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Forum
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Interiors and Exteriors
WEDNESDAY
Portraits
THURSDAY
Art and Design
FRIDAY
Fashion
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Objects and Antiquities

Friday, December 7

FROM THE CLOSET OF JULIANN WILDING : HELEN ANDERSON BLOUSE



I was very lucky to find this beaded backless blouse, a rare vintage Helen Anderson for Holt Renfrew piece. In the early 1960s Helen Anderson was a Liverpool England art star and by the age of 15 was being commissioned to paint portraits of England's socialites and pop stars. Helen was good friends with John Lennon, a fellow mover and shaker in the early bohemian scene. Seems she made a leather hat for John that she had to replicate numerous times as it was stolen so often, sometimes right off his head. Through making garments for herself and her cool friends Helen made a name for herself and soon owned her own company. Initially working exclusively in leather and suede, Helen later moved to silk chiffon gowns and leisurewear. By that point she was distributing to Liberty and Harrods in London, Saks Fifth Ave, Neiman Marcus, Henry Bendell and our own Holt Renfrew.  By researching the font work on the labels I am able to place the garment in the early 1970s. It was made in England and at that time very few duplicates of a collection the size of Helen's would have been put into production so you can imagine how pleased I was to exhume it from the local Value Village.  




I love a good crunchy beaded number, the textured weight of it pleases me and if I can see the beading is hand sewn I am even more enchanted. This blouse also has an open back and nine long strands of black glass beads that dangle against the skin. This flash of a jeweled naked back in an otherwise opaque black garment has turned heads each time I've worn it. Other women can hardly stand that it's from Value Village, and men just shake their heads in wonder. Everyone agrees that it's a special garment. 

Helen Anderson is still alive and though she has retired from designing fashion she is still active in her first love, that of painting and especially portraiture, and recently painted Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. 

-JW





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