Nights on the Wild Side

Posted by Liz
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Curl up in satin: Dusty pink nightdress with wide bishop's sleeves caught into elasticated cuffs from Biba. Christian, cuddly lion cub came from Sophisto-cat, 475 Kings Road, SW10.



Beware the man-hunting feline! Some stalk their prey in the jungle; others play pussy at home in lounging lingerie that clings and ripples with the same cat-like grace. Our lingerie isn't meant for lonely evenings - put it on when you're planning to pounce, and if he doesn't, then get another cat for company!

Purrfect loungewear editorial from 1970, featuring a whole host of luscious boutique gowns from Biba, Bus Stop and Janet Reger - and, most excitingly of all, Christian the Lion. Christian's story began in 1969 when he was born in Ilfracombe Zoo in Devon, South West England and was rejected by his mother. Harrods Department store bought Christian and his sister as a publicity stunt; at this time (hard to believe from a modern perspective) there were few restrictions on owning exotic or endangered animals in the UK. Two Australians, Ace Bourke and John Rendall, visited Harrods later that year and, on a whim, bought the cub and named him Christian.

This photoshoot credits 'Sophistocat', the antique furniture shop where Bourke and Rendall lived and worked, and where Christian happily lived in the basement for a year. He was regularly walked along the King's Road and around a private garden for exercise, and as you can see here he was sometimes used for photoshoots. By coincidence, as he was beginning to outgrow his environment and cause a few concerns for Bourke and Rendall, a solution presented itself: Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers (stars of the film Born Free and Wildlife campaigners in their own right) visited the shop and offered to assist in getting Christian released into the wild.

Several documentary films and books were made about his story, the most famous of which is the reunion between Bourke, Rendall and Christian, a year after they last saw each other and during Christian's introduction into the wild. His clear recognition of them, and their emotional response to seeing him again, continues to affect and inspire people over forty years later.

"He's travelled from the wrong end of the King's Road in London, to the start of the right road in Africa". Virginia McKenna.


Photographed by Stuart Brown. Vanity Fair, April 1970. 


Retire for a catnap! Copper Dacron and satin negligee set by Janet Reger.



Prowl about in flowered voile: Black and red 'butterfly' print dress with wild trailing sleeves by Bus Stop.



Slink in clingy cotton jersey: Deep blue jersey at-home dress with a low, plunging neckline by Bus Stop.

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