22 February 1974. PARIS PARIS PARIS..Dinner with Andy Warhol with David. Buffet rather than a fizzle. Johnny was the hit. Paloma Picasso in an "after Schiaparelli" dress. Yves, Loulou, Nikki, Lagerfeld. Drank too much champagne--David happy."
Ossie Clark was the
fashion designer of the Sixties--flamboyant, creative, ethereally beautiful--famed for his snakeskin jackets and feminine, gorgeously romantic dresses. His clothes were all exquisitely cut and fitted in Swinging London by the boy from Cheshire who had always loved to draw--his clients included Mick and Bianca Jagger, Marianne Faithfull and Eric Clapton. Together with his wife, Celia Birtwell, who designed many of the fabrics used to make his clothes, Ossie was among the darlings of the social elite. He and Celia were immortalised in hip artist David Hockney's 1971 painting Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy
. A gift to Ossie from Hockney, it was later sold to the Tate Gallery in London in order to finance a house purchase.
Money--the having of it, spending of it, and, ultimately, the lack of it, dominated Ossie's life. A star in the glamorous fashion world of the Sixties, Ossie lived life to the hilt; his lovers included both men and women; his address book was littered with starry contacts--he was, in short, a jet-setter. His explosive diary is full of name-droppings, delicious gossip and, as the years pass, despair. His marriage to Celia foundered over his numerous infidelities, his lack of business sense forced him into bankruptcy, and he could no longer channel his huge talent beyond a few commissions and false hopes and promises. He ended his days in a London council flat which he shared with his boyfriend, who, high on amphetemines one August night in 1996, battered the former icon of fashion to death.
The Ossie Clark Diaries,carefully edited by his friend Henrietta Rous, cover four decades, concentrating mainly on the years from 1974 to 1996. A visual feast, the original diaries were written in different coloured inks, several pages of which are reproduced in the book along with black-and-white photographs of Ossie, his designs, and his friends and patrons over the years. They are immediate, hilarious, and bleak by turns--and superbly capture the spirit of the man and his outrageous times. --Catherine Taylor