Up Tied

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Up Tied was an American textile house specialising in tie-dyed fabrics founded in 1968 by the husband and wife team Will and Eileen Richardson and Eileen's brother, Tom Pendergast.[1] They won a special Coty Award for "major creativity in fabrics" in 1970.[1][2]

Company history[edit]

Will Richardson and his wife, who had worked as window-dressers,[3] were given fabric samples by the Rit company, which Will declared he could do better.[4] When challenged by Rit to prove it, Will and Eileen taught themselves in four days to tie-dye, producing a range of fabrics which met with the company's approval.[4] The Richardsons subsequently showed their tie-dyed velvets and chiffons to fashion editors and designers, although with little success until Halston, who admired the technique's "limp, sensuous quality", placed a $5,000 order.[4][3] When made up by Halston, Up Tied textiles were worn by the likes of Ali McGraw, Naomi Sims, and Liza Minnelli.[4][5]

The Richardsons, less than a year in business, were being called the "best tie-dyers in the city",[4] namely, New York City where they had a studio near Chinatown, Manhattan, on the floor above the Chinese American Democratic Union.[6] In 1970, they were awarded a Special Coty Award alongside a number of other designers, such as Giorgio di Sant' Angelo, Alexis Kirk and Clifton Nicholson; whose work combined ethnic themes and influences with fine craftsmanship and an appreciation of folk art techniques.[7] Up Tied's use of what was described as an "ancient Oriental art" of dying textiles fitted in with this theme.[7][1] For the Coty fashion show, Up Tied's section was modelled by six dancers choreographed by Murray Louis.[1]

Along with Halston, the fashion designers Donald Brooks and Gayle Kirkpatrick also used Up Tied fabrics.[1] In 1971, the Richardsons gave a how-to lesson to Look where they demonstrated techniques for creating tie-dye fish and origami patterns upon alongside men's vests to create swimsuit tanks for women, alongside images of military surplus garments which they had customised by dying.[5] According to Eileen, tie-dye fashions represented a "youthful trend away from rigidity and conformity".[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Bill Blass Named to Hall of Fame". The News and Courier. 29 September 1970. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  2. ^ McDowell, Colin (1984). McDowell's Directory of Twentieth Century Fashion. Frederick Muller. pp. 299–301. ISBN 0-584-11070-7. 
  3. ^ a b Weinger, Erin (19 April 2008). "Fashions to tie-dye for". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "The Psychedelic Tie-Dye Look". TIME Magazine. 26 January 1970. Retrieved 14 December 2012. (subscription required)
  5. ^ a b "Tying Up the Best Tie-Dyes in Beachwear". Look Magazine. 1971. 
  6. ^ Harris, Joann (Nov 22, 1970). "Small Outfits Make It Big In Tie-Dye". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Lambert, Eleanor (19 September 1970). "Ethnic Theme Monopolises Front Seat in Fashion". The News and Courier. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Hoffmann, Frank W.; William G. Bailey (1994). Fashion & merchandising fads. New York: Haworth Press. p. 257. ISBN 1560243767.