“Whatever else clothes may be about, I believe they must add to the enjoyment of life. A dress is a failure unless it gives a woman added confidence. She must put it on, feel great, and then forget that she is wearing it and get on with her life.”
This quote from the designer Thea Porter opened the recent exhibition of her work at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum. Selling from a boutique on Greek Street in Soho that she had decorated to resemble Aladdin’s cave, Porter drew her inspiration from an exotic view of the Middle East and dressed many well-known musicians and film stars from the late 1960s to the 1980s. Despite her far-flung design influences, London was the heart of Porter’s life and career and it was here that she became a part of a renaissance in British fashion design.
The LCF Archives hold a full-length black velvet Thea Porter Couture evening dress, donated by the family of Ann Barr who was Features Editor of Harpers & Queen in the 1970s and 80s. The beautiful velvet fabric has a watered-silk effect and the dress features gold brocade trim round the bodice and neckline. This dress currently hangs in my office at London College of Fashion, only a few streets away from where Porter’s shop once welcomed the bohemian women of London.