While youthquake fashion icons like Mary Quant and Ossie Clark are household names – and have both had major retrospectives at the iconic Victoria Albert Museum (along with mega brands Dior, Balenciaga and McQueen) – Allan slipped under the fashion radar, until now…
It’s the coolest label from the Swinging Sixties that you have never heard of. Richard Allan, anyone? Even the most dedicated follower of fashion (er, that’s me) will be looking slightly blank at the name.
It’s worth learning the name – or, ahem, pretending you already knew it – because Richard Allan is back in the spotlight.
H&M, high street home to killer collaborations from Karl Lagerfeld to Balmain and Moschino through to Giambattista Vialli and Pringle (both coming later this year) have teamed up with the British label, now under the guidance of Allan’s daughter Cate, to create a new collection of brilliantly modern pieces, featuring Allan’s iconic Sixties prints.
Founded in 1962, Richard Allan was an innovative creative who used graphic patterns, abstract print and vibrant colours on silk scarves, and that’s exactly what H&M have zeroed in for their collaboration, on sale August 22nd.
But how come the legacy of Allan has gone unnoticed? Rather than creating whole outfits, Allan focused on designing prints that epitomised the era. He had a chic store in Mayfair and collaborated with Yves Saint Laurent and Schiaparelli but after the company was sold in the 1980s, lots of the archive got lost or was destroyed… until Allan’s daughter begin the process of releasing original patterns, creating limited edition reissues and H&M came calling… Today H&M have stepped up to bring Allan’s legacy to a larger audience as the collection is available in all stores, as well as online.
Some of the statement pieces to shop? Our favourites include cute silk scarves to tie in your hair or around a handbag strap; The essential polo-neck – ideal for layering… Slip the camel and black interlocking square print polo-neck under a pinny dress or echo 2019’s catwalk styling with the monochrome Prince of Wales check version and a houndstooth tweed suit; The brown paisley blouse will look totally on-tend tucked into a pleated midi-skirt and teamed with a tweedy blazer (channeling the bourgeois mood of this season’s catwalk); While the maze patterned cami top is the ideal match for jeans and heels on a night out.
Hinting at the psychedelia yet to come into the counterculture scene, Allan’s prints feel as fresh today as they would have been when he designed them. “Swinging London in (the) 1960s is such an iconic era full of… an exuberant spirit that still feels very now. By taking these classic vintage prints from scarves and reimagining them in a new context, the pieces from the H&M x Richard Allan collection feel both strong and feminine, yet with a sophisticated touch”, says Maria Östblom, head of womenswear design at H&M.
Retro without being costume-y and a name to impress your friends with. You’ll never forget Richard Allan again.