Uncle Val looking very young
Postcard from Broadstairs, Kent,
Val striding gaily along
with friend Dick Richards.
Uncle Val, Aunt Muriel
and Dick Richards
Who is this?
I can't decipher the signature;
an actor contemporary?
Uncle Val florally attired
Same dress, off-the-shoulder
Serious studio portrait
Uncle Val used to send a card to us in New Zealand each Christmas, never depicting Christmas symbols, and always in this Beardsley style; there was a certain mystery about them because they were so different and unusual, and he never enclosed a letter or a few lines about his personal life. Maybe his close family felt uncomfortable about his extrovert eccentricities, and he didn't know how the wider family would react. If anyone chances upon this web page and has further information on Val St Cyr, dress designer, who lived on Cromwell Road, his partner Ernest St Cyr Sands, or their fashion business 'Baroque', please let me know.
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Here's a studio portrait of Uncle Val taken on 16th February 1948 by Chaloner Woods that I found on Google Images.
I'm very grateful to Tonie Sands who kindly emailed me out of the blue (20.02.2008) to tell me that Uncle Val
and her great-grandfather, Ernest St Cyr Sands, ran a fashion business called Baroque
around 1922. It was situated at 97 New Bond Street London W1, and 37/38 Margaret Street, Cavendish Square, W1.
Val and Ernest lived together and were very close. He used to send the same Christmas greeting cards from
168 Cromwell Road, London, SW5, the last being around 1954. Apparently the business continued into
the 1960s when they sold up and retired at a time when the fur trade began to diminish. Ernest married Emma,
one of the models at Baroque; they moved into a flat in Mayfair,
and not long aferwards both fell ill and moved into a retirement home.
It's not surprising to hear that stories passed down the Sands family reveal that Val's flair at dress-designing and the success of the business provided a comfortable life-style; he could plainly afford to indulge his eccentricities and would turn up at suited dinner parties wearing Pierrot costumes or some sort of ethnic attire.
Tonie more recently sent some photos of sketches, pages from the Baroque brochure, cards etc. Scroll further down to see them.
My mother (born in 1919) was a model for your uncle and somewhere we have photographic evidence! She was a model, actress and dancer at the Italia Conti Stage School and she was involved in the 1937 British Industries Show where she modelled for your uncle. She was 18, but was hired, she told me, because she was blond and looked 14. She modelled a bridesmaid dress (4 bridesmaids, two blond and two brunette) and the bride. They were visited by the King, Queen Mary and other members of the royal family. She says it was very embarrassing as Queen Mary was deaf and therefore spoke very loudly: as they drew opposite her in the front row she said loudly: "Oh no! Never green for a wedding!". She says your uncle was very kind and had an exceptionally nice manicure which she remembers to this day, beautiful oval nails, buffed to a high shine. She said that it was only later that she realised that he must have been gay. We do have a picture somewhere, but cannot lay our hands on it at the moment.As soon as Helen can send the photo, I will add it to this site. She has suggested that Val and Ernest deserve a Wikipedia article.
Evening culotte dress of black chiffon velvet with black sequin embroidery on shoulders and pocket flap. It has a narrow peter pan collar, long sleeves and deep shoulder pads and is cut to form loose trousers (the gusset open) with a skirt panel at the rear. There is a large plastic zip from neck to crotch. On the left hip there is a large pocket with an embroidered flap.
"But in February 1932 Marc had another musical challenge, which was to provide the accompaniment to a rather extraordinary fashion show. Starting with a scantily clothed Eve, the collection by Val St Cyr of the House of Baroque, was creative, at times outrageous and certainly got the notice of the press and fashionistas from all over Europe. Marc’s musical score was to the words of "Meet My Mannequins", which the designer himself presented. The Duchess of York and many other society and show business celebrities attended the event."Mike tells me: "The information is sourced from a newspaper report in The Daily Telegraph on February 23, 1932. The reference to the Duchess of York would be a reference to the late Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who was the wife of King George VI, mother of Queen Elizabeth II, and who (in 1932) was certainly not expecting her husband to become King of England."
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The Goose Girl
The Judgment of Pan
Harlequin - Christmas 1924
“an exceptionally nice manicure....
beautiful oval nails,
buffed to a high shine”
Sketch for a client?
Portrait for the brochure
Portrait for the brochure
Sketch from the 'House of Baroque' brochure
From the 'House of Baroque' brochure
Brochure title page
David and Joyce St Cyr-Sands