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Alfred Radley (b. 1924, London) was a British clothing manufacturer best known for his association with the Quorum Boutique and fashion designer, Ossie Clark.

Biography

Alfred Radley was born in 1924 in the East End of London. The youngest of seven children, his father died when he was eighteen months old. He was brought up partially at the Norwood orphanage.

During the Second World War he volunteered for the Navy and served in all theatres of war from the Atlantic Convoys to the Pacific. Towards the end of the war he served on ships taking returning Russian prisoners to Odessa and bringing back Jewish survivors from the death camps to Marseilles. He also was on one to the first ships to enter Japan following the dropping Atom bombs when he visited Hiroshima.

After the War he started his own company selling dresses and by the early 1960s Radley was at the forefront of Swinging London. The party dresses made by Radley epitomised the era and by 1965 Radley was one of the most important fashion houses in London, with its own fabric mills as well as factories producing gloves and handbags for many high street stores including Marks & Spencer.

In 1968 Radley acquired Quorum with its famous designers Ossie Clark, Alice Pollock and Celia Birtwell. This was the start of Ossie Clark's golden age and it was by far his most productive and successful period. Whilst Ossie Clark flourished under the Quorum label, Radley promoted the careers of many designers including: Betty Jackson, Shelagh Brown, Sheridan Barnett, Wendy Dagworthy, Rosmary Bradford and Terrance Nolder. In addition, Radley was very supportive of up and coming design talent, working with the leading fashion colleges to find designers to work under the Radley label.

However, Radley's biggest contribution to fashion was his foresight in 1968 in taking top designers to the high street. By launching the "Ossie Clark for Radley", "Celia Burtwell for Radley" and "Alice Pollock for Radley" labels he was the first person to have the vision to make leading designers accessible to the general public at prices they could afford.

As featured in the newspapers at the time:

"ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS" Times Tuesday September 17 1968.

The combination of Quorum styling - which the most avant-garde and original in the country - and the marketing expertise of Radley should provide the material for a High Street revolution. The first Quorum range for Radley will be for next spring and then every local girl who has longed for the elusive and expensive goodies designed by the darlings of fashion press will be able to satisfy her desires

.

The Observer Review 11 May 1969.

This (blouse) is "part of Ossie Clark's first mass-market range for Radley. Radley, a large wholesale manufacturer, have bravely taken the plunge and taken the Quorum talent in tow. The range which should satisfy all Ossie and Alice frustrated admirers in far-flung outposts of Empire, will gradually go on sale in stores and shops from the end of June. We wish it success."

For this, he has been given the epithet "the patron saint of British Fashion" Sir Philip Green.

According to the Topshop website:

"Best known as the patron saint of British design talent having saved Quorum Boutique (where Ossie Clark designed) from bankruptcy in 1968, Radley was a quintessential British Fashion Manufacturer in its own right. With their never-fail combination of quirky, feminine dresses that appealed to fashion addicts and high-street lovers a-like, Alfred Radley and his in-house design team blended an eclectic mix of pretty prints, luxurious fabrics and intricate detailing to create simply stunning designs. Along with the Ossie Clark for Radley label, a diffusion line of Clarks own original designs that were interpreted into a variety of affordable pieces, Radley produced beautifully wearable day dresses with their in-house designer, Rose Bradford. A skillful designer in her own right, Bradford's playful use of fabric, pleats and intricate detailing created stunning easy-to-wear dresses that beautifully evoked the attitudes of the era in which they were designed."

Radley remained in contact with Ossie Clark throughout the rest of his life. Although Radley retired in the late 1980s, he has retained a passionate interest in fashion and in particular Ossie Clark and has worked tirelessly to keep his work and memory alive. In 2002, he convinced the Victoria & Albert Museum to stage a major exhibition in celebration of Ossie Clark's work which was mounted in July 2003 for ten months. Radley provided many of the garments that were on display from his personal collection and the centre piece was his daughter Diane's wedding dress.

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