"Did you ever dream about a place you never really recall being to before? A place that maybe only exists in your imagination? Some place far away, half remembered when you wake up. When you were there, though, you knew the language. You knew your way around. That was the sixties....
No. It wasn't that either. It was just '66 and early '67. That's all there was....."
These days, it is not often you see an original designer dress from 1960's outside fashion exhibitions. It is certainly rare to see them in charity shops. Needles to say, my girlfriend and I were stunned when we saw this orange sleeveless dress by Paris couturier Emanuel Ungaro in Help the Aged shop in Brighton. They certainly know what they have - the item is priced at £450. It is very early Ungaro (he started his own line in 1965) probably from around 1965 - 1967. The design is heavily inspired by Andre Courreges (for whom Ungaro worked prior to starting his own line).
Unfortunately, we could not afford to purchase this amazing item, however my girlfriend could not resist the temptation to try it on and take a photo ( I apologize for the poor quality of the photos, it has been taken on my phone). This dress is slowly becoming a talk of vintage obsessives in Brighton, but it is still yet to find the new owner. No one is willing to spend £450 , and so far charity shop had been rejecting various offers (the highest of which was £250, apparently).
The boutique called I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet started in 1964 as a stall on Portobello Market. It specialized in selling replicas of Victorian military uniforms and other accessories from Victorian era. The popularity of the stall grew, and, in 1966 it evolved into a shop on 293 Portobello Road. The shop was owned by Ian Fisk, and run by John Paul and Robert Orbach.
Ian Fisk (right), the owner.
Although not the designers, Orbach and Paul spotted the gap in the market, and skillfully exploited the mid-sixties fad for second-hand Victoriana. The real breakthrough came in 1966. As Robert Orbach remembers: I’m sitting there one morning and in walked John Lennon, Mick Jagger and Cynthia Lennon. And I didn’t know whether I was hallucinating… but it was real. And Mick Jagger bought a red Grenadier guardsman drummer’s jacket, probably for about £4-5. They all came from Moss Bros and British Army Surplus. In 1966 it was only fifty or so years from Victorian times, when we had an empire. We used to buy fur coats by the bale… we had to throw quite a lot away.
So Mick Jagger bought this tunic and wore it on Ready! Steady! Go! when the Stones closed the show by performing 'Paint it Black'. The next morning there was a line of about 100 people wanting to buy this tunic… and we sold everything in the shop by lunchtime (www.vam.co.uk).
Mick Jagger wearing a tunic From I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet on Ready! Steady! Go!, 27.05.1966
Jagger was not the only pop star who shopped at I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet. Jimi Hendrix was another prominent customer.
Hendrix outside I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet wearing a tunic, 1967.
In 1967, I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet opened two new branches - in Fouberts Place (just off Carnaby Street) and Piccadilly Circus.
The boutique was very fashionable.This is how one reporter remembers the visit: "A girl assistant was wearing a full dress jacket of the old Hertfordshire Regiment over skin - coloured tights, another customer was strutting around in black and gold 'diplomatic gear'" (Richard Lester, Boutique London, p 70).
This appropriation of British Army uniforms was not looked well upon by older members of respectable society (especially ex-soldiers), but perhaps that is why the uniforms were so popular. As Richard Lester points out: "It was almost unimportant what the shops sold, such was their reputation for anti-establishment stunts (...) In September 1966 The Times reported from the Guildhall that a 'Muswell Hill youth' had been conditionally discharged after being stopped wearing a Scots Guards tunic. 'I think it looked fashionable and smart' - the unnamed defendant commented (Richard Lester, Boutique London, p 68-70).
An article about I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet, circa 1967.
Tie from I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet (Photo courtesy of Peter Feely)
Some ads for I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet from 1967.
After the success of I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet, Victorian uniforms started being sold in many other shops in London.
The red tunic from I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet had become one of the most evocative male outfits of the 1960's London.
The Invisibles - a comic from the 1990's set in 1960's Britain. An example of how red tunic entered pop culture as a symbol of 1960's.
In2002 , indie band The Libertines (who were obviously very steeped in 1960's pop culture) wore red tunics during gigs and in few videos. What followed was an unexpected 'comeback' of tunics into fashion. Even today they are easily available in Camden Stables Market. It is interesting how many of young indie enthusiasts who purchase and wear the tunics, have heard of I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet...
The influence of I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet on 1960's male fashion was recognized by fashion history. Museum of London has on display an original sign advertising the shop as well as a Union Jack shirt.
This photo of Mick trying on a new jacket was taken by Bob Whitaker in 1967 in Chelsea boutique Hung On You, where Jagger (and a lot of other 60's pop stars) was a frequent customer. As Bob Whitaker remembers: Hung on You was just around the corner from my studio and it was always full of pretty girls. There was a lot of paranoia surrounding the shop. The clothes were very flamboyant and the police took that as an excuse to bust you" ( Q magazine, special edition, Feb 2005).
If Keith and Mick were the mind and body of the Stones, Brian was clearly the soul - wrote Rolling Stone magazine few days after Brian's death in August 1969. Apart from being a great guitarist and musical arranger, Brian Jones was also the most eye- catching member of The Rolling Stones. He was always immaculately dressed. No matter if it was sharp Mod style of early 1960's or a flamboyant Peacock Style of the latter part of the decade, Brian would always get it right. His friend, antique dealer and editor of Men In Vogue Christopher Gibbs (himself a dandy) remembers: Brian did absolutely love dressing up (...) He had a tremendous lot of clothes and spent an awful amount of time preparing himself for late-night forays into the clubs" (Paul Gorman, The Look - Adventures in Pop and Rock Fashion, p 76). Brian dated Anita Pallenberg between 1965 and 1967, and for those two years they were a 'golden couple' of Swinging London.
Brian Jones and Anita Pallenberg photographed by Michael Cooper for Men In Vogue, November 1966.
Jones' biographer Geoffrey Giuliano writes about him and Pallenberg: "Together they forged a revolutionary androgynous look, keeping their clothes together, mixing and matching not only fabrics and patterns, but cultures and even centuries. Jones would parade the streets of London wearing a Victorian lace shirt, floppy turn-of-the-century hat, Edwardian velvet frock coat, multi-coloured suede boots, accessorised scarves hanging from his neck, waist and legs along with lots of antique Berber jewellery.
According to journalist Al Aronowitz, 'Jones was the first man I ever knew to wear costume jewellery bought in the ladies' department at Saks'.
At Courtfield Road (Brian's London apartament), Chelsea's power pair played host to a constant stream of beautiful people from John Lennon and George Harrison to Sonny and Cher, Donovan and Jimi Hendrix. Trendy film maker Donald Cammell, heir Paul Getty, and Britain's bright young thing would gather at the South Kensington flat to smoke dope, drop acid and discuss the issues of the day.
Observed Anita: 'Brian was very interesting socially. He dealt with the fame and all that. He picked the best, the cream, Dylan, Terry Southern, Warhol. Brian set the pace'." (Geoffrey Giuliano, Paint It Black - The Murder Of Brian Jones, p 47-48).
Brian in his Courtfield Road flat, photographed by Gered Mankowitz, 1966
Marianne Faithfull remembers: One of the best things about visiting Anita and Brian was watching them get ready to go out. What a scene! They were both dauntless shoppers and excessively vain. Hours and hours were spent putting on clothes and taking them off again. Heaps of scarves, hats, shirts and boots flew out of drawers and trunks. Unending trying on of outfits, primping and sashaying. They were beautiful, they were the spitting image of each other and not an ounce of modesty existed between two of them. I would sit mesmerised for hours, watching them preening in the mirror, trying on each other's clothes. All roles and gender would evaporate in these narcissistic performances, where Anita would turn Brian into the Sun King, Francoise Hardy or the mirror image of herself (Marianne Faithfull and David Dalton, Faithfull, Penguin Books, London, 1994, p 90).
Brian Jones was a regular customer of Granny Takes A Trip, Hung On You and, most notably, Dandie Fashions, where he purchased amazing long, velvet double breasted coats. He was an ultimate 1960's dandy - the most perfect example of Peacock Style.
Brian Jones Goes Shopping - an article by Paul Gorman about Brian's favorite boutiques (Mojo Classic, Volume 2 Issue 4, 2007: 54-59)
At the beginning - Jones, Jagger and Richards in 1961.
Playing Dulcimer on "I am Waiting" during TV show Ready! Steady! Go!, 27.05.1966.
Playing sitar on the same show.
The wit and wisdom of Brian Jones back in 1966 - reprinted from Melody Maker and Rave in Uncut magazine.
Stones on the cover of Town And Country with socialite Alexandra F. Chase, June 1966.
Brian Jones and Keith Moon, 1966
Brian Jones and Anita Pallenberg, 3.12. 1966
With female fans, November 1966
With Andy Warhol in New York boutique Paraphernalia, 1966.
Stones accepting Golden Discs at Kensington Palace Hotel, September 1966. Brian Jones is wearing double -breasted coat from Dandie Fashions.
Brian Jones laughing at the riot at Stones gig at the Royal Albert Hall, 26.09.1966.
London Palladium, 23.01.1967. Brian Jones again wears Dandie Fashions coat.
Photoshoot in Green Park, January 1967.
Eamonn Andrew's Show. 05.02.1967.
Onstage in The Hague, Holland, 15.04.1967
Inventor of Glam? Brian in 1967
Brian and Suki Poitier in Morocco, 1967
Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop Festival, June 1967
With one-time girlfriend Linda Keith in Wells (Somerset) in 1967
Height of Hippie chic - Brian Jones and Suki Poitier, 13.09.1967
Leaving the court after a drug bust, 30.10.1967
Brian and Suki Poitier photographed by David Bailey, 1968
Shirt made by Deborah & Clare worn by Brian Jones around 1968. Recently sold in auction for £1750.
Brian Jones with John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and Taj Mahal during recording of Rock and Roll Circus, 10.12.1968.
Rock and Roll Circus - Brian's last ever gig with the Stones.
Last photo of Brian ever taken, Cotchford Farm, June 1969
Brian's tombstone in Cheltenham
The fascinating story of Brian's life (and bizarre circumstances of his murder) had been a subject of several publications. I would recommend Paint It Black - The Murder of Brian Jones by Geoffrey Giuliano, Who Killed Christopher Robin? - The Murder of a Rolling Stone by Terry Rawlings, Brian Jones: Golden Stone by Laura Jackson and Blown Away: The Rolling Stones and the Death of The Sixties by A.E Hotchner.
I would also recommend Stephen Wooley's 2005 film "Stoned" about the life and death of Brian Jones. Although it was slated by the critics and many Brian fans, I always defend it - the use of costumes and music in the film are truly amazing - it captures the atmosphere of 1960's really well.
I'll end with this great video of The Rolling Stones, Andrew Loog Oldham and Cathy McGowan miming to Sonny and Cher's 'I Got You Babe' on TV show Ready! Steady! Go! in 1966. There's a chemistry between Brian and Cathy McGowan...