Artist/designer Simon Haynes has allowed me access to some of the treasures in his archive. Over the next few weeks I’ll be dipping into it and presenting a selection of artworks, display items, stage sets and graphics he has created over the years.
Herb Schmitz’s lost London demi-monde: City Lights Studio, Yvonne Gold, Katharine Hamnett, Ika Hindley, Piggy, Barbara Trentham, Marrion Womble et al
Herb Schmitz proudly describes himself as a photojournalist.
From the start of his career in London in the late 60s, the Dusseldorf-born Schmitz has turned an unerring eye to all manner of subject matter: seascapes,Turkish gangsters, the WW2 head of the Polish government in exile, the social scene in latterday Shoreditch (where he has operated a studio for more than 25 years)…
In the wake of a recent exhibition at Amsterdam’s Unseen Photo Fair, Schmitz has opened his archive of early 70s fashion photography for me, revealing images of a lost London demi-monde clad by such hallowed enterprises as City Lights Studio (the Covent Garden boutique operated by the subject of my latest book, Tommy Roberts) and Katherine Hamnett’s label Tuttabankem.
Thanks to Julian Morey for alerting me to these splendid photographs of Paul Smith designer Derek Morton in clothes from the company’s autumn/winter 2011 collection.
Morton has worked with Smith since the mid-70s and is currently head of the label’s menswear division for Japan.
A thoroughly nice chap, Morton is also self-deprecating and reserved, as I discovered when I interviewed him recently for the Tommy Roberts book (he designed menswear for Roberts’ extraordinary Covent Garden outlet City Lights Studio).
Photoshoot for the Tommy Roberts book: Mr Freedom winged boots, City Lights Studio suit, Practical Styling carrier bag, Jane Wealleans’ fabric print and much much more
Here’s a sneak iPhone peak from yesterday’s photoshoot for my forthcoming book about Tommy Roberts.
Tommy’s son and accomplished photographer/cameraman Keith set up a studio in a room at his furniture emporium Two Columbia Road and shot around 50-plus garments and artefacts to go with the 300-odd images already planned for the book.
I snapped these on my phone in downtime; forgive the quality – hopefully they convey the flavour of the exercise.
Keith photographed a cornucopia of goodies, including two pairs of Mr Freedom’s famous winged boots, a carrier bag for Tommy’s 80s shop Practical Styling, a suit from his 70s boutique City Lights Studio (lent to us by another design hero Lloyd Johnson) and much more besides.
I am currently working with Tommy Roberts on a book about his life and career in fashion. Tommy has been assembling a selection of anecdotes and stories which will feature as occasional tasters here over the coming months.
This reminiscence stems from the period in the early 70s when Tommy operated City Lights Studio. Situated at 54 Shorts Gardens WC2 with a darkly glamorous interior design realised by Electric Colour Company’s Andrew Greaves + Jeffrey Pine, City Lights was the first fashion store in London’s Covent Garden, the neighbourhood then dominated by the capital’s fruit and veg market.
City Lights Studio, which came into being at the end of 1972, was a fashion emporium I created in tandem with Willy Daly, a colleague and friend since we had worked together at Mr Freedom.
City Lights was situated in an imposing high-ceilinged loft atop a building in Covent Garden. Our studio designed, wholesaled and retailed an extremely stylish and tasty array of men’s and women’s wear, shoes, hats, jewellery and other fashion accessories.
For this story I’m concentrating on the menswear.