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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Poppy Seeds

How a magical wedding dress took me back in fashion history

9 Июня 2014

Poppy Delevingne in her floral Pucci dress against a backdrop of flowers for her second wedding celebration in Morocco. (@peter_dundas/Instagram)
Poppy Delevingne in her floral Pucci dress against a backdrop of flowers for her second wedding celebration in Morocco. (@peter_dundas/Instagram)

Could it be true that I played a tiny role in Poppy Delevingne’s hippy, floaty dress for her post-wedding party in Marrakesh? 

 The sister of model Cara Delevingne – she of the fierce eyebrows – had a series of events for her marriage to James Cook. The first was in London where she wore Chanel Couture. But it was later in Morocco in a Pucci dress that Poppy looked heart-stoppingly ethereal and lovely.


Could it be true that I played a role in Poppy Delevingne’s hippy, floaty dress for her post-wedding party in Marrakesh?


As soon as I saw images of Poppy with Pucci designer Peter Dundas, something clicked. I had seen those bouquets of meadow flowers on wispy chiffon before – and it was on MY dress: an Ossie Clark beauty from the 1970′s that I sold last summer in my auction at Christie’s.

Suzy poses with her Ossie Clark dress at her Christie’s auction in London last July. Pucci Palazzo pyjamas are on the right. (REX)
Suzy poses with her Ossie Clark dress at her Christie’s auction in London last July. Pucci Palazzo pyjamas are on the right. (REX)

I remember Peter Dundas being there at the private view, with his tousled blond hair and dark glasses as wide as his smile. But I had thought he had his eye on my Pucci pieces – especially the Emilio patterned ‘onesie’, known in those days as ‘palazzo pyjamas’.
 
I called Peter in Florence. And although he told me that Poppy’s dress was rather different, because they had worked on it together and  it had a tunic top and a skirt to take off to dance in the desert until 4.00am, he remembered the sale and admitted to his fascination with that period.

Designer Peter Dundass with Poppy the bride (@peter_dundas/Instagram)
Designer Peter Dundass with Poppy the bride (@peter_dundas/Instagram)

‘I was born too late – I am a frustrated 1970′s child,’ said the designer. ‘Really it is one of my favourite periods, easy going and sensual.’
 
I admire Peter for his ability to put a new spin on Pucci, feeding into the brand’s Florentine heritage and jet set image a sense of bodily curves. There is always the relaxed Greek island feel of his own holiday home – so far from his icy Norwegian heritage.
 
But I still felt the pull of Ossie Clark, a landmark designer who incarnated that dreamy period between the angular, mini-skirted 1960′s and the drapey, droopy 1970′s. Yves Saint Laurent may ultimately have owned the hippy-de-luxe period, but Ossie and his wife Celia Birtwell sewed the seeds.

A picture from the photo album with Suzy and her sister Vivienne wearing Ossie back in the 1970s for their mothers birthday party. (Suzy Menkes)
A picture from the photo album with Suzy and her sister Vivienne wearing Ossie back in the 1970s for their mothers birthday party. (Suzy Menkes)

I pulled out a battered photo album – and there I was with my sister Vivienne, also in Ossie, celebrating our mother’s birthday. Then I looked at Celia painted by the Clark’s good friend David Hockney in yet another version of that dress.
 
In the Christie’s catalogue, the meadow sweet florals, designed by Celia, looked even more like the Pucci dress for Poppy’s desert rave.

Suzy’s Christie’s auction catalogue featuring her dress on the left and a detail of the Celia Birtwell print on the right
Suzy’s Christie’s auction catalogue featuring her dress on the left and a detail of the Celia Birtwell print on the right

I called up Celia Birtwell, who, along with Zandra Rhodes, was the greatest hand printer of them all – long before digital inventions transferred pattern from drawing books to screens.
 
Celia was sanguine about Poppy’s dress, saying it was flattering to find things ‘in the realms of’ the Ossie style.
 
“I don’t think it’s as good as ours – I don’t really like the placing of the flowers,” she said. “It’s a sort of fairy tale frock. I was inspired by Italian painting – by Piero della Francesca and Botticelli. I think the dress is one of the best that Ossie and I worked on together.’

The Ossie Clark dress shot for April Vogue in 1973 by photographer David Montgomery
The Ossie Clark dress shot for April Vogue in 1973 by photographer David Montgomery

Celia still has the quilted bomber jacket that went with the wafty dress, which David Hockney drew for one of the Ossie Clark fashion show programmes.

Celia Birtwell posed in ‘’the dress’’ for artist David Hockney to produce an illustration for Ossie Clark’s show invite in the 1970’s
Celia Birtwell posed in ‘’the dress’’ for artist David Hockney to produce an illustration for Ossie Clark’s show invite in the 1970’s

Now she is planning to put her own vast collection of clothes up for sale later this year.
 
Watch this space!


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