In the early sixties three Dutch fashion designers named Josje Leeger, Marijke Koeger and Simon Posthua opened the clothing boutique "The Trend" in Amsterdam. Even though it was a success it was closed due to financial problems.
The three designers settled in London after traveling throughout Europe. It was there that they met and teamed up with designer Barry Finch along with his manager Simon Hayes. The group named themselves "The Fool" after the Joker in Tarot Cards.
Josje Leeger met model Pattie Boyd at Mantagu Square where Ringo Star, band mate of Pattie's husband George Harrison owned a Town House. Pattie loved Josje's designs so much that she mentioned her in an interview and offered to model her creations.
Pattie modelling Josje's designs, August 1967
Pattie wasn't the only person in the Beatles family that "The Fool"'s work appealed too. John Lennon reportedly declared "This is where I want to live" after walking in to their home. He then got them to paint and design his piano and his Gibson guitar. George Harrison also had "The Fool" paint his fireplace.
George Harrison's Fire Place
In September 1967 The Beatles opened a clothing boutique at 94 Baker Street as apart of the new Apple Corps empire. They decided to give "The Fool" £100,000 to design and stock the store. The Fool gathered a group of art students to help them paint the exterior. This angered business owners near by and brought in many complaints. The Beatles themselves were in charge of the interior. Paul McCartney would come in the mornings and ask the workers to change around the store, John would then come in later and order everything to be moved back.
The exterior of Apple Boutique, painted by "The Fool"
In December 1967 Apple Boutique held its opening night. Apple juice was handed out to guests as they walked in. Inside there was a fashion show and circus acts. This is thought to be the first time John Lennon was publicly seen with future wife Yoko Ono.
Opening Night Invitation
John Lennon's childhood friend Pete Shotton became the new manager, he was helped by George Harrison's sister-in-law Jennie Boyd. Other staff were Caleb who slept under the showcase during breaks and a woman who dressed daily in authentic gypsy costume.
Jennie Boyd inside Apple
The boutique ran into problems when Pete discovered that "The Fool" had purchased thousands of pounds worth of luxurious fabrics. The clothes would cost a lot more to make then they would be sold for. When John Lennon was confronted about this he shrugged it off saying, "Oh, let them do what they want. We're not business freaks, we're artists... if we don't make and money, what does it matter?"
Pete Shotton ended up quiting after 2 months. The store had huge changing rooms that were perfect for shop lifters and the designs seemed to be last years fashions.
Pattie Boyd and others model Apple's fashions
In only 7 months Apple had lost almost £200,000. Jon Lyndon, the new manager threatened to ban "The Fool" from the store if they charged any more debts to Apple. They were forced to remove the outside mural and it now was pure white and declared that you were at Apple above the windows.
On July 30th 1968 the Apple staff were told to open the doors the next day and give the stock away. John and Yoko were the first to go through the store, they walked away with arms full of merchandise that they piled into John's Rolls Royce. Paul found one jacket and Ringo said he couldn't find anything that fit. The giveaway was publicised in the newspaper and the next morning there was a line up outside the store three blocks long. There was no limit to how much stock people could take. It was so busy that they opened the basement so that customers could go right out the other side.
"We decided to close down our Baker Street shop yesterday and instead of putting up a sign saying, 'Business will be resumed as soon as possible', and then auction off the goods, we decided to give them away. The shops were doing fine and making a nice profit on turnover. So far, the biggest loss is in giving the things away, but we did that deliberately. We're giving them away - rather than selling them to barrow boys - because we wanted to give rather than sell. Originally, the shops were intended to be something else, but they just became like all the boutiques in London. They just weren't our thingy. The staff will get three weeks' pay but if they wish they'll be absorbed into the rest of Apple. Everyone will be cared for."
- Paul McCartney
Labels: Apple Boutique, British Boutique Movement, Jenny Boyd, Pattie Boyd, Sixties Fashion, The Beatles, The Fool