Celia Birtwell: Illuminating the Genius of an Iconic Textile Designer

Today's post is dedicated to one of my all-time favorite textile designers, Celia Birtwell.

I still paint prints in gouache by hand before I put them on the computer and wriggle them around. If I didn’t paint them first, they would have no soul.

— Celia Birtwell

Celia Birtwell is a renowned British textile designer. Born on May 22, 1941, in Prestwich, Lancashire, England, she moved to Notting Hill in 1961. She gained prominence during the 1960s and 1970s for her distinctive and imaginative textile prints. Birtwell's exceptional artistry gained recognition through her partnership with legendary designer Ossie Clark. Together, they brought her textile designs to the forefront, leaving an indelible mark on the 1960s and 1970s fashion landscape.

British fashion designer Ossie Clark with Birtwell, in 1971. Photograph: Evening Standard/Getty Images


Celia Birtwell's designs were characterized by bold and intricate prints, complementing Ossie Clark's cutting-edge silhouettes. Her textiles drew inspiration from nature, art, and her own vivid imagination, creating a signature style that became synonymous with the Ossie Clark brand.

'Floating Daisy' print designed by Celia Birtwell for Ossie Clark, London, 1968-1970

Collaboration: The Key to Success:
The dynamic collaboration between Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell combined their artistic visions seamlessly. Ossie's understanding of Celia's designs allowed him to craft garments that showcased her textile prints flawlessly. Together, they revolutionized the fashion scene, creating garments that exuded sensuality and freedom. Celia Birtwell's journey from relative anonymity to recognition exemplifies the power of collaboration.


Photo: Jane Birkin in Ossie Clark by Patrick Lichfield, 1969


The Spotlight Shone by Ossie Clark:
Ossie Clark played a crucial role in shining a spotlight on Celia Birtwell's talent. As a renowned designer, he showcased her remarkable textile designs by featuring her name on the clothing labels of his own label.

Legacy and Influence:
Despite their partnership's end in the late 1970s, Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell's influence continues to resonate in the fashion world. Their innovative approach to design and celebration of vibrant textiles have inspired countless designers. Birtwell's distinctive prints remain highly sought after, gracing contemporary collections and museum archives. In 2013 Celia collaborated with Japanese retailer Uniqlo on a range featuring vintage and modern textile designs. Her latest and most prestigious collaboration was with Maison Valentino for the Pre-Fall 2015 collection:

 More info here: https://www.celiabirtwell.com/heritage/biography/

Reviews (1 comment)

  • Leilani On

    Thank you for this! This is a beautiful example of textiles AS art. All of them, treasures. ✨💖

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