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


1 comment:

  1. Hi Laverne,
    Just spotted your new post, interesting! I will revist later to read again in more detail.