Overview: Women’s fashion finds unlikely style hero | Photography

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In 1967, Caroline Baker, who worked as secretary to Shirley Conran on the Observer, took a job with fashion editor Molly Parkin at Nova, the iconoclastic women’s magazine. Parkin left shortly after Baker arrived, and Baker took over, having never done a fashion shoot in his life. Over the following years, she developed a distinctive look that rebelled against industry stereotypes. “I didn’t want to be that pretty girl, that man’s toy,” she writes in the introduction to a new book celebrating her career, Rebel Stylist: Caroline Baker – The Woman Who Invented Street Fashion.

Instead of using clothing from design houses, Baker began looking elsewhere for material for his fashion pages, using oversized men’s clothing from thrift stores, outfitted with sashes and suspenders, surplus from the l supplier of army, leggings and tights from ballet, chef’s clothing, school blazers, hospital gowns and pajamas. Her urban style set the tone for punk fashion – Baker went on to work with Vivienne Westwood – and the liberated androgyny of the 1980s and beyond.

An inspiration for this look was Charlie Chaplin, “his chaotic way of dressing”. This image, included in the book, is of a Nova shoot by photographer Sarah Moon, stylized by Baker, shot shortly before by Nova death in 1975.

Moon was one of the few female fashion photographers at the time, and she and Baker together directed a series of feature films that reinvented film’s nostalgia through a female lens. They went to Brighton to take the pictures of Chaplin. “Sarah I wanted two little kids and an old car… you planned your fashion shoot like a mini-movie, ”Baker remembers. Chaplin’s voluminous figure looked both practical and aesthetic. “I’ve always felt so jealous that men are so lucky to have pockets.” She decided that women should have them too.


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