"Ossie Clark"s iconic designs are being exploited" says Janet Street Porter… and fashion experts and ardent fans agree

'Ossie Clark's iconic designs are being exploited' says Janet Street Porter… and fashion experts and ardent fans agree



15:18 GMT, 12 November 2012

In the heady days of the Swinging Sixties, his was the label to be seen in. From Bianca Jagger to Marianne Faithfull, all the it-girls of the time were wearing Ossie Clark's vibrant, flowing dresses.

Debenhams is hoping to recapture some of that era-defining magic with its new Ossie Clark London range inspired by his creations, but fans and fashion bloggers alike have slammed the department store's line as an 'insult' to the late designer.

Janet Street Porter – who walked down the aisle in a purple crepe and lace Ossie Clark original at her first wedding – said the line is exploiting his iconic designs, and questioned why his former wife and collaborator Celia Birtwell was not consulted on the range.

London calling: Ossie Clark's new collection is to hit stores in February

Retro glamour: Ossie Clarke's flowing sleeves and fluid cuts were made famous in the Sixties and Seventies

'Exploitation': A sneak preview of the Debenhams collection, due to hit stores in February, has failed to impress fans of Ossie Clark's original designs

The textile designer has said she lost the rights to Ossie Clark's name in 2000.

Nonetheless the name is back, attached to the line due to launch in 45 Debenhams stores across the UK from February.

According to the retailer the Ossie Clark London collection will feature a mixture of new designs alongside a limited run of previously unreleased and remastered pieces.

Designer Nicholas Georgiou said the pieces will retain the 'flavour of Ossie's original designs', but this has been of little comfort to dedicated vintage lovers who insist the concession deal is an 'insult' to Ossie Clark's memory.

Actress Ali MacGraw in Ossie Clark

Swinging Sixties: Model Twiggy was one of many fashionistas of the day who favoured Ossie Clark's designs

Real deal: Actress Ali MacGraw, left, and supermodel Twiggy, right, were among the fashionistas of the day known to favour Ossie Clark's designs

'Genius': The late designer with textile designer Celia Birtwell and their sons Albert and George

'Genius': The late designer with textile designer Celia Birtwell and their sons Albert and George (as a baby). The couple divorced in 1974

Liz Tregenza, who writes blog
Advantage in Vintage, said news of the collection had left her 'fashion
blood boiling', and described the dresses circulated by Debenhams ahead
of the launch as 'frankly hidous'.


Debenhams is selling a new range of clothing named after iconic Sixties designer Ossie Clark, who died in 1996.

collaborated with textile designer Celia Birtwell to produce some of
the most beautiful dresses that summed up that era, worn by Pattie Boyd,
Ali MacGraw and Bianca Jagger.

He made my first wedding dress in lace and purple crepe.

his former wife Celia says she lost the rights to his name in 2000 and
what Debenhams is selling has very little to do with Ossie's original

Celia designed a successful range for Topshop a while ago – why wasn't she consulted

She wrote: 'Ossie Clark (in my humble opinion) was one of THE great designers of the late 20th century.

'There is a difference here to
re-launching labels where the original designer is still alive as
permission can be granted, but this is an insult to Ossie, and something
I feel sure he would not have accepted.'

Fellow blogger and costume designer
Liz Eggleston, who is behind blog Get Some Vintage-a-Peel, was equally
passionate in her criticism of the decision to use the late designer's

She wrote: 'Why is the identity of a dead man
being stolen to sell cheap, nasty, derivative clothes for the profit of
big business Why is nobody in the fashion world questioning it'

The blogger – who says she can 'spot an unlabelled Ossie Clark from twenty paces' – went on: 'He was a maverick
and a genius, and to use his name as though he were some random King’s
Road boutique is an insult to his memory.'

The rights to Ossie Clark's name are now understood to be owned by Alison Mansell Ltd. Alison Mansell is the designer behind the grey polka dot Marks & Spencer dress that became a sell-out when Samantha Cameron wore it at a Tory party conference in 2009.

With the collection unavailable until next year, it remains to be seen whether shoppers will fall for the reinvented label, or agree with the fashionistas when they say: 'If it's not vintage, it's not Ossie'.