Shirt designed by Deborah Clare, worn by Brian.
A white shirt with granddad collar, decorative lace panel to front, collar and cuffs, zip fastening to back, label inside Deborah Clare, owned by Brian Jones circa. 1968 - Sold for £1750.
Deborah&Clare were shirtmakers based in Beauchamp Place, London SW3 from 1965-1975.
Deborah and Clare broke into the all male world of bespoke shirtmaking in 1965 with naive bravado. Until this time custom-made men’s shirts were largely the preserve of Jermyn Street catering to a traditional elite.
The shop soon became known for contemporary design within the classic art of shirtmaking. Sample books of fine English shirtings sat reassuringly on the desk alongside more sensual cloths from the collections of Europe’s most sophisticated textile manufacturers.
Deborah Wood and Clare Bewicke set up business together as designers in 1965, working from a condemned basement in Walton Street, Chelsea. Observing a general lack of innovation in men’s clothes they moved into the specialised field of custom-made shirts, using a Greek shirtmaker in London’s East End.
A visit to New York in 1967 produced an offer of backing from Ahmet Ertigan to open a London shop, but his pre-requisite that the shop also carried the entire range of Levi jeans was dismissed as “much too serious,” and the eventual backing came from David Astor.
Shirtmakers trained in Jermyn Street were found after a lengthy search. Andy and Annie Mullins, who had between them the vital skills of Cutter and Collar-maker. “It’s two girls on the game,” Andy told his wife “making shirts as a cover up.” Alan Holston, poached from Dandy Fashions in Kings Road became the popular manager. The shop was designed by David Mlinaric, and opened in December 1967. Terracotta walls with putty-coloured paintwork were the backdrop for polished glass shelves of stock shirts and racks of cloth. It was a cave of colour, and No 29 Beauchamp Place became one of the trendiest venues in London, attracting a global clientele of all persuasion.
Deborah sold out to Clare in 1973, and Clare left the business in 1975.
Deborah, as head designer of clothes and textiles played a leading role in the Laura Ashley story for ten years from 1978. Clare trained as a polarity therapist and went on to practice in the world of complementary medicine.