Richard Allan established the company in 1962. It was a time of great social change when boundaries were pushed, and Britain led the way with the Beatles, psychedelia and Carnaby Street living edgily alongside haute couture, tailored chic, department stores and British reserve.
Popularity for his scarves grew rapidly, and Richard Allan gained a reputation as an innovative producer of silk scarves in bold, abstract designs with distinct, off-beat colours, as well as striking monochromes. Many of the Richard Allan scarf designs reference the Art Nouveau style which historically aimed at modernizing design, drawing inspiration from both organic and geometric forms. The silk squares of heavyweight silk twill were screen printed at David Evans & Co in Crayford, Kent and finished by hand in London.
In the first year of trading, Richard Allan sold over 50,000 scarves. The fledgling company moved to 87 Duke Street in Mayfair, where it flourished for the next twenty years.
Richard Allan became a household name. His groundbreaking designs and use of colour were perfect for the Swinging Sixties, but he also maintained a firm focus on classically elegant scarves for those who wanted timeless chic. His scarves were sold in London at iconic stores – Fenwick, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Liberty, Selfridges. Demand grew and soon Richard Allan scarves were being sold globally.
In addition, Richard Allan undertook commissions for corporate gifts and promotions. Clients included Alfred Dunhill, Newmarket Racecourse and the Rank Organisation. He collaborated with Schiaparelli and Yves St Laurent. And Richard Allan scarves were used in many film and television productions – Diana Rigg wore Richard Allan scarves in the popular 1960’s television series The Avengers.
Richard Allan possessed an extraordinary eye for line and colour; aesthetics mattered to him, his style was eclectic; his collections included the daring and the bold. The designs were striking, avant-garde and stylish but he also offered classically elegant scarves. Sometimes his collections included amusing or whimsical designs, but his hallmark was always superb design, excellent quality and brand defining colours.
It was the vision of the Richard Allan designs as art that inspired Cate Allan to relaunch her father’s company. In 2014, she began tracking down her father’s designs; recreating his archive, scarf by scarf. She also began reworking the colours, melding his work with hers to give a fresh, contemporary feel. Now, she has relaunched the business as Richard Allan London, offering both new scarves and a brilliant collection of framed Limited Edition art prints. On museum paper, at 30” x 30″, the original scarf size, the art prints are striking, beautiful, vibrant, impactful, a testimony to the best of 1960’s design and a fitting tribute to her father’s legacy.
It is a new and exciting era for the classic brand with the launch of the contemporary Richard Allan collections. Just as Richard Allan’s original scarves perpetuated such a wide following, the new collections too appeal to a classic taste as well as the more off-beat. The aesthetic of the company remains true to its roots with an overarching theme of fantastic, original sixties and seventies design and beautiful colours presented in fabulous high-end quality.