The Fashion and Textile Museum always puts on a fantastic show and their current exhibition is just one of many to highlight the influential changes throughout fashion and textile history. The current display tells the story of the life and works of Thea Porter.
Here are a few pictures, notes and thoughts from my visit to this brilliant exhibition.
Thea Porter is known for her 70's Bohemian Chic, bringing kaftans into couture and charging hundred of pounds for her garments. This recent exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum tells a whole lot more about the wonderful life and embracing career of fashion designer Thea Porter.
Thea's career started London in 1964 initially designing for interiors. After much success, Thea's style soon became popular within the London scene and shortly after opening her shop in Greek Street - selling her interiors - she was commissioned to dress some of London's hippest hippies.
Born in Beirut, Thea's first collections evolved from the fashions and garments she knew of growing up in the Middle East. Making replicas of these traditional garments, Thea continued to use fine silks, brocades, embellishment and trims within her work.
Photo: Price chart of fabrics, make and retail costs (£600) for one garment.
A price worth paying
In the 1970's Thea Porter reports to paying £10,000 for a years rent in Soho. At that time you could also get a yard of cotton voile for "16 or 17 pence".
Seeing the pieces on display you can understand the amount of work that went into each individual item. Despite having a extremely rich following, there were still many that couldn't justify the price of Thea's garments.
There was a difference in views about her work from many of her contemporaries. Some people liked some of the garments, others not so much.
A captivating piece of film footage shot in the 70's shows Thea at a dinner party being quizzed by friends about the cost of her garments. One gentleman suggesting how unfair it is that a steel workers wife cannot afford such a garment is challenged by the voice of a younger stylish lady that we are fortunate that Thea had realised such an item of beauty!
Photos: 1) Hand appliquéd tiger stripes (1984) 2) Detailed stitch work 3) Garments from Thea Porter Paris, 1977-79.
When totalling up the cost of one dress it was almost £165 in materials alone. One interviewee couldn't justify paying the hundreds of pounds asking price, but thought that "£30" would be sufficient.
Thea Porter's prints and fabrics have however stood the test of time - with those on display still looking as fresh as the day they were made.
Photos: Textiles by 1) Janet taylor, 2) Hannah Meckler 3) Sandra Munro
Thea and SOHO
The exhibition gives great insight into Thea's personal life and shows just how connected she was with her work. Entertaining played a huge part in Thea's social life, mixing friends, clients and fellow patrons of the Colony Room around the table at her 'raucous' dinner parties.
Mingling with Rock'n' Roll legendaries Thea's following included huge names in the music scene. She made special clothes for the likes of Pink Floyd, Mick Jagger, Cat Stevens and not to mention Jimi Hendrix. In the art and fashion world, Thea was a key member of an 'innovative group' that included famous designers Ossie Clark, Zandra Rhodes and Jean Muir.
Photo: 1) Gathering for dinner 2) Hand written dinner menu for 'The Black and White Affair' where "Thea served only black and white foods such as Caviar and seabass with Mayonnaise".
In an extract from 'Tonight' footage from the BBC (1970's) Thea talks about her daily meetings with Frederick Davis, a reader of the Tarot cards, Clairvoyance, and also her business advisor. It was charming to hear her talk about how much she relied on her dear friend and advisor, and extremely interesting to learn how having her cards read every day gave her options of which route to take in business!
Photo: Thea's daily cards being read.
Love, Love - & do call me, Diana
Through the carefully curated displays you really get a sense of the personal touch that Thea employed throughout her life. The fun dinner party menu (above) and these beautifully written show invitations are a great example of how important her every communication was.
Photo: 1970's beautifully thoughtful typed and handwritten personalised invitations. Before emails, text messages and other forms of media we so employ today.
The exhibition was a fantastic insight into Thea's career and delved into her sketch book of unfinished memoires. Her legacy has lived on not only in the precious collection of treasured pieces, but in 'a new generation of style icons' such as Kate Moss, Jemima Khan and the Olsen twins still revelling in the Boho Style today.
Thea Porter 70s Bohemian Chic runs from 6th February - 3rd May 2015.
Riviera Style is the next exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum, May - August 2015.
PIPÉT and FTM SHOP
We are also please to announce that the FTM Shop will be stocking our beautiful silk scarves during the Riviera Style exhibition May - August. Do make sure you head to the shop when visiting the exhibition!
Pieces from SS15 Curiosity Collection - available now in our shop.