Inspired by the popularity of the Mary Quant mini skirt stamp from 2009’s British Design Classics issue, the Great British Fashion issue, featuring ten of the most influential names in British fashion. Issue date 15th May 2012.
In honour of Britain's Olympic and Jubilee year, the Royal Mail has unveiled a series of designer stamps to celebrate the last 60 years of British fashion. Classic designer pieces - including a tartan dress by Vivienne Westwood, a Paul Smith suit, and a gold Zandra Rhodes ballgown - have been immortalised in the stamps, captured by fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø.
Live models – as opposed to static fashion mannequins – were used to achieve dynamic postures and a sense of movement. the models had to embody the ideal silhouettes of the various fashion eras and fit perfectly into the surviving existing garments. The two-day photo shoot took place at sundsbø’s london studio. Some of the clothes were obtained directly from the designers, whilst others were sourced from specialist vintage fashion stores. Johnson banks worked closely with the photographer and his assistants, stylists and hair and wig artists. Following the shoot, the features of the models and the background were erased from the images in order to focus the viewer’s gaze upon each of the distinctive british fashion designs.
'It's hard to make clothes look interesting if no one's wearing them'
Michael Johnson - the creative director of London-based graphic designers Johnson Banks, which created the stamps - explained.
'On a tailor's dummy they seem flat and lifeless. On the other hand, we didn't want models or celebrities to distract from the design, which is what we are celebrating. For example, there's a great photo of Ringo Starr wearing a classic Tommy Nutter suit in the Seventies, but you just think, 'there's a great photo of Ringo' and don't look at the suit.'
Lee alexander mcqueen cbe (1969 – 2010) was born in lewisham, london. He was a fashion designer and couturier best known for his in-depth knowledge of bespoke british tailoring, his tendency to juxtapose strength with fragility in his collections, as well as the emotional power and raw energy of his provocative fashion shows. He worked as chief designer at givenchy from 1996 to 2001 and founded his own label under the name alexander mcqueen. His achievements have earned four british designer of the year awards (1996, 1997, 2001 and 2003), as well as the CFDA's international designer of the year award in 2003.
The piece shown on the stamp is ‘black raven’ from mcqueen’s horn of plenty 2009 collection.
Sir paul smith RDI (1946 -) was born in beeston, nottinghamshire. He left school at 15 with
the ambition of becoming a racing cyclist. A cycling accident put an end to his cycling hopes,
and during the six-month hospital stay that followed smith made some new friends. After leaving hospital he arranged to meet them at a local pub that was popular with art students. It was then that he realised he wanted to be a designer.
Smith took evening tailoring classes with gordon valentine tipton, who showed him how to
cut cloth as well as taught him all the basics. Later smith joined lincroft kilgour in savile row,
where his designs were worn by celebrities, including george best. He opened his first shop in 1970.
in 1976 smith’s first menswear collection was shown in paris, under the paul smith label.
In 1998, he showed his first women's collection at london fashion week. Paul smith remains
fully involved in the business, designing clothes, choosing fabrics, approving the shop locations
and overseeing every development within the company. He has showrooms in london, paris, milan,
new york and tokyo. The suit on the stamp dates from around 2003.
tommy nutter (1943-1992) was born in barmouth, merionethshire. He recreated the savile row suit
in the 1960s. in 1969, he joined up with edward sexton, to open nutters of saville row. Nutter combined traditional tailoring skills with innovative design. His clients included mick jagger
and elton john. Nutter was most proud of the fact that he dressed three out of the four beatles
on the cover of the LP abbey road. The suit featured on the stamp was originally designed for ringo starr and has been recreated especially for the photo shoot.
Dame vivienne westwood DBE RDI (1941-) is largely responsible for bringing punk fashion into
the mainstream. in the mid-1970s with malcolm mclaren, westwood created clothes drawing
inspiration from bikers, fetishists and prostitutes, which mclaren sold from his kings road boutique.
When mclaren became manager of the sex pistols, the band wore westwood and mclaren's designs.
the 'punk style' included bondage gear, safety pins, razor blades, bicycle or lavatory chains
on clothing and spiked dog collars for jewellery. Westwood’s work includes the adoption of traditional elements of scottish design, such as tartan fabric, and the reinterpretation of 17th-and 18th-century cloth cutting principles. her first catwalk show was presented in 1981, featuring the collaboration of westwood and mclaren. The first major retrospective of her work was shown in 2004–05 at the victoria and albert museum in london.
The 1993 harlequin dress shown here was famously modeled by naomi campbell.
Zandra rhodes CBE (1940-) was born in chatham, kent. She was one of the new wave of
british designers who put london at the forefront of the international fashion scene in the 1970s.
Her designs are considered clear, creative statements, dramatic but graceful, bold but feminine.
Rhodes's inspiration has been from organic material and nature. Her approach to the construction
of garments can be seen in her use of reversed exposed seams and in her use of jewelled
safety pins and tears during the punk era. With her bright green hair (later pink and sometimes
red or other colours), theatrical makeup and art jewellery, she stamped her own clear identity
on the international world of fashion. Rhodes designed for diana, princess of wales, and continues
to design for royalty and celebrities. She notably designed several outfits for freddie mercury.
The early 80s gold 'royal' dress shown here comes from zandra rhodes’s personal collection.
Jean muir, CBE, FCSD (1928-1995) was born in london. She worked briefly in a solicitor's office
before taking a stockroom job at liberty & co in 1950. Despite her lack of formal art college training,
she was given the opportunity to sketch in liberty's ready-to-wear department, which led to her
gaining a job as designer for jaeger in 1956. Her own label jean and jane was launched in 1962
followed by jean muir ltd. in 1966. Famous clients include former muir model joanna lumley,
charlotte rampling and maggie smith. The outfit featured here dates to the late 70s/early 80s.
sir edwin hardy amies KCVO (1909-2003) was born in maida vale. He became managing director
of mayfair couture house lachesse in 1934. After world war ii he opened his own fashion business
in savile row. Amies was the first major european fashion designer to venture into ready-to-wear
and in 1955 received a royal warrant as dressmaker to the queen. Other commissions have included
clothing for the 1966 england world cup squad and the 1972 GB olympic squad and the film 2001: a space odyssey. The outfit shown on the stamp dates from the late 1940s.
Designer history via Designboom