Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Aubrey Beardsley Influence (1967)


A fantastic fashion editorial from 1967, referencing the renewed interest in the 19th-century English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley throughout the mid to late 1960s―following the highly influential major retrospective of his original artwork which had taken place at The Victoria and Albert Museum the previous year. Beardsley was the first artist whose work made a strong visual impact upon me, and as a teenager I would spend hours trying to imitate his style of illustration. My love for his artwork was quickly followed by a lifelong infatuation with the 1960s and also with fashion design..So, it was truly great to find all three of these elements combined together.    

Aubrey Beardsley exhibition poster 1966
A promotional postcard, advertising the Victoria & Albert Museum's Aubrey Beardsley exhibition, 1966.


The 1890s in England was a flamboyant decade and a precocious artist named Aubrey Beardsley was the supreme portraitist of its perverse moods. Through his ink drawings, the age has lived on-and suddenly it is fascinating this generation. A huge Beardsley show in London last year struck a responsive chord in mod England, where Beardsley motifs popped up everywhere-in clothes, furniture, decor. This month, a bigger show opens in New York's Gallery of Modern Art and U.S. fashion designers are evoking the super elegance Beardsley epitomised. On these pages their fashions are set against over-sized copies of Beardsley drawings.

Quite apart from its enchanting visual effect, the Beardsley spirit brings a softer new femininity to fashion. Last year's clothes were vibrantly bright, glazing with hot colors. Many designers are now returning to the classically elegant combination of black and white in bold sweeps. Whether in sinuous prints or in organdy and lace, late-day outfits especially have a sophistication that is more woman and less little girl. Serving as  backdrops for the styles shown here Beardsley's Garcon de Café , The Toilette of Salome and The Wagnerites. Part and parcel of the Beardsley mood are the elaborate hairdos which are curlier and more complicated than women have worn for years. For gala events, these hair arrangements become truly spectacular with ringleted falls and entwined braids bedecked with ribbons, feathers and flowers. With the hairdos go the hats―simple in shape, but very pretty.

Aubrey Beardsley Donald Brooks Benedetta Barzini
Looking as if she were part of another Beardsley drawing for Salomé, a model wears a silk evening dress by Donald Brooks. The bold, sinuous print is in the Beardsley spirit, as is her intricately curled evening hair-do arranged by Kenneth. *None of the models were credited by name in this editorial, however, I do recognise the model in this photograph as she is particularly striking, it is of course, the one and only Benedetta Barzini.

Sassoon-curled girl, walking in front of Beardsley waiters, wears half-and-half tights and a young day dress of carefully plotted geometric panels by Elite.

The Black Cape by Aubrey Beardsley, illustration originally created for Oscar Wilde's Salomé. 1894. 

1960s Aubrey Beardsley black and white Fashion
Turned out for a big night at the opera like Beardsley's Wagnerites, girls wear bare-backed blacks by Trigère. Coiffed heads are by Hugh Harrison and Halston of Bergdorf Goodman's; Halston also made the pouf-skirted dress. 

The Peacock Skirt, Aubrey Beardsley, 1893.


A model in white organdy cap and crystal-encrusted lace dress by George Halley is a lovely companion to the drawing for the frontispiece of The Pierrot of the Minute, a play. Rounding out the late-day outfit is a large beret of organdy by Halston. *Note: this model, although yet again unnamed, looks remarkably like Marisa Berenson.

La Dame Aux Camelias by Aubrey Beardsley, 1894. 


Mrs.Harilaos Theodoracopulos, of this year's Best Dressed List, wears Adolfo's Camelia-trimmed hat-reminiscent of Salomé, and Bill Blass's cocktail dress.

All content scanned and transcribed by Sweet Jane from an original editorial in LIFE Magazine, February 1967. Photographer: Greene-Eula. The Aubrey Beardsley V&A 1966 exhibition promotional postcard material was also scanned from my personal collection. The additional Aubrey Beardsley illustration scans are from The Best Works of Aubrey Beardsley, published by Dover. And you can view some more of my Aubrey Beardsley related posts here: Biba Artist & Interior Designer Antony LittleAubrey Beardsley Prince De L'Art  in Plexus 1968;  Antony Little: Beardsley, Biba, and Beyond. A vast selection of Beardsley posts and much more can be found on the excellent { feuilleton } blog. And finally, Beardsley 120: The Death of Pierrot.


  1. Love Beardsley, what an excellent influence for 60s fashion to absorb...

  2. Thank you for these lovely scans. Yes, you can surely see heavy Beardsley influence in 60s illustrations-- Not just the 60s-does-Victorian fashion phase, but also in the sinewy line and plan with proportion in psychedelic illustration, animation, and poster art. I definitely see Art Nouveau and especially Beardsley all over the animated "Yellow Submarine"... And Lennon even put Beardley on the cover of Sgt. Pepper if there was any doubt! ;)

  3. Thank you for scanning and posting this editorial. I was also enamored by Beardsley as a teenager and it was these illustrations and Pre-Raphaelite paintings that inspired me in so many ways.