Daily Mail


They were a trademark of the 1970s. Now back in fashion, the design guru’s maxis have been given a 2019 twist

- by Hanna Woodside

WITh their wide, floaty sleeves and long, swishy skirts, nothing captures the free- spirited, boho style of the late Sixties and early Seventies quite like an Ossie clark dress.

Sexy, feminine, romantic — the late designer really knew how to create a flattering silhouette on a woman.

Those flowing maxis in gauzy chiffon and flamboyant florals evoke nostalgia for the days when Ossie was still the ‘King of the King’s Road’ and dressed the rich and famous, including Bianca Jagger, Pattie Boyd and Marianne Faithfull. With his wife, the textile designer celia Birtwell, Ossie helped define the aesthetic of their era.

And now that this aesthetic is back in fashion, one savvy designer has revived the Ossie clark look. Reimaginin­g his designs for 2019, Anna Park, founder of British label Primrose Park, has taken the iconic shapes from clark’s archive and fused them with modern prints to create the Ossie clark x Primrose Park collection.

Anna, a fashion buyer with more than two decades of industry experience under her belt, founded her first boutique, Anna, in Norfolk in 1994. A second in London’s Primrose hill soon followed, and then label Primrose Park was born.

Anna’s aim has always been to encourage women to embrace colour and print regardless of their age, so working with clark’s styles was a gift. ‘They suit any age and shape,’ she says. ‘You don’t have to be tall or slim. Most pieces in the range work for all sizes. I want women to feel confident and sexy, without being self-conscious and uncomforta­ble.’

She’S nailed her own brief. Take the Loopy Lou — not your bog- standard floral midi. Ossie’s unique cut works hard: the slit neckline can be tied together or left open, and an adjustable tie belt knots at the back to accentuate the waist.

The puff in the elbow-length sleeves is just the right side of Bo Peep. ‘Many women hate showing their arms, so we try to put sleeves on most dresses,’ says Anna. It comes in three prints, including a delicate black- and- white floral on red (pictured).

There’s enough fabric to drape nicely, but not so much as to make it tent-like. ‘I love that you can wear it loose and floaty, then tie it back and create a totally different silhouette,’ adds Anna.

But it’s the Ophelia dress (pictured) that she’s most proud of — a showstoppi­ng emerald floral maxi with fluted sleeves and a snake-print detail. It’s vintage without being over-the-top.

‘I’m 54 and I never feel like I’m in fancy dress with the collection,’ assures Anna.

‘I feel sexy and comfortabl­e when I wear it, which is not an easy thing to achieve!’

The collection’s separates have the potential to be styled more casually. The tiered Florrie skirt can be combined with the matching crepe top (both pictured) for a maximalist look, but strikes a wholly different note when worn with a basic T-shirt and trainers.

Meanwhile, the Sonnet blouse with subtle blouson sleeves is best paired with high-waisted flared jeans, or tailored wide-leg trousers. Add a serious heel and you’ve got an outfit that’s sharp and cool, rather than soft and dreamy.

It comes in a blush-pink leopard

print as well as the floral green design pictured. A gentler colour palette is a good gateway into pattern if you’re a bit wary, says Anna. ‘Start with softer colours — pale pinks and blues work for most women — and choose a small, ditzy print. Then work up to bold abstract patterns in bright colours. You always want to feel that you are wearing the print, rather than the print wearing you.’

But if you’re already a full-on print fanatic and want to ramp up the drama for an event, the full-length Milkway dress (pictured) in a luxurious silk chiffon is the one for you. It has flowing sleeves and a ruffled cape detail in leopard print. Diaphanous, delicate but, most importantl­y, fun, it demands to be danced in. Ossie would approve. Shane Watson returns next week.

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