Refna Revival: Elizabeth Hamey’s Adventure In Art, Design And Fashion In The 60s and 70s

Exciting news: Elizabeth Hamey, who signs her work ‘Refna’, has granted me access to her amazing archive of work at the cross-hatches of art, design and fashion in the 1960s and 70s.

 

Jean Shrimpton in Mr Freedom Minnie Mouse top, Hans Feurer, Fancy Dressing, Nova, December 1970, with the original design on tracing paper by Refna.

Jean Shrimpton in Mr Freedom Minnie Mouse top, Hans Feurer, Fancy Dressing, Nova, December 1970, with the original design on tracing paper by Refna.

 

Elizabeth Hamey with her Rolleiflex, mid-60s © Refna

Elizabeth Hamey with her Rolleiflex, mid-60s © Refna

Brochure for Through The Looking Glass fashion show in Cambridge, 1968 © Refna

Brochure for Through The Looking Glass fashion show in Cambridge, 1968 © Refna

 

Elizabeth Hamey modelling for Kleptomania with her friend Roger, 1968 © Refna

Elizabeth Hamey modelling for Kleptomania with her friend Roger, 1968 © Refna

 

Hamey’s portrait of Roger for the fabled Chelsea modelling agency English Boy, 1968 © Refna

Hamey’s portrait of Roger for the fabled Chelsea modelling agency English Boy, 1968 © Refna

 

Hamey studied drawing and illustration at the art school in her hometown of Cambridge (and later fine art at Kingston art school in Surrey).

Running market stalls in London’s Portobello Road and Chelsea Antiques Market as well as in Cambridge, she designed ranges of clothing, including kaftans made from Indian bed spreads and, for the May Balls in the university town, a collection of flamboyant shirts which were modelled by friends such as the photographer Mick Rock. One was worn by Jimmy Page onstage during The Yardbirds’ first tour of the US in 1966.

Lace-cuffed and collared May Ball shirt modelled by Mick Rock, 1966 © Refna

Lace-cuffed and collared May Ball shirt modelled by Mick Rock, 1966 © Refna

 

May Ball shirt worn onstage by Jimmy Page on The Yardbirds’ US tour, 1966 © Refna.

May Ball shirt worn onstage by Jimmy Page on The Yardbirds’ US tour, 1966 © Refna.

Page introduced Hamey to the late design entrepreneur Tommy Roberts, who drafted her in to design garments for his store Kleptomania; among Hamey’s creations was the gigot-sleeved Kleptomania mini-dress worn by Sharon Tate at her London wedding to Roman Polanski in 1968.

 

Illustrations for designs for Kleptomania, 1968 © Refna

Illustrations for designs for Kleptomania, 1968 © Refna

 

Illustrations for designs for Kleptomania, 1968© Refna. No reproduction without permission

Illustrations for designs for Kleptomania, 1968© Refna. No reproduction without permission

 

When Roberts launched Mr Freedom with Trevor Myles at 430 Kings Road in 1969, Hamey was on hand to produce appliqués for the jersey tops and dresses which became staple garments at the influential pop-art boutique.

Appliqués by Refna, clockwise from top- Al Capone, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner © Refna.

Appliqués by Refna, clockwise from top- Al Capone, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner © Refna.

One Mr Freedom collection featured characters licensed from Walt Disney Co in the Hollywood studio’s first-ever fashion rights deal.

Original Mr Freedom Goofy top and Refna’s design, 1970 © Refna

Original Mr Freedom Goofy top and Refna’s design, 1970 © Refna

 

Mickey Mouse 1970 © Refna

Mickey Mouse 1970 © Refna

 

Model in Mickey Mouse top in Hans Feurer’s Mr Freedom shoot Mickey Mouse Macht Mode, Twen, September 1970.

Model in Mickey Mouse top in Hans Feurer’s Mr Freedom shoot Mickey Mouse Macht Mode, Twen, September 1970.

Working with a team of machinists, Hamey also designed for one-off commissions from celebrity clients such as Elton John and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who received his-and-her’s matching singlets with appliqué portraits of each other.

Artwork replicating Titian’s The Venus Of Urbino for an appliqué for Elton John, 1971.

Artwork replicating Titian’s The Venus Of Urbino for an appliqué for Elton John, 1971.

 

The Richard Burton portrait for the singlet to be worn by Liz Taylor, 1970 © Refna

The Richard Burton portrait for the singlet to be worn by Liz Taylor, 1970 © Refna

 

richard Burton showed his gratitude for the appliqué-d tops by presenting Hamey with this signed photograph.

Burton showed his gratitude for the appliqué-d tops by presenting Hamey with this signed photograph.

Hamey even produced satin codpieces for Mick Jagger.  “I was too embarrassed to deliver them so sent a male friend in case I had to do a fitting!” she laughs.

Empire State design for Mr Freedom dress, 1970 © Refna

Empire State design for Mr Freedom dress, 1970 © Refna

Mr Freedom was but one of Hamey’s customers; she also designed for Paul Reeves’ Fulham outlet The Universal Witness and his former partner John Lloyd’s King’s Road boutique Alkasura as well as fashion shops in Cambridge and accounts in New York and Canada.

Based in Gloucestershire these days, Hamey has latterly been artist-in-residence at Cirencester Park Polo Club and focuses on depictions of  animals, particularly horses. Her work has appeared in the Royal Academy.

Keep up with Refna’s current activities here.