October 18, 2011

Fashion Designer Focus: Ossie Clark

More articles by »
Written by: Recultured Team
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The memory of the 60s shall forever remain the decade of revolution and change. And this was certainly not amiss in the fashion world. English fashion designer Ossie Clark swung the sixties into geometric patterned-dresses with short hemlines—the foundation for the miniskirt— which, in short, was called the Hoopla dress. Though this was an iconic fashion piece of the sixties, Ossie Clark exceeded expectations with his versatility and experimentation into a variety of fabrics, techniques, cuts, and patterns which has overall etched his name down in fashion history.

During the zenith of his career, which hit from 1965 till 1974, Ossie Clark’s flamboyant clothing were all the rage, with many famous clients—including Mick Jagger and Elizabeth Taylor—and iconic fashion figure Twiggy.

Not only was his Hoopla dress legendary, but he has proven to be more versatile, not only with design technique and cut, but also experimenting with the use of fabrics and patterns. Clark used a variety of fabrics, and these were no ordinary fabrics. Ossie Clark introduced snakeskin and leather—most associated with Mick Jagger. While this displayed his edginess, his romantic chiffon dresses would float lightly and romantically on the runways. But never straying too far from his edgy and daring side (no doubt with the scandals of his drug-use, depression—which eventually led to the bankruptcy and downfall of his business), he kept deep and plunging necklines, figure-hugging crepe dresses, and swirling skirts.

His versatility did not only stay with design—Ossie Clark was never afraid to experiment, even with material. While he was noted to use sensuous and luxurious fabrics such as satin, chiffon, georgette, crepe, and clinging jersey, he also used exotic materials such as snakeskin and fur. The cuts and techniques also ranged from billowing sleeves with huge cuffs to short tasseled sleeves and elbow-length, tight-fitted sleeves over full long-sleeved blouses.

Image Courtesy of

While the geometric patterns—particularly the trellis-like squares on fabric—were largely fostered in his sharp edgy designs; he romanticized the 1940s ‘tarts’ look using figure-hugging or low-cut black crepe or morocain dress with embroidered or printed floral patterns, or would even glamorize a dress with sequins, and a snakeskin coat lined with fur.

With such a range, it was almost difficult to define his style. Nonetheless, his name has been etched forever in fashion history as he audaciously played with fabrics, patterns, cuts and techniques. He redefined not only women’s shape, but also (symbolically) her sexual freedom, confidence and strength, without losing the touch of femininity.

Although the immense success of his career was relatively short-lived having ended in bankruptcy, he remains to be bold and legendary designer. Ossie Clark was no doubt a highly cherished and sought after, and continues to be an inspiration for fashion today.

Featured Image Courtesy of

About the Author

Recultured Team
Recultured Team
This is where you'll find the blog posts that the team has contributed to collectively! What team? Wildcats! -Nope, wrong team. Recultured!

  • Devin Rose

    Why can’t everyone dress now like they did in the 50s and 60s?!

  • Owni Toma

    Had no idea ossie was so influential. Thanks for catching us up with all the references to pop culture! 

  • Now I know what hoopla skirts look like! =) I actually have 2 cotton hoopla skirts (one pink and one black) sitting in my drawer. I don’t wear them anymore but I remember they were quite a fad in ’04/’05. They look like this, right?

Read previous post:
Webevision to Watch

Generally, when I return to my house after a long day of learning, I turn on my computer and peruse...