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Philip Green on Celia Birtwell for Topshop

Green explains Celia Birtwell's enduring appeal to the highstreet

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Mary Quant on Ossie Clark & Celia Birtwell

Quant describes this duo's designs as 'works of art'

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Celia Birtwell on designing for Quorum

Celia describes how her and Ossie came to design collections for Alice Pollack

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Celia Birtwell on her inspirations

The romaticism which Birtwell brought to Ossie Clark's designs

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Celia Birtwell on the design process

How Celia and Ossie Clark worked together

Celia Birtwell

Muse of David Hockney and wife and collaborator of Ossie Clark, Celia Birtwell has had a rollercoaster of a career, which has seen her go from the toast of the fashion world to obscurity and back again.

Birtwell is known for her acclaimed romantic and feminine designs, which provided the drama to Ossie Clark’s cutting patterns. Whilst Clark was chasing the glamour of the rock ‘n’ roll dream, Celia preferred to draw her influences from the classical world. She looked, in particular, to Leon Bakst’s costumes for the Ballet Russes, Picasso and Matisse. Ossie’s hedonistic and daring style combined with Celia’s delicate prints made the pair an unbeatable design team.

Key moments

  • 1941 Born in Bury, Lancashire
  • 1956-1960 Studied textile design at Salford School Of Art
  • 1961 Met Ossie Clark and started working with him and Alice Pollock for Quorum in Chelsea
  • 1965 Started to receive critical acclaim for her textile designs with Ossie
  • 1967 Meets David Hockney and becomes his muse
  • 1967-73 Ossie and Celia are the toast of the fashion industry and get married in 1969
  • 1975 Divorced Ossie Clark and retired from fashion to care for her two sons
  • Early 80s – taught at various colleges including Chelsea School of Art
  • 1984 With encouragement from David Hockney, Celia starts designing again and opens an interiors shop in Westbourne Park, London
  • 2003 Collaborated with the V&A for an ‘Ossie Clark’ exhibition
  • 2005-Present Collaborates with Topshop to create collections based on vintage designs
  • 2007 Wins Elle Decoration’s Style Awards for ‘fashion contribution to interiors’
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