B. June 9, 1942 D. August 6, 1996 Birthplace: Liverpool, England
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when London's Chelsea neighborhood was the center of world chic, one designer was at the center of that world. Ossie Clark, along with his wife, Celia Birtwell, famous for her tuned-in textiles with psychodelic prints, helped define the moment.
Born into a working-class family, Clark took courses at a technical college and studied art at a local college. He ultimately attended London's Royal College of Art on a scholarship and graduated with honors. Clark's clothing designs quickly attracted the attention of some of the most memorable personalities of the moment. He is probably best known for designing the costumes of rocker Mick Jagger, lead singer for the Rolling Stones, and for Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Clark's most notable creation was probably the iconoclastic snakeskin suit he designed for the companion of Stones guitarist Keith Richards, singer Marianne Faithfull; every fan knew she and her girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, took turns wearing the treasured garment.
Clark, who loved fabric, used everything from his wife's painted chiffons and satins in his 1930s style gowns to painted paper dresses, resulting in a kind of whimsical, yet glamorous look, which the public loved. His ethereal creations were often shown in unconventional settings, like London's Chel sea Town Hall, on dancing and twirling models. Each piece had a secret pocket, just big enough for some money and a key, his special trademark. In the early 1970s Clark called upon a talented new shoe designer, Manolo Blahnik, who had just arrived in London and asked him to design a line of shoes exclusively for his company.
Personal difficulties, along with changing aesthetics and values, resulted in a declining demand for Clark's creations, but many of his customers, like Bianca Jagger, remained faithful to him throughout his life. He and his wife were immortalized by their friend, famed artist David Hockney, in the well-known painting, Mr. & Mrs. Clark and Percy, which hangs today in Chicago's Art Institute. See also: Manolo Blahnik.
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