Great British Fashion: Cutting a dash in the world of haute couture

The Great British Fashion issue on May 15 brings together the best post-war design from the fashion houses which put Britain at the forefront of world couture.

Printed in litho by Cartor, in se-tenant strips of five, the stamps were created by Johnson Banks, who commissioned fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø to shoot the outfits. Live models were used to achieve dynamic postures and a sense of movement, but they do not appear on the final designs.

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH  British fashion has a strong history, but there is no special reason for this issue

The designs sensibly focus on the clothes rather than on models

Suitably varied and colourful, this set could look stunning in postal use

1st class Hardy Amies
Sir Edwin Hardy Amies (1909-2003) set up his own fashion business in Savile Row after World War II, and was the first major European fashion designer to venture into ready-to-wear clothing. In 1955 he received a royal warrant as dressmaker to the Queen. The outfit shown dates from the 1940s.

1st class Norman Hartnell
Sir Norman Hartnell (1901-1979) opened his first couture house in Mayfair in 1923. He went on to receive royal warrants as dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) and to Queen Elizabeth II. The stamp shows an outfit created in the 1950s.

1st class Granny Takes A Trip
This fashion shop was opened in 1965 on the King’s Road in Chelsea by Nigel Waymouth, Sheila Cohen and John Pearse, and was dubbed London’s first ‘psychedelic boutique’. The jacket illustrated was designed by Pearse using a Morris & Co furniture fabric print called Golden Lily.

1st class Ossie Clark
Raymond ‘Ossie’ Clark (1942-1996) was a major influence in the Swinging Sixties. His graduation collection from the Royal College of Art appeared in Vogue and his clothes were worn by celebrities such as Mick and Bianca Jagger. The outfit shown dates from the late 1960s and features a print by Celia Birtwell.

1st class Tommy Nutter
Nutter (1943-1992) reinvented the Savile Row suit in the 1960s. His clients included Elton John, and he dressed three of the four Beatles for the photograph on the cover of their Abbey Road album. The suit illustrated was designed for Ringo Starr.

1st class Jean Muir
Muir (1928-1995) rose from a stockroom job at Liberty’s to designing clothes for Jaeger, before launching her own label in 1962. Initially called Jean & Jane, then Jean Muir Ltd, its clients included Joanna Lumley (a former Muir model) and Maggie Smith. The outfit featured dates to the late 1970s or early 1980s.

1st class Zandra Rhodes
Rhodes (born 1940) led the new wave of British designers in the 1970s, making a splash with her ever-changing hairstyles. She designed for Freddie Mercury and for Diana, Princess of Wales. The illustrated dress is from the early 1980s.

1st class Vivienne Westwood
Dame Vivienne Westwood (born 1941) brought punk fashion into the mainstream in the mid-1970s. Her clothes drew inspiration from fetishists and prostitutes, and she dressed the Sex Pistols. Illustrated is her 1993 Harlequin dress famously modelled by Naomi Campbell.

1st class Paul Smith
Sir Paul Smith (born 1946) left school at the age of 15 but took evening classes in tailoring and got a job in Savile Row, where his designs were worn by celebrities such as George Best. He opened his first shop in 1970 and launched his own menswear label in 1976. The suit shown dates from around 2003.

1st class Alexander McQueen
Lee Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) worked as chief designer for Givenchy from 1996 before founding his own label in 2001. Known for using shock tactics on the catwalk, he dressed world figures such as Mikhail Gorbachev and Prince Charles and actresses such as Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman. The illustrated dress is ‘Black Raven’, from his 2009 collection.

In the presentation pack, dress historian Professor Amy de la Haye discusses post-war British fashion design, and the carrier tells the story of the photoshoot commissioned for the stamps.

As ever, a first day cover and stamp cards are available.


Set of 10 stamps         £6.00
Presentation pack  £6.50
Stamp cards £4.50
First day envelope £0.30
First day cover £7.68
TOTAL  £24.98