Freddie Hornik: Bespoke tailor to the rock aristocracy of the Seventies

In the early Seventies, many rock stars patronised the Granny Takes a Trip boutiques in New York, Los Angeles and London's Chelsea run by the tailor and clothes designer Freddie Hornik, in partnership with the New Yorkers Gene Krell and Marty Breslau. In 1969, the triumvirate took over the business previously owned by its founders John Pearse, Nigel Waymouth and Sheila Cohen, who no longer seemed to know how to cater for the hip clientèle they had attracted in the mid-Sixties. Hornik, still had his finger on the pulse thanks to his involvement with Dandie, the appropriately named London clothes shop based in Kensington Mews and on the King's Road.

Adding branches in New York and Los Angeles, Granny Takes a Trip became bespoke tailors to the rock aristocracy. In 1972, Lou Reed wore their black velvet and rhinestone suit on the cover of his Transformer album, Todd Rundgren modelled Hornik's sequined bolero jacket on the back of the gatefold sleeve to Something/Anything? and Mick Jagger sported a tartan velvet jacket from Granny's on the inside of the Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St. The following year, the soul singer Ronald Isley wore a Hornik jacket on the front of the Isley Brothers' 3+3 and, in 1974, Elton John sported a tiger-stripe jacket with a Granny's designer label – allegedly sewn on by shop assistant Roger Klein, who had bought the item second-hand – on the cover of Caribou.

Keith Richards, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Jimmy Page and Paul McCartney wore Hornik creations on stage and on television but the prohibitive prices that the boutiques charged meant that only the wealthy could afford to shop at Granny's. By the mid-Seventies, Hornik was feuding with Krell and Breslau and the business collapsed. Having been immortalised in many photographs and films like Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same, however, original clothes from Granny's have become sought-after collector's items displayed at Hard Rock Cafés around the world.

Born Alfred Charles Walter Hornik in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1944, he was taken to Austria by his widowed mother and grandmother at the end of the Second World War. Three years later, they came to London to stay with relatives and his mother remarried. Hornik was a sickly child, in and out of hospital, which affected his schooling. Apprenticed as a junior cutter with Robert Taylor in Tooting, and then Jackson's of Oxford Street, he so impressed the staff that he was promoted, soon rising to credit manager. In the mid-Sixties he teamed up with Alan Holston, John Crittle and the Guinness heir Tara Browne – immortalized by the Beatles in "A Day in the Life" after dying in a car crash in 1966 – to launch Dandie. In 1968, the Beatles invested in the venture, which briefly became Apple Tailoring, until their manager Allen Klein decided to rein in the Fab Four's profligacy.

Opened in 1966, Granny Takes a Trip had been one of the "in" shops during the Swinging London era, along with I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet in Portobello Road and Carnaby Street. By 1969, the partners had run out of fashions from the past to recycle and gladly accepted Kornik's offer. The driving force behind the relaunch, Hornik showed his staff how to take measurements the old-fashioned way – a dozen for the jacket and five for the trousers – and transformed the old stock of satin, silk and velvet suits with the addition of appliqué motifs. He took inspiration from Nudie Cohn, the "Rodeo Tailor", whose trademark suits were and embroidered with beads, rhinestone and sequins.

His timely reinvention of Granny's took off with the advent of glam-rock. Marc Bolan, Roxy Music, Mick Ronson and Queen began shopping at the Chelsea branch, not only buying clothes but also footwear, as Hornik brought the shoemakers Costas of Tooting under the same roof (they made the stack-heeled boots worn by Joe Cocker at Woodstock in 1969). The opening of Granny's outlets in Manhattan and Hollywood should have proved the icing on the cake with a client list now including Alice Cooper, Keith Moon, Graham Nash and Ricky Nelson too, but it created tensions between Krell, Breslau and Hornik. Hornik's penchant for drugs only compounded the problems and the London shop closed at the end of 1974.

He vanished from the scene and later drove mini-cabs before retiring due to ill health. When interviewed by fashion historians, he displayed an amazingly detailed recollection and still possessed the outrageous sense of humour he had been famous for.

Pierre Perrone

Alfred Charles Walter Hornik, tailor, clothes designer: born Brno, Czechoslovakia 19 January 1944; died London 19 February 2009.

Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus updates from Everton vs Palace
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
peopleActress tells men: 'It's your issue too'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam