• Mackintosh will Rise like a Phoenix

    May 29, 2014

    glasgow school of art mac building

    Image credit: Glasgow School of Art

    It really doesn’t seem like five years since Kirstin Frocker graduated from the Glasgow School of Art and it was deeply upsetting for us all to see the Mackintosh Building engulfed in flames last Friday.

    Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the iconic library - a national treasure – was destroyed, and many of the final year students lost the portfolios they had worked so hard to produce for their degree shows.

    Well deserved tributes have been paid to the fire fighters who worked so tirelessly to extinguish the blaze while taking care to salvage as much as possible of the building's irreplaceable structure and contents. The damage, devastating as it was, could have been a lot worse without their gargantuan efforts and they are owed a huge debt of gratitude.

    The good news amidst the wreckage is that those students who lost their work are going to receive ‘Phoenix bursaries’ to cover the cost of six months’ studio space and a living allowance while they rebuild their degree portfolios. We wish them all well in doing so and have every confidence that their talent - nurtured and inspired within the walls of the world renowned Mac - will shine through.  

    Meanwhile, online donations have already exceeded  tens of thousands of pounds and the art school has been inundated with offers of assistance from specialist conservators and curators from across the globe.  So the Mackintosh building will rise again and continue to inspire future generations of artists.

    The Glasgow School of Art has a very special place in our hearts from when K. Frocker was a student there and lived, somewhat chaotically with two other art students, in a flat in Renfrew Street a mere hundred yards from the school. She has since gone on to carve out a career as a buyer for an international brand, but still cried rivers last week as her beloved Mac burned.

    We took a wee trip down memory lane ourselves to revisit K’s own degree show in 2009. We do have better pictures, which we'll try and find, but here's an interim snap of Kirstin and Danny Frocker back in 2009.

    kirstin frocker degree show glasgow

     And K's graduation, rocking a vintage hat (from the Frockery, of course!)  in place of a conventional mortar board.

    k frocker graduation

  • Letter from America

    February 5, 2014

    We were recently pleased to hear from Gen, one of our readers in the US, who had enjoyed our focus article on Droopy & Browns and wanted to share with us her own 'find' in the form of a delightful merino wool dress designed by the inimitable Angela Holmes.

    She wrote:

    On my travels I've found a wonderful Angela Holmes dress, 100% merino wool in beautiful condition.  I learnt a great deal about her from your helpful site.  If you'd like photos I can send them. 

    I'm in the Pacific Northwest - we're quite close to British Columbia and a surprising number of Brit designer labels find their way down here.  

    Naturally we wanted to find out more and see the well travelled dress, which is indeed an Angela Holmes classic.

    droopy and browns dress

    Describing the dress, Gen wrote:

    The gathering around the waist is exquisitely done, with beautiful inner tailoring. It's made from a smooth, lighter weight pure merino wool woven and does up the back with a long zipper.  It's a size 14 UK. The skirt is very full with just yards of fabric.   

    droopy and browns dress

    A lady after our own heart, Gen also told us she does most of her shopping in charity shops, commenting:

    How I found it is that I shop for most of my clothing in charity shops - both in my area (Pacific Northwest US) and in England (I stay part time in London but will shop anywhere). I'm a bit of a textile and clothing hobbyist and used to design and create clothing, upcycle and the like but haven't done as much of that lately.  I'm always on the look out for good British designers, though, as I think they, along with the Japanese, do some of the most innovative designs anywhere.   I really appreciate your blog!

    It's certainly good to know that our blog attracts such a discerning readership and that our Droopy & Browns article provided some useful background for this beautiful dress's new owner!


  • Feminine frockery from Diane Freis

    January 29, 2012

    Diane Freis studied fine art at UCLA in her native of California before turning her talents to fashion design in the mid 1970s, attracting the interest and patronage of numerous Hollywood celebrities, including Diana Ross, with her bespoke beaded jackets and vintage inspired creations.

    Relocating to Hong Kong in the late 70s, she had her distinctive and elaborate designs made up in luxurious fabrics by a skilful and meticulous local workforce. Her beautiful ultra feminine floral and geometric combination print dresses, mainly in georgette but also in silk, quickly proved popular and Freis progressed from owning a single Hong Kong boutique in 1978 to opening her own design, print and manufacturing facility in 1982, producing exclusive ranges of limited edition garments. By the mid 80s she had become a key player on the international fashion stage with celebrity endorsement for her high end bohemian creations.

    Freis’s designs remain essentially easy-to-wear, unashamedly forgiving and figure flattering, which is a boon for the less than perfectly formed amongst us! “Real women gain and lose weight and they do not always conform to magazine standards of beauty”, the designer has always insisted. Thank you for that, Diane!

    We are privileged to feature in our catalogue this stunning new arrival, a distinctive 80s georgette maxi dress with so many of the fabulous hallmarks of Diane Fries design.  In a mainly black and white print, accented with bright fuchsia, teal and yellow, it incorporates lots of romantic detail, including a crystal pleated frill around the neckline and trademark tasselled and beaded neck ties. The shoulders are accentuated with delicate crystal pleated frills and the natural waist is defined by a contrast fuchsia and teal shirred band for a comfortable fit. The skirt is in two complementary contrast prints: black and white to hip level, below which it becomes black and white with colourful leaves and is crystal pleated for added volume and fluidity.

    Buy it now for only £45 and prepare to turn heads!

    Diane Freis 80s dress

    diane freis 80s dress

    diane freis 80s dress

    80s vintage diane freis dress

  • Scottish Fashion Awards

    June 16, 2011

    The fashion industry in Scotland contributes in excess of £750 million a year to the UK economy and the annual Scottish Fashion Awards attract worldwide interest.

    Congratulations to this year's winners, most especially to the talented Jonathan Saunders, who has won the top accolade of Designer of the Year  for the second year in a row.

    Clad  in a Christopher Kane green lace dress, Samantha Cameron graced the Glasgow event along with a coterie of celebrity fashionistas. However, it was Shirley Bassey, wearing a head turning tartan Graeme Black gown with a sporran for a purse, who stole the show as far as we were concerned.

    shirley bassey scottish fashion awards

    Just wow, what a lady! But (if you'll forgive the shameless self-promotion) there's no need to be a Big Spender to play up the plaid or rock the tartan.

    Meanwhile, we have been inspired to look into recycling grandad's old sporran!

  • New frock, or maybe just a respray?

    September 20, 2010

    Fabrican (literally, fabric in a can), which was showcased at the Science in Style  show at London Fashion Week, is an innovative spray-on textile developed by Spanish fashion designer Michael Torres in collaboration with the Royal College of Art and scientists at Imperial College London.

    The spray forms a seamless fabric when sprayed directly on to the body, is easy to peel off and can be washed and reworn.

    The Guardian reports that  “Torres took 15 minutes to spray a T-shirt onto a male model in a demonstration”, which is significantly longer than throwing on a conventional T, so it may not catch on with the fast fashionistas.

    Another drawback we have identified is that, while spray-on clothing may be fine for those without too many inches to pinch, some of us would need multiple layers of spray to keep the bulges at bay, or just smooth them out a bit. Will Fabrican spray directly on to Spanx, we wonder?

    On a serious note, this is an exciting invention, which has a myriad of applications, not least of all for medical use as sterile spray-on bandages. We aren’t sure it will catch on as a fashion textile, but we are certainly impressed by its multiple use and reuse potential.

    Take a look at this link for some video demos of Fabrican in action.

    We'll  need a rub down and some filler at the body shop before booking our respray, so will be sticking to conventional clobber in the  meantime.

  • Frockery Focus on Jean Varon (John Bates)

    July 22, 2010

    John Bates, creator of the vintage Jean Varon label, was undoubtedly one of the most influential and iconic designers of the 60s and 70s.

    Born in Northumberland in 1938, Bates secured an apprenticeship at the age of 18 with the design house Herbert Sidon in London before becoming a freelance fashion illustrator and going on, in 1959, to found Jean Varon – a name he allegedly chose because it was French and sounded more sophisticated.

    Along with his contemporaries, he helped push the boundaries of 60s fashion, raising hemlines to unprecedented heights, introducing trouser suits for women and creating the mesh midriff bikini dress. He made use of futuristic shapes and fabrics, especially leather and vinyl, in his avant-garde designs and is even credited by some as having been the inventor of the mini skirt.

    Julie Christie wore one of his dresses in ‘Shampoo’ and he designed the iconic black leather catsuit worn by Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, along with a whole range of clothing for the Avengers series.  Meanwhile, one of his midriff exposing designs won Dress of the Year in 1965. This newsreel film,  Dressed to Kill, gives a flavour of his innovative work during the swinging 60s and even features designs for canines!

    By the 1970s, ultra feminine evening wear was becoming a key element of the Jean Varon label, with the famous backless evening dress making its debut in 1973 and the empire line gown consistently featuring in collections. Royalty and many of the celebrities of the day - including Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra, Julie Christie and Dusty Springfield - wore Jean Varon, assuring John Bates his well deserved place as one of the most influential designers in fashion history.

    John Bates is currently living, and painting, in Wales.

    We have been privileged to offer several Jean Varon pieces  at The Frockery over the past few years and they are invariably snapped up by discerning customers.

    We currently have this evening dress in stock, which is a beautiful example of Jean Varon and every bit as wearable today as it was in the 1970s.

    Update, July 2012: This vintage 70s Jean Varon black maxi dress has just been added to the catalogue.

    vintage 70s jean varon john bates black maxi dress