Ossie Clark

Bob photographed the designs of British fashion icon Ossie Clark in London ,1967-1969. This was at the height of Ossie Clark’s career. Ossie Clarks designs were recognized as the ultimate London fashion during the late 60’s and early 70’s.

For nearly all of Ossie Clark’s career, he worked with Celia Birtwell- he would design the clothes, she would design the textile prints. For much of his life (and career) Clark struggled with addiction. He was also terrible at business. Though he had multiple failures with various lines and financial backers, he always seemed to rebound, with new ideas and new successes, at least until he was murdered.
Born in 1942, Clark was a British designer who managed to perfectly fit into the zeitgeist of the 1960’s. Between 1965 and 1975 Clark was at his best. He hadn’t yet succumbed to full-on addiction to drugs, and his work on the brand ‘Quorum’ with his partner Alice Pollock still had the potential to make it big. Eventually the brand was sold (there wasn’t enough money made, too many creditors) and the new owner Alfred Radley took a chance and financed Clark so that he could start his own line. In 1967 Clark presented his first collection, the first British fashion show to feature black models.
In the 60’s-70’s Clark was popular world-wide, dressing stars and designing stage costumes for infamous musicians from the Beatles and Mick Jagger to Peter Gabriel. In 1969 Clark and Birtwell married, though they divorced by the mid 70’s. Clark never recovered from the divorce (and separation from his two children). By the 1980’s Clark’s bohemian dresses were out of style. The designer never achieved much financial success, his best work was done when he focused on the creative side and had some kind of business manager. He had a series of failures, both in sales of his designs and fallings-out with various business partners. The 1980’s were hard. By 1990 he had turned things around, was mentoring younger designers and embarking on new projects. Sadly, in 1996, Ossie Clark was stabbed to death by a former lover. A label under his name was re-launched for a/w 08-09. It didn’t even last a year.

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Eija Verkaho wearing Ossie Clark Fashions 1967.