Celia Birtwell "fabric print pioneer"
I love men and women who carry on creating -
Celia Birtwell CBE is the textile designer whose floral prints on gossamer chiffons, silks and satins, tailored and cut into romantic dresses and shirts by her late ex-husband, Ossie Clark, defined the ethereal look of the late 1960s and 1970s. Talitha Getty, Marianne Faithfull, Pattie Boyd and Bianca Jagger all wore them. Even Brian Jones and Keith Richards couldn't resist the odd blouse.
Birtwell made her name again four decades later after a spell out of the fashion spotlight, re-emerging in 2006 as a high-street phenomenon for a new generation with four sell-out collections for Topshop. This year she was awarded the CBE for services to the fashion industry.
In theory then, she'd have every right to play the grande dame ; in practice she doesn't even try. She walks into her pocket-sized, west London fabric shop for our interview not with airs and graces but carrying a little dish of dog food covered in tin foil. . .
. . .Next month sees the launch of the book Celia Birtwell . About time too, some might say. Until now Birtwell's remarkable life has been something recorded by others - unflatteringly in the explosive Clark diaries published after the designer's death, enigmatically on canvas by Hockney. Now she finally gets to tell her story her way.