In 1966, my favorite designer, Ossie Clark, discovered rolls of unused snakeskin sitting in a warehouse. One of his snakeskin jackets was exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2003.
Photo of 1967 jacket from the V&A
He gave one of the snakeskin jackets to a woman who worked for him, in lieu of cash, according to the story I was told. Ossie was never very good with money. The woman struck a dramatic pose while wearing the jacket and accompanied by her Afghan hounds.
Last year, I bought the jacket from the Afghan-owning lady. Tonight was the first time I wore it. Here I am striking a non-dramatic pose outside a drugstore with two uncooperative Pekingese.
While I was looking for photos of Ossie’s snakeskin work, I found an incredible site devoted to model Suki Potier. She dated two tragic ’60s icons: Guinness heir Tara Browne (the “he blew his mind out in a car” reference in the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life“) and Rolling Stone Brian Jones. Suki is third from the left in the following photo. On the far left is Linda Keith, Keith Richards’s girlfriend, who is wearing a snakeskin jacket and matching skirt.
Sadly, Suki and her husband Robert Ho died in a car accident in 1981. The person who did the Suki Potier site has done wonderful tributes to these other beautiful (and often tragic) ’60s It Girls:
- Donyale Luna. One of the first African-American cover girls, she appeared in a sketch on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 1965 and was shot by David Bailey for the cover of British Vogue in 1966. She was so hot that Time Magazine wrote about her in 1966. Yes, the word “Negro” was in use then, as you’ll notice in that article. Donyale died of an overdose in 1979. And here’s some info for all the angry fashionistas who repeatedly point out that current model Agyness Deyn changed her name: Donyale Luna was born Peggy Anne Freeman. Also, Twiggy‘s real name is Leslie Hornby; Cary Grant‘s real name was Archibald Leach; and John Wayne was born Marion Morrison. Get the fuck over it already!
- Kim Moon. The beautiful girl was only 17 when she married the Who’s drummer, Keith Moon, a few months before their daughter Mandy was born. Sadly, Kim died in a car accident last year. Her second husband, Ian McLagen, has a lovely memorial page for her here.
- Annette Walter-Lax. Keith Moon’s girlfriend after Kim left him. She was with him the night he died of an overdose of the drug meant to cure his craving for alcohol.
- Anita Pallenberg. She was with Keith Richards for many years (they had three children together; one died soon after birth) and, surprisingly, lived to tell about it. She appeared in Performance and Barbarella, among other films.
- Linda Keith. Before Keith was with Anita, he was with Linda. The song “Ruby Tuesday” was written for her. Miraculously, she is another survivor, married to musician/producer John Porter.
- Krissy Wood. She met future Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood when she was just 16, thought they didn’t marry till seven years later. She died in 2005 at the age of 57.
- Talitha Getty. Beautiful, wealthy and addicted to drugs, the wife of John Paul Getty died of a heroin overdose in 1971. Her influence is felt in fashion to this day, in part due to an iconic photo of her taken by Patrick Lichfield on a rooftop in Morocco. Her red crepe evening dress by Ossie Clark was part of the V&A’s Ossie exhibition in 2003.
Read Suzy Menkes’s story on the 2003 Ossie Clark exhibit here.
And here’s one more hard-partying It Girl for the road: Jo Jo Laine.