Sunday, 29 January 2012

Ossie Clark's Python Skin Jacket (1968)

Ossie Clark's Python Skin Jacket
According to Judith Watt's book Ossie Clark 1965/1974, Ossie first started using snakeskin in his collections sometime around late 1966 after he had discovered in a warehouse (possibly owned by Alma Leathers) several rolls of untouched Python and Watersnake skins, which had been stored there for the previous twenty years. He somehow managed to successfully hide his enthusiasm about the find from the vendor, and proceeded to purchase the skins for the bargain price of 30 bob a foot. The first outfit that he made from it was a suit modelled by Linda Keith in April 1967, shown as part of the Quorum A/W collection, but the jackets in particular became a much sought after item and still are to this day. Clients who were seen wearing them at the time included the models Veruschka and Twiggy, the actress Britt Ekland, as well as Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, and Keith Richards. Although considering the popularity of these jackets, particularly amongst the Stones and their entourage, I have to say that I've found it difficult to find what I would consider to be any truly decent examples of either Marianne or Anita photographed wearing them, in spite of the fact that the Sweet Jane household is in possession of (at last count) approximately 26 books on the Rolling Stones! But of all the various snakeskin jackets that Ossie Clark designed, the jacket in the first picture below is without a doubt my personal favourite, it was photographed by Duffy for an Observer Magazine fashion editorial in March of 1968. I'm not lucky enough to own an original as of yet, but this particular design has been the idealised template for almost every other vintage leather jacket that I have ever worn or made for myself. I just love the cut, and its slim-fit, centre zipper, the banded waist detail with over-lapped front, and snap closure. I have also included some examples of Ossie's Watersnake skin jackets in this post, as well as a  documentary about the photographer Brian Duffy, which is titled 'Duffy: The Man who Shot the Sixties', plus a link to his archive

Python jacket, waisted and slinky, by Ossie Clark, 25 gns. with cream linen shorts, 3 gns., from Quorum, 52 Radnor Walk, SW3; all branches of fifth Avenue. Jungle-striped chiffon scarf, £2 17s 6d. by Bernard Neville from Liberty. Bamboo bangles by Adrien Mann, 7s. 6d. each. Gilt rings by Corocraft, 7s. 6d. each from Selfridges, Oxford Street, W1. Mesh knee socks by Bonnie Doon 1 gns., from Fenwicks. Ochre brogues, 6 gns., from Ronald Keith, 117 Oxford Street, W1.. Photograph by Duffy.

Ossie Clark's Watersnake-skin jacket with zip, fitted at waist, £28 13s 11d, available from Quorum and Just Looking,  in Vogue, October 1968.

  Ossie's snakeskin Rocker jacket c.1966-7 from the private collection of Celia Birtwell

 Duffy: The Man Who Shot The Sixties

Duffy - The Man Who Shot The Sixties from Duffy Archive on Vimeo.

All Images scanned by Sweet Jane from The Observer Magazine, March 1968, Vogue October 1968 and Ossie Clark 1965/74 by Judith Watt.

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