Sir Mark Palmer, baronet and former pageboy to the Queen, declared himself a fashion oracle in 1967.
“Sir Mark Palmer predicts that pink will be the popular shade in menswear next season. He has set up a shop in Chelsea and revolutionised the image of the male fashion model.
A staff of 35 English boy models are kept busy at £15 an hour. They must be 6′ tall, weigh 140 lbs and not be more than 36″ around the chest.
When we met Mark Palmer he was wearing a sky blue flat felt hat, blue striped red blazer, flowered Moroccan vest with striped tie around the waist, pink pants and pink shoes. “Painted the shoes myself” he said with pride.
“We’re riding the crest of the wave he said. “The shape of men’s bodies had already changed before we pointed it out but nobody had noticed. Male models should look like poets. Who wants to look like a 35 year old muscular Australian male model? Young girls don’t want to be seen with that type any more.”
In 1968 he had an epiphany and set off in search of a Shangri-la in Cornwall
“The fifth baronet has grown his hair to shoulder length and sleeps in a brightly painted wagon pulled by a carthorse. Several women, nine puppies, four horses and a lamb have joined his hippie band. He has cashed in his inheritance to buy an estate but at the moment lives in a derelict lodge.
Sir Mark, who went to Eton and Oxford (“not really my scene”) is wearing hand sewn moccasins, gold socks and trousers, red trimmed vest, flower patterned shirt and yellow flower embroidered open jacket.
Nice to know he was still interested in fashion. For several years he travelled around Britain in a horse drawn caravan. He was also a friend of the Rolling Stones
“Palmer’s revised modus vivendi was to live out, eat au naturel and to sleep rough, late and with whomever he could. Villagers became inured to the sight of Palmer’s numerous acolytes appearing in the local shop to buy cigarette papers or a magazine of astrological data.
Eventually he married one of the aficionados of astrological magazines and became a horse dealer and father to artist, model and aspiring trapezist Iris Palmer.
‘A touch of the Iris Palmers’ is fashion-speak for not smiling. The one-time face of both ‘ready-to-wear’ (Chanel and Lacroix) and ‘already worn’ (Oxfam), Iris is a product of St Mary’s Wantage, the rather more liberal Bedales and Chelsea Art School. She first turned up at her modelling agency, Storm, in a micro-miniskirt, fishnets and spike heels, took acid at Glastonbury, grew her armpit hair for a Helmut Newton shoot and is a demon ping-pong player. She’s now editor-at-large of Cheap Date, a magazine advocating ‘freedom from fashion’. ‘All my clothes are second-hand and cost less than a fiver. I never wash them – I just chuck them in a terrifying pile, and I may not see them again,’ she says. Her paintings of robust nudes are not admired by critics, but Helena Christensen bought one for £2,000. Recently, to the amazement of the fashion world, Iris has joined a travelling circus, and hopes to learn the trapeze. Audiences report that she has even been spotted smiling.