Clark, Ossie [Raymond Oswald]
- M. B. Whitaker
(b Liverpool, June 9, 1942; d London, Aug 8, 1996).
English fashion designer. Clark revolutionized London fashion for young women during the pivotal transition from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, embracing the youth movement of the ‘Swinging Sixties’ and the raucous and reckless spirit of the drug-riddled 1970s. He and his wife, textile designer Celia Birtwell (b 1941), collaborated to create boldly printed, sexy evening wear and well-tailored yet feminine sportswear (see fig.). Their work was sold at the London boutique Quorum until its close in 1975.
Born Raymond Oswald Clark to a working-class family in Liverpool, Clark was raised in northern England in Oswaldtwistle—his family’s ancestral village, to which he owed his middle name. Granted a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London, Clark was a star fashion design student. British Vogue featured the young mastermind in August 1965 at the age of 23. He entered into a business partnership with Alice Pollock and they opened the boutique Quorum, which was distinctive for its range of products: dresses, trousers, suits, coats, sweaters, stockings and accessories. That Clark was designing much of what the boutique sold speaks to his vast skill set and artistic vision. His innovative cutting and draping techniques and experimental use of different fabrics made him capable of producing slinky, often bias-cut, jersey gowns with plunging necklines but also expertly tailored suits. The contribution of his talented wife’s textiles added to the depth of his opus. Birtwell’s nature-inspired prints were both striking and romantic (...