Bring on the Clowns

Posted by Liz
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Blue bowler with flower by Edward Mann. Black jacket, striped in gold, pink, blue and red by Sheridan Barnett for Simon Massey. Black satin trousers with gathered ankles by Titfers. Ballet pumps from Anello and Davide.




The early Seventies saw a vogue for circus-inspired fashion and consequently, circus-inspired fashion editorials. This 1972 shoot encapsulates the trend, with the heady combination of Foale and Tuffin's clothes and James Wedge's photographs. Wedge, Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin had studied together at the Royal College of Art alongside Peter Blake and David Hockney. Something of a Renaissance man, he began his career as a milliner, later diversifying into photography and boutique ownership. Top Gear and Countdown, the two King's Road boutiques he ran with girlfriend Pat Booth, were largely supplied by Foale and Tuffin, which was a huge factor in their early success.

In the late Sixties, believing that the boutique scene was on the way out, Wedge changed career again. In suitably casual style, a style only the truly talented can get away with, he bought his first camera from the boyfriend of a customer and taught himself how to use it. This trial-and-error method informed his innovative and experimental approach: he would laboriously hand-tint his negatives, sometimes almost completely obliterating the photographic image underneath. It's rare that I feel such a frisson of excitement when I see a photograph, but Wedge's distinctive hand is immediately recognizable and captivating.

This is true artistry: the mysterious nostalgia of tinted photographs, the faint creepiness of clowns, the theatricality of the clothes and make-up. Only James Wedge could make it all work so beautifully.


Photographed by James Wedge for 19 Magazine, March 1972. 



Blue straw hat by Edward Mann. Red, lilac, yellow and green striped shirt with ruffles. Yellow waistcoat with red spots and spotted tiered ruffles. Lilac and white spotted pantaloons, all by Foale and Tuffin.



Red bowler by Edward Mann. Spotted shirt and tiered waistcoat, both by Foale and Tuffin. Spotted green trousers by Electric Fittings.



Red felt bowler by Edward Mann. White rayon jacket with red, gold and mauve stripes and matching bloomers by Sheridan Barnett for Simon Massey.



Black clowns hat to order from Titfers. Black shirt with blue, pink, gold and red striped bodice and toning sleeves in silver, red, blue and yellow. Trousers in same fabric as sleeves. Both by Sheridan Barnett for Simon Massey. Ballet pumps from Anello and Davide.



Felt hat by Edward Mann. Floral waist-length jacket with tiered sleeves and matching dungarees, both by Foale and Tuffin. Sandals by Sacha.



Yellow straw hat by Edward Mann. Knee length white jacket with red, gold and mauve stripes. Black trousers in gold, punk, blue and red, both by Sheridan Barnett for Simon Massey. Pumps by Anello and Davide.


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