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Celia Birtwell designs for JL

Mar '10
John Lewis has launched an exclusive womenswear collection by the iconic 1970s designer, Celia Birtwell.

The Celia Birtwell for John Lewis Women includes pussy-bow dresses, silk chiffon blouses and gypsy-tiered frocks inspired by the vintage designs of Birtwell and her late husband, Ossie Clarke.

Birtwell designed the prints while Clarke created the clothes – and between them they dressed some of the world's most glamorous people such as Bianca Jagger and Paloma Picasso.

An 'it' couple of their day, they are the subject of David Hockney's painting, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, which hangs in Tate Britain.

The womenswear team at John Lewis have worked with the designer to create exclusive product. 'Celia pulled out her sketchbooks from the 1970s,' says Juliette Toft, Buyer, JL Collection, womenswear.

The Buyer, who worked on the collection with Head of Buying, Womenswear, Jo Hooper, and designer Emma Cullen, continues: 'We chose prints together then Celia reworked them to make them workable in production.'

The design of the clothes are inspired by vintage Ossie Clarke while the womenswear team added more shapes, such as a tunic and the pussy-bow dress. 'Between us, we agreed what would make the range work,' says Juliette. 'It's almost as if the customer is buying a piece of archive history with these garments, but the collection has quite a broad appeal. It includes wearable shapes for women of all ages.'

John Lewis

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