Ossie Clark for radley (Celia Birtwell Print) (Rare) 1970s Marvellous Mardu Print Plunging Peek-a-Boo Flutter Sleeve Dress
The youngest of six children, Raymond ‘Ossie’ Clark showed a propensity for creative flair and capacity for knowledge, when at aged nine, he designed and produced children’s swimsuits, before studying architecture at only thirteen.
As a former graduate of the Royal College of Art, London, Ossie developed close friendships with contemporaries such as Celia Birtwell and Alice Pollock, and wasted little time in gaining the attention of fashion magazines including Vogue, who showcased one of his earliest designs along with most tabloid newspapers of the period.
With a lucrative design partnership at fashion house Quorum, Alice Pollock brought in the textile genius of Celia Birtwell, a move that was to mark a successful range of dresses, which are still very much sought after even today.
A self-described ‘master cutter’, Ossie’s popularity continued for almost ten years, with shoe, dress and jacket designs relatively unrivalled within the industry, as well as gaining a reputation to transcend class and wealth barriers.
Unfortunately, with no financial grasp, Ossie and Alice’s fashion label began losing money through poor administration, thus becoming part of the Radley fashion house, after which the ‘Ossie Clark for Radley’ label became known around the world, and saw the brand reach a new mass market.
Known to have designed for the likes of Mick Jagger, The Beatles, Marianne Faithful and Liza Minnelli, Ossie’s prolific drug use gradually overtook his artistic abilities, and following a painful divorce with Celia Birtwell he began to disappear from public view, before becoming bankrupt sometime in the early 1980s.
With a brief return to the fashion world, but finding himself unable to replicate his previous acclaim, Ossie wound up designing pieces for a select number of wealthy private clients, although perhaps more out of sympathy than respect.
Having sunk into a prolonged depression, Ossie Clark later enjoyed mentoring fashion designer Bella Freud, until in summer of 1996 he was found stabbed to death by a former lover.
This is a 1970s monochromatic marvel of a peek-a-boo dress by the genius collaboration of Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell. This particular dress is one of Ossie’s design pieces for Radley, and the style is undoubtedly ‘Ossie’ throughout.
The back is cut to reveal a fabulous glimpse of flesh, and then secures with a full hidden zip, while the panelling to the bodice and shoulder draw attention to the gloriously full flutter sleeves and saucy plunging neckline.
The ‘Celia’ print, which is comparable to the ‘Little Rock’ design print or ‘Leaf Print’ is very evident, making this gown a statement in itself. While now incredibly rare and instantly collectable, this stunning garment is an absolutely perfect example of the fabulous Ossie Clark and his incredible eye for style.
Designer Ossie Clark
Fabric No label present however looks and feels like polyester nylon so washable
Size Label reads UK 12 but will fit UK 10-12
Excellent (see condition chart)
Imperfections 1 mm pull to centre bust area
Measured flat without stretching (please double for complete size)
Neckline Opening 8″
Shoulder To Shoulder (across back) 16″
Bust (at widest point) 17″
Under Bust 14″
Length (collar to hem) 59.5″
Sleeve Length (underarm to cuff) 5″
Sleeve Length (collar to cuff) 11.5″
Mannequin is UK 8-10 | Bust 31.5″ | Waist 24″ | Hips 34.5″
The dress was not pinned for photography purposes