The 21 Shop
This feature from British Vogue, originally published in October 1965, celebrated the 4th anniversary of the incredibly successful Woollands 21 Shop in Knightsbridge. The 21 Shop was the brainchild of Martin Moss a young retail executive who was initially appointed as general manager of Woollands in 1954 and went on to become managing director of the department store two years later. By 1961 he had completely transformed the store from its previous incarnation as a dowdy relic of Edwardian Britain into a unique contemporary retail space. In Moss's opinion the most vital new department within Woollands was the 21 Shop, which was dedicated to showcasing new British design talent and aimed primarily towards catering for the emerging young fashion customer. With the focus on youth, Moss engaged students from the interior design department of the Royal College of Art under the guidance of Terence Conran, to create the image concept for the new shop space and also made the brave but enlightened move of appointing Vanessa Denza, a twenty-two year old Woollands employee as the fashion buyer for the boutique. Although relatively inexperienced, she nonetheless proved herself to be both dynamic and innovative in this role. Instead of merely choosing merchandise already on offer from established manufacturers, she actively pursued and encouraged previously unknown designers fresh from the art colleges. She also kept things interesting by accelerating the turnover of stock within the boutique, running only a few dozen styles for a short time rather than buying a few hundred of the same styles and running them for an entire season, which was the standard industry practice. Having revitalised Woollands and established the 21 Shop as a forum in which British ready-to-wear fashion could flourish and compete with its international counterparts, Martin Moss resigned from his position as managing director in 1966 shortly before Debenhams made the decision to sell the now lucrative Woollands site. He did however continue his illustrious career in retail, and at the end of the decade the influential WWD described him as "London's one man wave of fashion". Vanessa Denza also left the 21 Shop in 1966 to start her own boutique with partner Madaleine Frye, which was called the Vanessa Frye Boutique, located on Sloane Street, the boutique ran from 1966-1970, Vanessa then went on to set up an international buying office and consultancy in 1971 and in 1988 she founded Denza - a specialist recruitment consultancy for the fashion industry. Having helped to successfully launch the careers of so many designers during the 1960s she returned to her original roots of promoting new design talent in 1991, when, along with Jeff Banks and John Walford she co-founded Graduate Fashion Week, a charity based organisation which brings together the best of emerging British design talent.
The 21 Shop
The 21 shops are four years old today. First there was one, in Knightsbridge. Then there were four. And now, to celebrate the anniversary, another 21 Shop has opened in Manchester, at Marshall and Snelgrove. They're always full of new names and new ideas. Here we show four things from established young designers, and four from new designers who are establishing a name. All of them British. And from September 27 to October 9 Woollands' "Focus on new Britain" will concentrate on the pick of new British talent. All these clothes are at Woollands 21 Shop; Marshall and Snelgrove 21 Shops in London; Birmingham; Manchester; and William and Hopkins, 21 Shop, Bournemouth.
Oscillating op print of black and white crepe, squares becoming circles. Short sleeved simple top, short black skirt. By Veronica Marsh, 14 gns. Black and white earrings and ring by Corocraft.
Streamlined shiny suit of bright blue PVC, skimming in to the waist, high collar with lots of bravado. Poppered front. By Ossie Clark, 11 gns. Red, white and blue indian scarf, at Washington Tremlett. White gloves by Miloré. White patent boots, by Giusti, available at Russell and Bromley, New Bond Street branch.
Christopher Robin suit, soft brown speckled tweed, soft velvet pockets and collar. The long jacket is finely tailored with three brown buttons, and can also be worn with trousers too. Here with a skirt. By Foale and Tuffin, jacket 15 gns., trousers, 7 gns., skirt, 5½ gns. Matching velvet beret by James Wedge.
Scatty brown butterfly scattered jacket, shiny pink PVC, long and slinky and side buttoned. Slotted belt buckles at the hips; 9½ gns. Pink trousers are made to order. By Hilary Floyd. Matching handbag by Sally Jess, £3 7s. 6d., Woollands, and 21 Shop, Manchester.
Slick coat with a shapely yoke on top, threepenny bit colour and black, with two buttons high and two buttons low. Peter pan collar, skinny black belt. By Roger Nelson, £21 19s. 6d. Shaggy mongolian lamb beret and scarf by James Wedge. Gloves by Dent.
Skinny coat, precision seamed high shoulder yoke and sweeping seams concealing pockets. Stony wool gaberdine, single silver buttons. Ginger Group by Mary Quant, 13 gns. Printed fur hat by James Wedge.
Spot on crepe, black on white, op art print circling a short, flaring hem. Simple skimming shape, with a deep V neck. By Ossie Clark, 11 gns. Shiny spot ring by Ken Lane.
Racey jacket, fast looking khaki with double team of buttons, double stitched epaulettes, sleeve tabs, powerful pockets. By Gerald McCann, 16 gns. Creamy cashmere sweater, Braemer.
All images and original text scanned by Sweet Jane from British Vogue October 1st 1965. Model: Chrissie Shrimpton, Photographer: David Bailey.