Thea Porter

Due to a series of coincidences as few months ago, I ended up at the Fashion and Textile Museum talking to Venetia Porter (Thea Porters daughter) about textiles in the 70’s.

My mum (Sue Younge) used to work for Thea, she was her PA and also modeled her pieces for clients in London, New York and further afield. A photo of my mum sitting in the Greek Street shop window was used in their publicity of her retrospective at the museum; which mum happened across when told about the show.

We visited the exhibition and a talk where mum recounted some of her memories of the era. The exhibition was full of her beautiful work, her inspiration and some screens that were used to print her fabrics; which was particularly of interest to me.

It was completely fascinating and a great experience. Thea was a unique and generous individual who pioneered the bohemian chic style.

The first-ever exhibition on the fashion and interior design of Thea Porter (1927–2000) who pioneered bohemian chic in the 1960s and 1970s. Her shop in Greek street, Soho opened in 1966 and instantly drew a rock and film star crowd of clients from the Beatles and Pink Floyd to Elizabeth Taylor, Faye Dunaway and Barbara Streisand. The retrospective covers Porter’s life and career from her early years in Jerusalem and Damascus, Beirut in the 1950s, Soho in the 1960s, and New York, Los Angeles and Paris in the 1970s. Featuring outfits worn by some of the world’s best-dressed women, the exhibition explores the influence of Middle Eastern and North African textiles and culture on 20th century fashion and interior design. Highlights include Porter’s seven signature looks: the Abaya & Kaftan; the Gipsy dress; the Faye dress; the Brocade-panel dress; the Wrap-over dress; the Chazara jacket; and the Sirwal skirt, as well as important fashion photography from the pages of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Wear Daily.

Fashion Textile Museum website

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