blinded me and then I saw exactly what she meant. I witnessed girls dancing cheek to cheek, some embracing with an enthusiastic passion. I realised that the  Gateways was a lesbian club. I had bought my new boyfriend to a lesbian club on my first date how cool is that! David raised his eyebrows stifling a nervous giggle. He could hardly contain himself  when this rather butch lady immediately asked me to dance. I looked at Kay for assistance  but she silently lifted her finger pointing to the dance floor meaning I had to go. I was absolutely terrified. Remember that I was a young country girl  just starting out , not sophisticated , and I had never witnessed homosexuality in the raw . In 1963 it was still illegal. In Paris of course I was aware of homosexuals but I had never attended  a homosexual club.   I am sure if Craig Ravel Horward of Strictly Come Dancing fame   was judging me at the time he would say " Daaaahling! deeeesaaaster ! body language so frigid one would think she was a leper " Of course I wasn't homophobic I was just inexperienced and naive. I soon adapted to the situation and took in the atmosphere .
gateways club Brammerton Street Chelsea

girls dancing in the Gateways
I saw the women some elegantly dressed in exquisite male  lounge suits as they propped themselves up at the bar, a cigarette seductively burning in their hands, as they scanned the smokey atmosphere for talent . Lounge Lizards they certainly were. It set bells ringing in my creative mind. I wanted to design androgynous  collection but I knew that I would need an excellent tailor. It had to be perfectly tailored.
My first day at the studio,behind Peter Jones  was mind blowing.  Niki Byrne introduced me to a terrifyingly grand girl who was Kiki's loyal secretary  "  Let me introduce you to   Serena Fass , she was one of the last debutantes who was  presented to the Queen  and hobnobs with the  Indian  maharajahs  , so be careful. "   he proudly announced.
I wasn't sure whether to curtsy or laugh... was it a joke or was he really serious ....he was serious and no I did not curtsy .  I was just  a suburban  innocent in Chelsea taking it all in. At that time I doubt if I even knew what a debutant was. The studio was teaming with Sloanes , one almost had to have a pedigree to work there. I'm sure they only took me on because I had worked in Haute Couture in Paris .
  I was  sat at my table sketching away, when a young woman poked her head round the door , she seemed familiar but I could not place her.
 "Must have a pee .....fuck !" she almost shouted as she raced through . "Is Kiki in ?" I could not believe my ears , this way of communicating was completely alien to me.
"Who is she I mouthed to Serena? "
"Sara Miles ...she has just made a film   the Servant, its showing now ,very successful.Pinter wrote the script.  Kiki makes lots of clothes for her. " she replied nonchalantly when she was out of ear shot.Her voice was not dissimilar to a rather bored Sergeant major. She terrified me in the beginning.
Kiki Byrne's business appeared to run on celebrities.   Georgia Browne (singer) , Lionel Bart
(musicals ), Grace Coddington Model turned fashion journalist)  Marit Allen and  Clare  Rendlesham(fashion journalist) , Kay Kendal (Actress) Rex Harrison(actor) ,Noel Harrison(singer and son of Rex Harrison) Susanna York(Actress) , Samantha Eggar , Sara Miles /James Fox (actors romantically linked )  The list goes on for ever but one couple  stands out amongst them all who epitomized the decadent 60,s and that was Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies . Christine Keeler was  the one customer that Kiki wished to do without "I don't want that fucking whore wearing my clothes in court " she screamed on the day of the trial.However on one of her appearances she did indeed wear one of her dresses

 Mandy Rise Davis and Christine Keeler going to court

 Life was like that at Kiki Byrne ...lots of sketching...not a lot of manufacturing, total chaos , the air was often blue with swearing , and a lot of celebrities passing through the door demanding far too much  for often too little . One day I arrived at the shop to find the pond flooded and the  goldfish dead  on the carpet doubt some party went on.There was always a threat of illegal drug taking but I certainly did not witness any of it .     However the shop,  usually looked immaculate  the styling elegant and that is why KIKI  became a legend in the Kings Road  and attracted the "IN Crowd "

  In many ways her approach to designing was not dissimilar to Serge Matta, however I have to say sometimes her lack of design detail became monotonous. There were only so many shift dresses that customers would buy. Of course there were some suits but she was mostly known for her simple shift dresses ,even Barbara Hulanicki commented on them .   The cloths she used were of the highest quality , wool crepes , garigue tweeds woven cottons all simply cut with just a minor detail , a crochet collar or a frilled sleeve a Mongolian fur collar, beautiful pearl button or stylish covered buttons. Her detailing was faultless indeed it was her signature.   Perhaps one of her most stunning dresses was a white  heavy cotton lace shift . 
 Her cutter  was my least favourite person and we definitely did not get on .    It is rather unfair to compare  her cutter  to the Parisian tailors and cutters, they were from the old school of tailoring moulding a suit into shape with their clever hands  toiling and cutting like a true artists which they were of course .  It is an impression that has never left me. The relationship between cutter a/tailor /machinist and the designer is of the utmost importance. They have to respect each other and communicate on a design level . It's almost like a  sexless marriage .   If there is no bonding/communication,  like a  marriage, divorce is the only answer. Bullying is out of the question and destroys the design ethics.Sadly bullying is not uncommon in certain workrooms particularly between a new  designer and an established  cutter and it can work both ways . I have seen designers resorted to tears through the behaviour of workroom staff and visa versa. In Paris there was utmost respect for both workrooms and designers. We worked together as a loyal family.   Now I realise that if you are new to the company it has to be a slow seduction to get them on your side even if it is through gritted teeth. I was too inexperienced to deal with it.

The name Brown John (BJ) cropped up time and time again. He rarely visited the shop, however when he did he had a charisma that was unmissable.  He was Kiki's lover but there was a serious drug problem (heroin) with this amazingly talented man . He designed the titles for From Russia With Love and Gold finger , a much respected graphic designer who was revered by everyone involved in graphics.   It must have been a traumatic time for Kiki even though she said casually in various interviews "Well you could get heroin on the national health then . " It is never easy to live with a drug addict, the mood swings and the paranoia . I am sure that to a certain extent his activity affected her running of the shop.  They were an exotic couple , two amazingly talented people who reached the top and eventually lost it all. B.J died in 1970 ravaged by his drug use . 

 1963  early summer. A new  financial manager appeared on the scene, his name escapes me.He was involved with  The Apron Strings , a private gaming club in the Fulham Road  a favoured haunt of English nobility and their ladies.  It was obvious that there were financial problems  but it was quite obvious that the new manager was not the answer, it certainly did not save the day.  Eventually the shop was acquired by Jaeger. I had been given notice to quit that day . I was sad to see a talented designer lose her livelihood , however I knew that it was inevitable. I actually felt that I was wasted there .   A retail business is time consuming allows little freedom and absorbs huge amounts of cash.

I was sitting in my attic feeling worried and depressed  when I heard Kay's voice  shout up at me ,"Larrrverne telooophone."

It was Betty Boyd "LaVerne... Jaeger were here today. One of the directors saw your sketches on the wall and they were very impressed . They want to meet you as soon as Possible . You have to make an appointment to see Geoffrey Gilbert. He's the Managing Director ."

I could not believe what I was hearing . All those sketches that I had drawn week after week were going to some use after all.
"Are you sure ?"
"yes ! he saw the sketches of your trouser suits and those op art shift dresses  and asked me who drew them . I gave a brief history about you. They want to meet you . Ring them straight away . I've got the job of managing the Kings Road shop. We would love to have you on board . "

"I hope the cutter is not coming as well . I could not work with him , the pathetic sycophant. As soon as Kiki is around he is as nice as pie and when she,s away he behaves like shit .Can't even cut a piece of cake. What about Kiki ? "

"Definitely not La Verne. now forget him !  They have there own tailors. They want a young trendy designer .... they really are interested  . Now ring them. OH and  Kiki is out of the picture .  "
Even I was surprised to find myself at Chenies Street , the huge offices of Jaeger  . I took the lift to the first floor or was it the third I no longer remember.I wandered round the corridors looking for the managing directors office . A man was prancing up and down in the corridor  wearing what looked like a red padded  boiler  suit .  He was doing knee bends .
"What do you think of this ?" he said he said pointing to his padded red suit ."
 I actually thought he looked like a fat father Christmas. I just smiled, a little flustered .
"Sorry,I.m in a rush .  I have an appointment with Geoffrey Gilbert. "
"Oh I'll take you there ."
"Thank you."
 "Do you sail." he said pulling at his boiler suit ."I'm checking this out for Cowes week ."
"Yes ! " I exaggerated . In actual fact I sailed with Nigel Bamfoth and it was his boat but I could not manage it on my own .
We arrived at the office . I began to feel uncomfortable. He still hovered around me in the office and there was no sign of Geoffrey Gilbert.
"Where do you sail ?"
"Pool harbour....Sorry but I really must observe my appointment with Geoffrey Gilbert "
"Great we like sailors , Vernon Stratton, our advertising genius , represented England. Sailed a Finn. He has his old boat moored at Pool . What do you sail ?"
"A graduate ...I really ..."
 " Now sit yourself down I am Geoffrey Gilbert and you must beLa Verne Preston. Can't bare that name, we will have to change that."
I thought that I had walked into a mad house it was the strangest interview I had ever had.
"They called me Lybalule in Paris." I said helpfully .
"Right that does it . I shall call you Lee. Does that suit you ."
I nodded my head and smiled shyly . Although he was the craziest managing director I had ever met, I liked the man , we got on well. Infact I always liked him .
" I want you to meet Bob Schulz he is the Young Jaeger designer. You will be working together.  Now when can you start."
"Immediately . "
"O.K I'll just call him in."
Bob appeared in the office. After my introduction which was extremely frosty on Bob,s side. Bob  left and never returned to Jaeger. Young Jaeger was his baby and he had no intention of sharing it .  He was a brilliant designer and actually deserved far better treatment . He was the one that actually put Young Jaeger together, after Jean Muir left , at the very beginning designing a clever young and trendy range away from the classic knitwear/jersey wear  and tweeds of the Old Jaeger look.   However history had  only repeated itself for when Jean Muir came up with the name Young Jaeger in 6o's she expected to design the whole range herself .  She immediately left when Bob Shultz was employed to assist her. I note in the   archives that Bob Shultz has been airbrushed out of Jaeger  which is grossly unfair and indeed untrue. It is strange how history repeats itself.
I  bumped into Bob Schulz in Sloane Street a few days later . I actually apologised about the situation . He gave me some use full advise"never take things for granted, Jaeger is full of surprises,be prepared and be carefull of your back. He wants complete control .........."I heard the echo of  Bruno's voice and it made me shiver. 
"Who?"I asked
"Wait and see won't be long before you find out . " 
 I was given the job of the  Young Jaeger designer aged 21 years old . Little did I know but I would be treated in the same way two years hence . History has habit of repeating itself . My next blog will be about my time with Jaeger and the meeting with Radio Caroline.
NB Bob Shultz died in 2008 RIP