“Ossie could have been an architect. He was great at creating three-dimensional shapes, which I could never do. I create flat designs and he could create shapes and volumes…Ossie was perhaps the first to put music in a fashion show, involving models of different ethnicities, interesting people from all over, dancing during the show. A multicultural phenomenon for the time that started a whole movement.” This is how Birtwell herself describes their working relationship, which began when Celia and Ossie met at the Regional College of Art in Manchester.
From early on it was clear that fashion was probably one of the main ingredients of the success of their union. After college, they moved together to London and, with Celia designing fabrics and Ossie cutting garments that would ‘respond’ to the shape and movements of the female body, they came to define an era.
Between 1965 and 1974, the Clark style was defined by slinky, second-skin dresses that were supposed to be worn ‘with no underwear’, as many wearers recall, and incredible prints inspired by Celia’s interests: from Art Deco to Leon Bakst and Sergei Djaghilev, from medieval English tapestries to Cubism and Pointillism. Clark’s interest in historical garments and fashion creators led him to experiment with cuts that payed homage to Madeleine Vionnet and Charles James, but adapted to the scenario of late 1960s London: a ‘swinging’ atmosphere where liberation and freedom were definitely the main keywords.