Antony Price is a British fashion designer famous for his intrinsic connections to the music world. He has collaborated with a number of performers, including David Bowie, Steve Strange and Duran Duran, but is best known for his close working relationship with Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, whose respective 'looks' were defined by Price's designs. He has been credited as the chief illusionist of what he dubbed "the Roxy Machine" and contributed to all eight album covers – something which can be boasted by no-one besides Bryan Ferry himself.
Antony Price studied at Bradford School of Art and then at the Royal College of Art, graduating with a distinction in 1968 and was immediately employed as menswear designer for the new fashion cult label, Stirling Cooper (The Rolling Stones were his first customers, with Jagger wearing his button trousers on the infamous ‘Gimme Shelter’ tour). In the late sixties and early seventies, Price was designer not only for Stirling Cooper but also Che Guevara (1969 – 1974), moving on to Plaza in London and launching his own label in 1979 to international plaudits.
Price is one of the first designers to push the boundaries of male display in his clothes and styling, an inspired cutter and tailor, constantly inventive, the creator of the ‘H’ and ‘bridge’ crutch pants which made Tom of Finland fantasy a sartorial reality for two generations of young men. His first show was in London’s A/W 1980 collections, filmed by John Maybury with models Jerry Hall and Marie Helvin as vampish icons of sexual glamour (he had honed this look working with Kari-Anne, Amanda Lear and Gala Mitchell in the early 1970s).
In the words of Colin McDowell in his ‘Directory of Twentieth Century Fashion’ (1984) Antony Price ‘is much more than a designer of clothes: he is an image- maker.’ He was effectively creative director of the Stirling Cooper and Plaza before the term was even thought of. ‘Both shops were designed by him and the latter was unique in 1974, being based, as it was, on a display concept. There were no racks of clothes, just one garment (beautifully displayed on boards) which could be made to measure in the customer's colour choice. In this, Price predated Armani by almost ten years’.
McDowell continues: ‘In 1983 Price's 'Fashion Extravaganza' at the Camden Palace fulfilled a long-felt ambition: to show his clothes to the public, not just to the press and buyers. It was a great success, as Bill Gibb’s similar exercise had been when it filled London's Albert Hall in 1977’ Other shows followed, including his show-stopping dress and concept for Jerry Hall at Fashion Aid at the Albert Hall in 1985. Antony Price's clothes reflect his technical abilities and his interest in construction. They are body-conscious and highly structured and their roots are in Hollywood. They are blatantly sexual, whether for men or women, and they have glamour and theatricality. He is a unique talent in London and shows many of the design qualities of a modern Charles James.
In line with his connections to the entertainment business, Price’s designs are glamorous, dramatic and provocative with a focus on eveningwear and spectacle. He once declared that his clothes "are for women who go to serious parties", but this belies the erotic impact and frisson of his womenswear. He was (and is) beloved by women who are confident, lovers of nightlife who can flirt with subversion: his women, like his own cult creation ‘Zonda’, are modern femme fatales.
With a roster of famous clients dressed over a twenty year period, Antony Price received the 'Glamour' award from the British Fashion Council for 1990, and was profiled by Sarah Mower in the March issue of British Vogue the same year. In 1998, Antony Price collaborated with milliner Philip Treacy on clothing for his show at London Fashion Week, and continued to collaborate on subsequent Treacy shows in London and Paris.
Described as British fashion’s ‘wayward genius’ by cultural commentator Peter York, today Antony Price works from his home in the English countryside, creating made-to-measure clothing for an elite clientele, from the late Isabella Blow and Daphne Guinness to his old friend Jerry Hall and Sarah Mower. He was nominated for the British Fashion Council's 'Red Carpet Designer' award at the 2006 British Fashion Awards. Now into his acclaimed fourth ‘Priceless’ range for high street retailer Topman he also designed a range of shirts with Daphne Guinness, which retailed at Dover Street Market.
Photo: Sarah Lee