The New Look in Ethnic Fashion

Posted by Laura
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Aztec patterned Arabian wrapping: silk robe of pink/grey stripes and print, skirt split into four panels. Matching scarf wrapping head. Embroidered silk bag on long cord. All by Basile. Suede/silver leather evening sandals, at Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. / Javanese print layers: crossover blouse and loose trousers in vivid stripes of greens, reds, pink. Jungle print apron wrapping round waist. All by Issey Miyake. Yellow jersey headband. Bronze sandals. Both Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. / Harem cowl-hooded dress: blue/black striped jersey blouse with ribbed cuffs and waist, long skirt draped to one side over narrow wrapped leggings. Blue jersey shawl wrapped into cowl. Issey Miyake. / Wrapped nomad tunic: burnt orange/grey border striped silk, long, loose, split over harem trousers with drawstring waist and ankles, in silk of same colours. Scarf wrapped into hood. By Basile. Embroidered orange silk bag on shoulder cord. Bronze leather sandals, Maud Frizon.


Having written a book on Thea Porter—a woman who made her name as a designer incorporating silhouettes, motifs and textiles from non-Western cultures—it might be obvious that I have an affinity for "ethnic" fashion styles. This editorial by David Bailey from 1976 might be one of the most beautiful interpretations of this style. While there are no dreamy locations or elaborate set-ups, the exquisite clothes are allowed to speak for themselves. And what clothes they are! Bill Gibb, Hanae Mori, Yves Saint Laurent, Bellville Sassoon all at their peaks. Pretty much the dream wardrobe for any woman with a hint of bohemia to her...

Photographs by David Bailey for Vogue UK, March 1976. 


(L) Russian effects with printed quilting—red and yellow, blue and green on black, with a ruff and a hat. Dress tying up the back, below knee-length, by Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé. Diamond and ruby pendant earrings, at Graff. (R) Shades of India: brilliantly ribboned black chiffon, glittering net apron, shadowy kimono fiery with beads and embroidery. Dress and kimono at Bill Gibb.


Silks from the Orient: Liberty scarf print, with gold braid. Dress, embroidered bib and yoke laced to the arms, flying panels of pleated red chiffon. Kimono with mandarin collar. By Bill Gibb. Print by Susan Collier for Liberty. High gold kid shoes, Maud Frizon. / Japanese paper colours: printed silk chiffon dress with beaded bodice and shoulder straps and a wide quilted jacket in brilliant silk tied with ribbons. By Hanae Mori. / Tropical fan flowers, blown up on vivid silk. Bare chiffon dress on a black piping halter over layers of orange chiffon. Full-length kimono bound in scarlet, quilted in great flowers one side, black silk on the other. By Hanae Mori. / Asian pantaloon dress: shocking pink feathery print satin edged in turquoise rouleaux, slit each side, with frilled edges and seams, tiered sleeves. Peacock silky jersey trousers, slit, tiered, pleated into frills from bound ankles. All at Zandra Rhodes.


(L) Gilded Russian peasant: forest green silk chiffon blouse, golden gauze and green silk waistcoat decorated with braid, long gold skirt striped with intricate patterns. By David Sassoon, made to measure from Bellville-Sassoon. Gold lame turban, from Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. (R) Flowered velvet for more Russian effects: rose red cut velvet waistcoat bordered with braid, printed velvet long skirt, many coloured, over pink silk taffeta petticoat. Rose gauze blouse, scarf wrapped into turban. Braided cord. David Sassoon, made to measure at Bellville-Sassoon.


Border-striped nomad tunic and trousers by Basile. / Glittering desert night: matt black jersey robe, slashed front and back, dipping to tasselled points, over sequinned harem trousers. By John Bates. / Layered shades of oasis cover: desert green silk with silver Lurex pinstripes and ticking stripes. Overdress tied at neck, loose sleeve; dress split over green silky jersey trousers tapered at ankles. Green sequinned cream silk chiffon scarf. By Walter Albini for Trell. / Moroccan velvet caftan: black piped with gold, sleeves turning back to gold Lurex. Gold/black woven silk sashing waist. Black suede/silver sandals. Gold turban. All at Saint Laurent Rive Gauche.

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