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  • Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell, July 1971
  • Celia Birtwell in front of herself in David Hockney’s Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, 1970-1971, at the Tate Gallery

We talked to the legendary print master who, together with then-husband Ossie Clark, helped define the freewheeling fashions of the Sixties and Seventies. She dished new collaborations (Uniqlo), her friendship with artist David Hockney and pattern plays.

The very first print I fell in love with…

My earliest inspirational prints were by Léon Bakst, who designed for Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes. The first memorable print I produced was Mystic Daisy, which I designed in the Seventies for Ossie and is still going strong today.

One moment that perfectly encapsulates the Ossie Clark style and era for me…

Ossie Clark’s fashion shows were a theatrical experience that I always found alluring and provocative. I’m very proud to have been part of them as they set a trend that has never gone away.

Favorite David Hockney anecdote…

In the Seventies I was fortunate enough to drive with David Hockney from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, where we saw Elvis Presley in concert. That’s a treat that’s difficult to beat, although having dinner at David’s when Billy Wilder was a guest runs very close.

My mantra to wearing prints…

Wear mine! (Of course, wear what you look good in and feel comfortable wearing.)

My favorite color…

I can’t have a favorite color, as it depends too much on the setting, mood, lighting, use it’s put to and so on.

And favorite color combination…

Any color combination that sings to me is good.

The Sixties and Seventies were…

Of course, my youth and one always has very special memories of that period.

My new collection with Uniqlo

I would like to think it is fun and witty, and has something for everyone across all ages. I particularly like the shirts and pajama pants in the stars and Romanian prints for myself. The scarves and bags are another wonderful surprise — I haven’t stopped wearing my scarf since I received it.

My dream collaboration…

I very much enjoyed working with Topshop, as they gave me a chance to reach a new audience, but Uniqlo is a very special company and working with them has been a real joy. I would love to be asked to design a home collection, using some of my archive prints, combined with new designs to make pretty rooms.

My favorite room in my house (and how I decorated it)…

We have moved recently and so are in the process of making a new home. I’ve always liked creating interiors and love looking at spaces to decide how they would look best. My red sitting room in my old house was very beautiful and it will take something special to match it.

Best advice I’ve ever received…

Trust your own creative instincts, but don’t lose sight of the importance of the hand, the eye and the heart.

One thing people would be surprised to know about me…

I prefer my work to show who I am. I’m a very private person.

Clark and Birtwell, photographed by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images; Bird Song French Blue print by Celia Birtwell; Birtwell at the Tate, photographed by Nick Harvey/Getty Images

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