Locks, stock and apparel: The Belle Stars' former singer now sells pristine Sixties fashion to collectors, says Tony Marcus

Two decades of fashion collide inside Dredd Experience, a tiny shop in the West End of London. An Ossie Clark black crepe nightgown fit for a vampire queen hangs next to some neatly pressed denim safari suits from the Seventies; matching hippie smocks and flares in wildly embroidered chiffon nuzzle up against a rack of Sixties slimfit button-down shirts.

'Clothes are so romantic, dude, I love them,' gushes Jennie Mathias, the shop's energetic proprietor. Zipped into a fluffball of fake fur, with thick dreadlocks peeping from under a dippy patchwork hat, she gestures enthusiastically around a shop stuffed with relics of yesterday's youth culture. 'Clothes are collector's items,' she says. 'It's the same as records.'

A few streets away from Dredd Experience is another shop, Acupuncture, selling vintage punk and Vivienne Westwood originals for prices that rise well into the hundreds. Mathias's prices are more modest, with Fiorucci 'Love Boots' (lurid designer wellies which have to be seen to be believed) selling for less than pounds 30.

Twelve years ago, Jennie Mathias was better known as Jennie Belle Star, lead singer of the Belle Stars, an all-girl, seven-piece pop group. They had a big hit with the anthemic 'Sign of The Times', and toured Europe with The Clash; Jennie Belle Star was a fully-fledged pop star. Why did it end?

She gives me the sort of look that says she could have done without the question. 'We were all sick of each other. Three Virgos and four Leos in one band? You know what I mean?'

And how did she end up running a fashion shop? 'What else could I do?' she retorts. 'I couldn't think of anything else. I'm only into music and fashion, I know nothing about anything else.'

After the Belle Stars, she spent 10 years organising fashion shows in the Miami nightclub owned by Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, performing at European jazz festivals and finally finding herself just an ex-pop star. 'I spent a couple of years living in London squats wanting to be a hobo. I just dossed around and couldn't really decide what I wanted to do.

'I hadn't grown up really; I was still looking for something good to do. I tried to hold down a couple of ordinary jobs but it wasn't really me.'

Her story is interrupted, first by an immaculate scooter boy who slides off his Lambretta and comes in to ask about suede bowling shoes and Fred Perry shirts, then by a small-time clothes dealer with a bag full of what Mathias calls 'deadstock': pristine items that have spent the past 20 years in a warehouse. She is hungry for this 'good- as-new' vintage wear, and has already found Seventies police jackets and Eighties silk shirts in fragile, stained-glass colours.

The good-as-new relics aside, the most popular stock in Dredd Experience is a range of new jackets and coats co-produced by Matthias and her sidekick Terry Rawlings. The label is called Harry Palmer, in honour of the working- class spy played by Michael Caine in the film The Ipcress File, and reflects that character's cool, sharply tailored mod style.

The range has been endorsed by the singer and mod icon Paul Weller, who offered the designers tips on early Sixties style details. A standout Harry Palmer item is a three-quarter-length coat in green suede with shiny black leather trimming and a silk lining.

'It's very sharp stuff - spot on,' says Tony Jackson, whose company, Global Village, has just finished shooting a promotional film for the range. You might call it Reservoir Mods - clean-cut Vespa-riding boys in shiny Palmer coats wielding sub-machine-guns.

'A lot of people dress down these days,' says Jackson, 'but Harry Palmer represents the England of yore and the heroes we're sort of attached to: sharp-suited Englishmen drinking double Scotches and toting machine-guns.'

Mathias is also drawn to the dandified 'mod' styles. Forget the tabloid image of mods as bank holiday rioters and amphetamine addicts (the name 'mod' is derived from the stylistically distinctive young followers of modern jazz); for her they were ice-cool super-narcissists striving for immaculate street fashion.

'But this isn't just a shop for classic mods,' she says. 'I'm branching out to reach the psychedelic phase of the Sixties and chase it through to the looks of Marc Bolan, Eno, Bowie and the early Seventies.'

What is the right tag for this diverse gathering of mod, hippie and glam styles? We exchange a few suggestions, such as my 'Nineties Beatnik' - and she reaches for a notebook and a pen and starts jotting down some things I have said.

I am the one who is doing the interview: what is she up to?

'I write poetry - it's the only way I can relax,' she explains. 'I say goodnight to my mum, go to my bedroom and sit writing before I go to sleep. I pick up on stuff that happens during the day.'

She adds: 'I don't treat conversation lightly. I use it to my best advantage.'

Dredd Experience, 20 Hanway Street, London W1 (071-636 6502).

(Photograph omitted)

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
i100
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Employment Solicitor

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

    Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

    £600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

    Commercial Litigation Associate

    Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

    Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

    £65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little