60S DOO-WOP: OLYMPIA LE-TAN AND RONNIE SPECTOR
Formerly of kitsch hand-bag fame, this is just Olympia Le Tan‘s second season of presenting clothes. In the press notes Olympia, everyone’s favourite French-English socialite describes her collection, titled 7", her "little history of black music, from jazz and blues to the girls bands of Phil Spector‘s wall of sound." The girl groups being the formative influence on this collection, that was presented as part of MADE Fashion Week, and the fun-packed riot that was the perfomance. Each look was worn by a girl who entered center-stage, picked out by a white spotlight, miming and dancing along to a different soul-girl classic by artists such as the Shirelles, The Chiffons and The Marvelettes. It ended with a 69 year old Ronnie Spector (yes, it was her!) walking onstage and treating the gathered fashion editors and buyers to a rousing rendition of her hit, Be My Baby.
The collection was directly influenced by the matching outfits the 60s girl groups wore, often in pink or featuring stripes, this collection was stripe heavy too. Olympia’s father Pierre Le-Tan designed four fabric prints – the Magic Box, the Secret Garden, a hand drawn tartan and a stripe motif composed of twirling ribbons for Olympia’s own girl bands to wear. There were shorts, a halter neck dress and a pencil skirt all in matching fabrics, silks, linens and an incredibly soft satin cotton. And it says in the notes "a lot of seersucker because a summer collection needs a lot of seersucker."
Those girl groups weren’t just an entertaining choice of reference, it was also an interesting pitch on female sexuality, the way those mini-skirted girl groups presented themselves might have caused many a male stirring, but they were always ladylike, innocent, such was the prerequisite of girl groups of the day. Olympia insisted on keeping her collection so too, because "the women who buy the book-clutches should be able to dress in Olympia Le-Tan too." What’s more, showing the clothes on dancing girls big of breast and curvy of hip, though still with legs and stomachs to die for, was a definite one in the eye to those who believe fashion can only ever look it’s best on size zero models. Olympia is confident at least in her ability to design clothes for the real women.
As well as the book-clutches, Olympia presented three new bag styles: the "Little 45", a square box-clutch with embroidered reproductions of jazz and blues record covers, a tiny handle, suede sides and Liberty print insides, a 7" bag, and for the DJs, an alligator square leather bag with a brass handle where you can actually put your 7" vinyls, and a Macaron bag, a round clutch with brass sides, with embroidered reproductions of vinyl labels.
Everyone leaving the Olympia Le-Tan show was smiling and looking as happy as the girls in the clothes did on stage, thank you Olympia Le-Tan, life is too short for another boring fashion show. And besides having fun will never be unfashionable.
Photography by Ami Sioux