Fashion Hall of Obscurity – Marit Allen

Edwardian evening dress designed for The Secret Garden, 1993

Marit Allen’s career in fashion started at the age of twenty at Queen Magazine in 1961. She created a column called ‘About 20’ that showcased young designers with young fashion ideas – perfect timing for the burgeoning Mod movement. In 1964, Allen moved to British Vogue where she launched ‘Young Idea’ pages, featuring up and coming designers like John Bates, Foale and Tuffin, and Ossie Clark. Allen remained at Vogue until 1973.

Marit Allen wearing a John Bates silver trimmed coat on her wedding day, 1966

Introduced to the film world through her husband, Allen dabbled with costume design until her marriage ended in 1983 and she took on film costuming as her full time occupation. Although she didn’t necessarily specialize in period films, Allen did exceptional historic costuming in films like White Mischief, The Secret Garden, Brokeback Mountain, and even Little Shop of Horrors. In 2008, she posthumously received a BAFTA award and an Oscar nomination for her costume designs for La Vie En Rose – the biopic of Edith Piaf. Allen died from an aneurysm in 2007.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.

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