Pushing the Style Envelope
STAMP collecting may not have a reputation as the most fashionable of hobbies – but that could be set to change. Britain’s fashion designers are renowned worldwide for their quirky creativity and the stunning fabrics they use. Now that work is being showcased in a new release by the Royal Mail. Ten first class stamps are being issued to celebrate more than seven decades of groundbreaking British fashion, featuring the work of some of the country’s best known, most loved and, sometimes controversial, designers.
The set displays British fashion at its very best – from the post-war period with the classic styles of Norman Hartnell, dress designer to the Queen through to the groundbreaking tailoring of the likes of the late Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. Inspired by the success of its Mary Quant stamp, which featured Quant’s daring 1960s mini skirt, the Royal Mail has put together this new collection of Great British Fashion stamps. Each stamp features an iconic image of one designer’s work. There’s a Vivienne Westwood dress modelled by Naomi Campbell in 1993 and a suit created by Saville Row tailor Tommy Nutter especially for Beatle Ringo Star.
Models hand picked by the Royal Mail took part in a two-day fashion shoot in London to create the collection. Fittingly for the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and as Kate Middleton fever continues worldwide, two of the stamps celebrate the connection between the British Royal Family and British fashion designers. Hardy Amies was the Queen’s official dress maker for half a century while Norman Hartnell also received a Royal Warrant to dress the Queen, who was often photographed wearing designs from both fashion houses.
There are also tributes to the role which swinging 1960s London played in the development of British fashion, with images of John Pearse, Ossie Clark and Tommy Nutter designs. Pearse was the co-owner of Granny Takes a Trip, a psychedelic boutique in Chelsea, while Clark is credited with having influenced a raft of top contemporary designers and Nutter is the father of reinvention, having brought the Saville Row suit back into favour, attracting famous customers like Mick Jagger and Elton John.
One of Jean Muir’s 1980s designs is featured on the sixth stamp. She started her career in a solicitor’s office before working in Liberty’s and finally creating her own fashion label, which has been worn by Joanna Lumley and Dame Maggie Smith. Zandra Rhodes, immediately recognisable for her pink hair, has a stamp featuring her 1980s gold dress while Dame Vivienne Westwood, widely credited with bringing punk fashion to the masses, isn’t forgotten, with a stamp showing her signature Harlequin dress.
Finally Paul Smith and the late Alexander McQueen both have stamps devoted to them. Smith opened his first shop in the 1970s and now has showrooms across the world while McQueen, who was originally a chief designer at Givenchy, founded his own label and was named British Designer of the Year four times. So stylish that the Royal Mail is selling specially framed editions of this set, these stamps will look great on your wall, or just on your envelopes.
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