One of the most talented fashion designers in the early Seventies was Ossie Clark, who had first made his sartorial mark in the previous decade. Celia Birtwell, his then wife designed all the individual prints for his well-cut clothes, which were guaranteed to make any woman look svelte and glamorous. (Celia now designs clothes with her archives prints for Top Shop). Ossie's fashion shows were held in theatrical venues like the Royal Court Theatre, where all of fashionable London would 'see and be seen'. He had a loyal stable of exotic models, one of whom was Amanda Lear. Rumour had it she was a transsexual – people say she invented that rumour to make herself appear even more interesting than she already was. She was an inspiration for "Frantic", my novel set in the early Seventies. ‘Then the first mannequin, a convincing sex change stalked the spot lit catwalk, proudly draped in a Cedrick bow which seemed bigger than the Eiffel Tower. The bow was so enormous, that all could be seen of the mannequin was a pair of pink lips. However, when the creature swished around, wiggling its spine at the audience, fashion Industry pundits were delighted to see clusters of lip shaped bows cascading down onto the floor in one full, Mermaid tail swoop.’
Amanda Lear had a colourful CV, which included a stint as a one-time muse to Salvador Dali. In the later Seventies, she metamorphosed into an international disco queen, and got married too. Before then, I couldn’t resist playing a trick on Amanda, and invented a character called Jet Spray Cooler in my column. Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Vile Bodies’ inspired me to become a gossip columnist after I first read it. I loved the bit about 'Mr Chatterbox' inventing a green bowler as the latest fashion accessory in his column. Following his example, I repeatedly wrote that the fictitious Jet Spray was Amanda’s biggest admirer and was desperate to meet her. Amanda wanted to know who this Jet Spray Cooler character was? I invented a wild story, telling her he was a rock ‘n’ roll superstar.
‘If he’s a superstar, why haven’t I heard of him, darling?” Amanda wanted to know.
‘He’s only famous in LA,’ I fibbed.
‘But, when am I going to meet this Jet Spray?’ Amanda kept asking me.
‘You’re never in the same city at the same time,’ I fabricated.
In the end, I got fed up with having to fob Amanda off all the time and confessed that Jet Spray Cooler didn’t exist. She was disappointed, but took it quite well.
Amanda Lear wasn't the only model who loved Ossie. His flattering costumes made his models look super-sensational, and they all adored him for it. When he appeared on stage after his latest collection at one of his spectacular fashion shows, his models threw themselves at him. It’s a tragedy that he died before he could carry out his promise to me. From the moment I met him in David Hockney’s basement, he promised he would make my wedding dress when I got married. But, he did give me a sexy black negligee. It could easily have doubled up as a convincing evening gown, but his exquisite creation was perfect for a honeymoon.
Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006