Sunday 08 November 1998
Women wanted to wear his clothes because they were flattering. Ossie had an instinctive knowledge of cut. Towards the end of his life, he used his rare talents to teach Bella Freud and to help Tanya Sarne at Ghost. This work helped to pay the rent on his council flat.
What's tragic about his life is not so much his terrible murder, but the fact that someone who had been a fashion legend was allowed to wither away, penniless, in the Eighties and Nineties. Had he been born French, the House of Ossie Clark would no doubt still be alive today, even if its designer were not. In Paris, design talent is nurtured and developed.
It is only in the past few years that British fashion has been taken seriously here, but there is still precious little in the way of backers or financial support for small fashion businesses. Look at how John Galliano had to struggle in the Eighties, with only the faith of his customers and Browns of South Molton Street to keep him going. In the end, he had to move to Paris, to a Moroccan backer, Faycal Amor, to keep his business afloat. Now he is secure in the hands of French businessman Bernard Arnault and the House of Dior. It is hard to imagine a British equivalent having such confidence in any designer.
One of Clark's contemporaries, Antony Price, is another unsung hero. In Paris, Price would give Thierry Mugler a run for his money. Instead, the designer who dressed Roxy Music and Jerry Hall in the Seventies continues his couture service, with a list of loyal clients - many of them French - who swear by his clothes. His is a unique talent that gets little of the support and backing it deserves.
The irony is, of course, that the royalties from The Ossie Clark Diaries might have saved the designer from bankruptcy in 1983. But no one would have been interested in publishing them, much less reading them, had he still been alive. In Britain, great talent has to die, it seems, before we will recognise it. And that really is tragic. !
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins gives rare glimpse of sensitive side with heartfelt open letter to her children penned in case she dies from epilepsy
- 2 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP