1960s Fashion of Minis and Mods…
Beatnik and biker styles in 1960s fashion
Yves Saint Laurent, who had trained under Dior and was expected to be his successor, alienated his Dior customers when, in 1960, he elevated beatnik and biker styles from street level to the catwalk. A year later he branched out on his own.
Pop Art in 1960s fashion
The result were stunning: dresses influenced by the geometrical style of the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, a collection inspired by the Andy Warhol’s Pop Art prints.
His enduring creation was Le Smoking, a sleek dinner jacket for women. He combined design and retail with a chain of ready-to-wear boutiques called Saint Laurent Rive Gauche.
Pencil Skirts and nipped jackets
In the late 1950s and early 1960s fashion the straight up and down sack dress by Dior and Balenciaga paved the way for tunics and mini-dresses, and women rejected wide skirts for pencil skirts and nipped-in jackets. Yves Saint Laurent at Dior, Balenciaga, Pierre Balmain and Givenchy were all still forces to be reckoned with, but couture as a commercial venture was slowly dying a death.
Mini-skirts from london’s Bazaar
Across the Channel, however, Many Quant launched the mini-skirts from her King’s Road boutique Bazaar, propelling fashion into a new era and setting the seal on London as the new fashion centre.
The mod’s neat, Italian style inspired her minimal, square-cut designs. Her child-like tunics were echoed by Andre Courreges in Paris, who was also going short, but in more robotic, Space Age style. From them on, there was no stopping the mini; hemlines just could not stop creeping up the leg. In 1983 The Times serialised retailer Barbara Hulanicki’s book From A to Biba. She wrote: ‘Every week I thought that we surely couldn’t shorten them any more, but magically there were a few odd inches to go.’
Girl-child 1960s fashion
The transition from New Look to the girl-child in her mini tunics of the late Sixties is similar to the changes between the Belle Epoque and the Twenties. The curvaceous, womanly corseted silhouette once more gave birth to a look of adolescent androgyny and a driving ‘youth culture’. This time around the new look was epitomised by Lesley Hornby, the model better known as Twiggy.
the pill, wage packets, television, the space race to the moon &mdash everything was building up to give greater strength and power to youth culture in the mid-Sixties. The world was opening up before them. Instead of operating under ground, the new ‘Bright Young Things’ were about to take over and influence the mainstream.
1960s fashion London Brands
In Swinging London, ready-to-wear labels were being set up by young men and women to serve their peers, among them Thea Porter, Foale & Tuffin and Ossie Clark for Quorum. London’s young designers shunned the trends from Paris and did their own thing.
Boutiques sprang up everywhere: Bazaar on the King’s Road, Biba on Abingdon Road, Lady Jane in Carnaby Street. New Your Brought the influential shop Paraphernalia and Paris snapped up Dorothee Bis. ‘All classes mingled under the shop’s creaking roof... Their common denominator was youth and rebellion against the Establishment. Young working qirls, the beat offspring of aristocratic families, stars and would-be stars, ‘wrote Hulanicki.
Futuristic 1960s Fashion
The Sixties were a time of rebirth, of experimentation. People were excited about the Space Age. Designers began experimenting with new materials. In the USA, Rudi Gernereich’s research into stretch fabric led him to design topless swimming costumers for the the liberated woman who wanted to let it all hang out. In Paris, Pierre Cardin experimented with plastic and came up with his own fabric, Cardine, for his stiff dresses. Mary Quant used PVC for her wet-look rainwear and there was a brief trend for disposable paper knickers.
The long, sweeping maxi-coat and the trouser suit took off, but the accepted dress for formal occasions was still a skirt, however short. In 1966 society girl Jayne Harris was barred from entering the Royal Enclosure at Ascot for wearing a buttock-skimming micro-mini-dress and was admitted.
The loud print of Emilio Pucci, Emanuel Ungaro, the fluid Art Nouveau romanticism of the Biba style and bright colours peacock-flaunted on Carnaby Street were slowly pushing fashion out of its geometric confines. Fashion was about to turn on, tune in and drop out.
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