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The Fashion That Was: The Sixties and How it influenced the Fashion World by Phillip Johnson:
While there is a tendency to think of the Sixties as a whole unified decade, in terms of fashion it must, in fact, be viewed as two separate and quite distinct parts (if not more), with the early years clinging doggedly on to modifications of Fifties styles and the later years exploding into the wild fashion frenzy for which the decade is possibly best remembered. The 1960s was an important decade for fashion because it was the first time in history that clothing was geared towards the youth market; and featured a wide number of diversified trends. It was a decade that broke many fashion traditions, mirroring social movements during the period. Previously, fashion houses designed for the mature and elite members of society; however, during the enormous social and political revolution that transpired in the mid-Sixties, the power of the teenage and young adult market was too great to ignore. They led with new and radically innovative fashion styles, with little girl/woman androgynous looks for women that swept away the sophisticated sweater girls of the early sixties.
Fashions in the early years of the decade reflected the elegance of the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. In addition to the pillbox hat, women wore suits, usually in pastel colors, with short boxy jackets, and over-sized buttons. Simple, geometric dresses, known as shifts, were also in style. For evening wear, full-skirted formal gowns were worn; these often had a low decolletage and had close-fitting waists. For casual wear, Capri trousers were the fashion for women and girls.
Stiletto-heeled shoes were widely popular. As the traditional men’s suit drifted away from pale, toned shades, menswear was now bright and colorful. It included frills and cravats, wide ties and trouser straps, leather boots and even collarless jackets. Ties were worn even five inches wide, with crazy prints, stripes and patterns. Casual dress consisted of plaid button down shirts with comfortable slacks or skirts. In the middle of the decade, culottes, box-shaped PVC dresses and go-go boots were popular. The widely popular bikini came into fashion in 1963 after being featured in the musical “Beach Party”.
It’s easy to associate all 1960s fashion with short skirts, but the short skirt was not really worn by many until 1966 and not nationwide until 1967. Just as in the 1920s, for half a decade clothes still showed signs of belonging to the late fifties. The fore runner of the mini dress, the straight shift, which had developed from the 1957 sack dress, was still well below the knee. Pleated skirts set on a hip yoke basque were worn with short sleeved over blouses which were cut not unlike the shell tops of today. Straight skirts had front and back inverted pleats called kick pleats and were ideal for doing the twist dance craze as they allowed the knee to move freely. Straight sweater dresses in lambswool or the synthetic acrylic variety called Orlon were worn belted with waists nipped in became fashionable. Pencil skirts were still worn with sweaters or even back to front cardigans that had been pressed super flat. Before the days of tumble dryers, many women lay their washed rung out knitwear in paper tissue and then brown paper. They put it to dry under a carpet for two days. When it was removed from the tissue, the footsteps that had pounded over the knit gave it a flat dry cleaned as new appearance. Laundering of delicates could still be a problem, but everything changed when mass produced synthetic garments arrived.
While focusing on colors and tones, accessories were less of an importance during the sixties. People were dressing in psychedelic prints, highlighter colors, and mismatched patterns. The hippie movement later in the decade also exerted a strong influence on ladies’ clothing styles, including bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye, and batik fabrics, as well as paisley prints.
Most importantly, in the early to mid-1960s, the London Modernists known as the Mods were shaping and defining popular fashion for young British men while the trends for both sexes changed more frequently than ever before in the history of fashion and would continue to do so throughout the decade. The Mods (short for Modernists) were characterized by their choice of style different from the 1950s and adopted new fads that would be imitated by many young people. As the Mods strongly influenced the fashion in London, 1960s fashion in general set the mode for the rest of the century as it became marketed mainly to young people. They formed their own way of life by creating television shows and magazines that focused directly on their lifestyle. They were known for the Modern Jazz they listened to as they showed their new styles off at local cafes. They worked at the lower end of the work force, usually nine to five jobs leaving time for clothes, music, and clubbing. It was not until 1964 when the Modernists were truly recognized by the public that women really were accepted in the group. Girls had short, clean haircuts and often dressed in similar styles to the male Mods. The Mods’ lifestyle and musical tastes were the exact opposite of their rival group known as the Rockers. The rockers liked 1950s rock-and roll, wore black leather jackets, greased, pompadour hairstyles, and rode motorbikes. The look of the Mods was classy; they mimicked the clothing and hairstyles of high fashion designers in France and Italy; opting for tailored suits, which were topped by anoraks that became their trademark. They rode on scooters, usually Vespas or Lambrettas. The Mods’ dress style was often called the City Gent look. Shirts were slim, with a necessary button down collar accompanied
by slim fitted pants Levi’s were the only type of jeans worn by Modernists. Flared trousers and bell-bottoms led the way to the hippie stage introduced in the 1960s. Variations of polyester were worn along with acrylics.
Carnaby Street and Chelsea’s Kings Road were virtual fashion parades. By 1966, the space age was gradually replaced by the Edwardian, with the men wearing double-breasted suits of crushed velvet or striped patterns, brocade waistcoats, shirts with frilled collars, and their hair worn below the collar bone. Women were inspired by the top models of the day which included Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Colleen Corby, Penelope Tree, and Veruschka. Velvet mini dresses with lace-collars and matching cuffs, wide tent dresses and culottes had pushed aside the geometric shift. Hemlines kept rising, and by 1968 they had reached well above mid-thigh. Those were known as “micro-minis”. This was when the “angel dress” made its appearance on the fashion scene. A micro-mini dress with a flared skirt and long, wide trumpet sleeves, it was usually worn with patterned tights, and was often made of crocheted lace, velvet, chiffon or sometimes cotton with a psychedelic print such as those designed by Emilio Pucci. The cowled-neck “monk dress” was another religion-inspired alternative; the cowl could be pulled up to be worn over the head. For evening wear, skimpy chiffon baby-doll dresses with spaghetti-straps were the mode as well as the “cocktail dress”, which was a close-fitting sheath, usually covered in lace with matching long sleeves. Feather boas were occasionally worn.
The Kings Road in Chelsea became one of the main clothes centers of Sixties London, following the success of a small lane behind Regent Street near Oxford Circus, called Carnaby Street. These were the fashion shrines of British youth in the early to mid Sixties. By 1965 Carnaby Street had become the mecca for boutiques, with all the latest clothes for the dedicated fashion followers of ‘Swinging London’.
The most influential retailer there, having great success in getting men to follow fashion as much as women did, was John Stephen, a grocer’s son from Glasgow. He acquired his first boutique in 1963 and ended up owning ten shops in Carnaby Street with names like ‘Male West One’, ‘Mod Male’ and ‘His Clothes’. He also owned a similar number around other areas of the capital as well as at least two in Brighton. Although John’s name is inextricably entwined with the gimmickry and ‘fad’ perception of ‘Carnaby Street’ fashion, he also had a very good understanding of other aspects of the business, including updates on classic styles of ready-made suits. For example, in 1968 he was advertising ‘Mohair, cashmere, wool and worsted jackets and suits…cut with the flair of John Stephen designs – but gently’. Other Carnaby Street establishments included ‘Lord John’ owned by Warren and David Gold and ‘Lady Jane’ owned by Harry Fox. in 1967 there were more than 2000 ’boutiques’ registered for business in the Greater London area.
Away from Carnaby Street another leading London fashion name was Barbara Hulanicki who started ‘Biba’ as a mail-order operation in 1964 with her ad-man husband Stephen Fitzsimon. They felt that the price of designer goods was far too high for most people and adopted and promoted the ‘use for a while, throw away and buy more’ marketing philosophy. Barbara designed her own fabrics, generally using combinations of ‘art deco’ and ‘art nouveau’. The business really took off when the Daily Mirror featured one of their gingham dresses at under £3 and orders started to pour in.
Hulanicki’s ultra modern, affordable and attractive styles made her a cult figure in the fashion business leading, in 1963, to her opening the BIBA boutique in Abingdon Road. Dark wood screens, low lighting and pop music gave the place the air of a discotheque and potential customers were actively encouraged to go inside and try whatever they liked. The largest store was opened in Kensington High Street in 1969, which had an all-black 1930s style décor with twenty or more potted palms and even more hat stands. Selling Biba clothes, Biba make-up, Biba everything! it survived until 1973 when it moved to the old Derry & Toms store in Kensington, finally closing it’s doors in the mid-seventies.
Another trendy place to shop was Cecil Gee on Shaftesbury Avenue. Fashion boutiques with bright lights, colors and pop music opened with enthusiasm all over the country. Of course, to display the clothes to their best effect, fashion models were required and the big names in fashion modeling were Jean ‘The Shrimp’ Shrimpton and Lesley ‘Twiggy’ Hornby, known as The Face and The Image of the Sixties respectively. Other top Sixties models were Patti Boyd who married Beatle George Harrison, Penelope Tree, Paulene Stone, the incredibly tall Veruschka and willowy Peggy Moffitt. In 1964 the World In Action program produced by Granada Television made an edition called ‘The Face On The Cover’ in which a TV crew followed Jean Shrimpton on modeling assignments in New York and London.
Terence Conran (later Sir Terence Conran) had set up his own furniture-making business in 1952, which started in a basement studio in London’s Notting Hill. In 1956, The Conran Design Group was founded, initially
as part of the furniture-making business. Fast becoming a leader in raising design awareness, he opened his first ‘Habitat’ store at 77 Fulham Road in May 1964, concentrating on modern furniture and home accessories. Conran provided innovation and good design at affordable prices, much of it imported from Europe. Habitat soon introduced Swinging London to a range of French cookware, displayed in a simple, austere environ of white-painted walls and quarry tiled flooring. Fashion-conscious Londoners flocked to his first shop, with customers such as John Lennon, Mary Quant, George Harrison and Julie Christie all buying their furniture there. The staff’s uniforms were designed by Mary Quant herself.
Mary Quant and the Mini Skirt
Starting with designer Mary Quant who is credited with the invention of the iconic miniskirt (designed in response to the youthful, fun-loving attitude that was spreading throughout the country), the capital became known as “Swinging London” and soon brightly colored streamlined fashions were all the rage in Europe and America . By 1966 Mary Quant was producing short waist skimming mini dresses and skirts that were set 6 or 7 inches above the knee. (It would not be fair to suggest she invented the mini skirt because in 1965 she took the idea from the 1964 space-age designs by Courreges and liking the shorter styles, she made them even shorter for her boutique, Bazaar. She is then rightly credited with making popular a style that had not taken off when it made its earlier debut.) Quant found London girls seeking newness only too willing to try her new daring short mini skirt and the fashion trend took off because it was so different; and to wear it well, you had to be youthful to get away with an outfit that was so controversial, particularly among adults. The Quant style was soon known as the Chelsea Look. The shapes Quant designed were simple, neat, clean cut and young. They were made from cotton gabardines and adventurous materials like PVC used in rain Macs. They almost always featured little white girly collars.
But that’s not the whole story when it comes to the “invention” of the miniskirt. John Bates was one of the most influential British designers of the 1960s and many fashion historians consider him the true unsung hero and inventor of the mini skirt. Long before Mary Quant, his mini dresses were the shortest, had the barest midriffs and the models wore the least undergarments – he preferred a bra-less silhouette. In 1959 he had set up the Jean Varon label and later a label under his own name. His influence in the sixties was such that he dressed Diana Rigg in The Avengers series. Other celebrities of the day such as Twiggy, Sandie Shaw, Jean Shrimpton and Dusty Springfield all wore his fashion designs. But so did the masses as he also designed for important key department stores in the UK.
John Bates has never been given enough credit for his role in the rise of the mini skirt. The facts are that John Bates was making shorter skirts long before any others. But Mary Quant was the facilitator of this novel idea who was really noticed. She got the mini skirt out among trendy young girls about town and it soon became copied and popular everywhere. Miss. Quant also sported a sharply cut geometric hairstyle; the 5 point cut created and popularized by Vidal Sassoon. Taken together, the hairstyles and the short mini-skirts and min dresses were the signature look for the better part of the decade.
By 1964, bell-bottomed trousers were a new alternative to the capris of the early 1960s. They were usually worn with chiffon blouses, polo-necked ribbed sweaters or tops that bared the midriff. The look of corsets, seamed tights, and skirts covering the knees had been abolished. The idea of buying urbanized clothing, which could be worn with separate pieces, was quite intriguing to women of this era in comparison to previously only buying specific outfits for certain occasions. For daytime outerwear, short plastic raincoats, colourful swing coats and dyed fake-furs were popular for young women. In 1966, the Nehru jacket arrived on the fashion scene, and was worn by both sexes. Suits were very diverse in color but were for the first time ever, fitted and very slimming. Waistlines for women were left unmarked and hemlines kept getting shorter and shorter.
By 1968, the androgynous hippie look was in style. Both men and women wore frayed bell-bottomed jeans, tie-dyed shirts, workshirts, and headbands. Wearing sandals was also part of the hippie look for both men and women. Women would often go barefoot, and some even went braless. Fringed buck-skin vests, flowing caftans, Mexican peasant blouses, gypsy-style peasant skirts, long flowy scarves, and bangles were also worn by teenage girls and young women. Indian prints, batik and paisley were often the preferred fabrics. For more conservative women, there were the “lounging” or “hostess” pyjamas. These consisted of a tunic top over floor-length culottes, and were usually made of polyester or chiffon. Picture Liz Taylor at home with a martini in her hand and you will get the picture.
Another popular look for women and girls which lasted well into the early 1970s was the suede mini-skirt worn with a French polo-neck top, square-toed boots, and Newsboy cap or beret. Long maxi coats, often belted and lined in sheepskin, appeared at the close of the decade. Animal prints were also popular for women in the autumn and winter of 1969. Women’s shirts often had transparent sleeves. Psychedelic prints, hemp and the look of “Woodstock” came about at the same time.
Ultimately, what made the mini really acceptable was the introduction of pantyhose, otherwise known mostly today as tights. It was hard to wear a mini dress with stockings and feel confident, but with tights there was protection from the elements and no unsightly glimpse of stocking tops. As a result, stockings died in the mid 1960s and were only revived as leg wear in the 1990s or else kept for the bedroom. Likewise when tights were first introduced in the 1960s, it also liberated women from girdles, roll-ons and suspender belts. It’s difficult to know which came first – the skirt or the tights, but the introduction of seamless stockings had started the tights revolution. What is certain it is unlikely the one could have existed without the other as no groomed young lady ever went out bare legged then. A pair of Wolsey tights cost about £1 in 1965 and with careful daily washing they could be made to last a month. Marks and Spencer was soon churning out lower cost versions at a rapid pace. Obviously planned obsolescence has been introduced since then for all brands, as most of us now find it difficult to make them last for more than a day or two’s wear. Tights in the late 60s were often patterned with arrangements of diamonds or other graphic motifs and a favorite color of the era was a golden brown called American Tan. Fishnet tights were also briefly popular and Lurex glitter tights in gold or silver were a hit for the Christmas period.
Pinafores and knitted twin sets were still worn, but often the items were worn as separates. Square, V or round neck pinafore dresses in plain or tartan wool fabrics were paired with polo neck jumpers or tie neck blouses. Other combinations were burgundy plum pinafores worn with white or mustard blouses. A sleeved variation of the button through version of the pinafore was called a coat dress and it was worn with or without a skinny rib fitting sweater and often with a half belt at the back waist. All clothes were narrow shouldered and cut in at the armholes to properly reveal the arm and its shoulder joint. Even short sleeve versions were set well into the armhole.
Baby doll dresses of 1966 were full and flared into tent shapes mostly with cutaway armholes or/and a halter neck. They were made of transparent tulles, lace or chiffons plain or tree bark mounted over a matching lining or could be made of crinkled cotton crepe fabrics. Lace of all types from Broderie Anglaise to guipure to with crocheted effects over colored linings or flesh toned linings were often seen. Black polo neck sweaters made popular by the Beatles cover album were often worn under check pinafore dresses. The dresses were usually solid colors of red or purple wool material. You could also find checks of black and white such as dog or hound’s-tooth or the iconic Prince of Wales check. Black and white was a sixties combination and was used in op art dresses and block pieced dresses worked in Mondrian style. Black patent accessories complimented all these combinations.
One of the easiest ways to get the sixties look was to wear short little colored gloves with a hole cut out to reveal the back of the hand. The gloves were similar in appearance to golf gloves of today. Along with the gloves, colored plastic beaded raffia knit bags and plastic colored bangles (Bakelite and other materials) and chandelier earrings made of large sequin discs were all high fashion accessories that lasted about 5 years.
Swimwear, particularly the bikini (a more revealing version of the earlier two-piece swimsuit) had been commonly available since 1959, gradually becoming smaller until, in 1964, Rudi Gernreich hit the fashion headlines with his infamous ‘topless swimsuit’. He was also responsible for the highly revealing bra-less body stocking fashion of the time. These items exposed breasts for the first time in commercially available fashion and almost instantly became an international controversy. They were allegedly designed as a symbol of women’s liberation – as Gernreich himself stated, “…in fashion, as well as every other facet of life.” The topless swimsuit soon led to the topless dress, and also gave birth to another revolution, the ‘no-bra bra’ which effected quite a change to the fit of clothes and was somewhat more acceptable in public.
Lower kitten heels became a dainty alternative to stilettos. Pointed toes gave way to chisel shaped toes in 1961 and to an almond toe in 1963; which in turn led to the trendy white go-go boots. These shoes were often made from patent leather or vinyl. And because The Beatles wore elastic-sided boots similar to Winkle-pickers with pointed toes and Cuban heels, They were also known as “Beatle boots” and were widely copied by young men in Britain and America. Flat boots also became popular with very short dresses in 1965 and eventually they rose up the leg and reached the knee. A cult for Dr. Scholl clog sandals worn in offices and outdoors was all the rage in the mid to late sixties in the same way that Birkenstocks were popular in the 1990s.
Outdoor looks were achieved by using fabrics like wool, Terylene or cotton gabardine, corduroy, leather, suede or mock suede fabrics made up as car coats. Also cheaper alternatives such as padded nylon diamond quilted anoraks or cotton anoraks with toggles and Austrian peasant embroidered braids were quite common. Although the mini dominated for the most of the decade, women sometimes needed a practical alternative smarter than jeans that could be worn day or evening. Quite formal trousers worn with a tunic, shirt, skinny rib or matching suit jacket were acceptable in c
ertain work situations and liked as alternative evening wear when made from slinkier materials. Trousers were made from Courtelle jersey, cotton velvet, silky or bulked textured Crimplenes, lace with satin, and Pucci style printed Tricel. Hipster versions were popular and very flared versions developed by the late sixties, with every style ultimately translating into denim jeans. Its worth noting that the hipsters of the 60s were not quite as low cut along the pelvic line as low rise jeans of the 2000’s.
The ’60s also gave birth to the skinny jeans, worn by Audrey Hepburn, which again became popular with young men and women in the first decade of the 2000s. The late 1960s produced a style categorized of people who promoted sexual liberation and favored a type of politics reflecting “peace, love and freedom”. Ponchos, moccasins, love beads, peace signs, medallion necklaces, chain belts, polka dot-printed fabrics, and long, puffed “bubble” sleeves were additional trends in the late 1960s.
Many of the fashions of the 1960s existed because of the fabrics used and invented at the time. They introduced new fabric properties and when synthetics were mixed with natural fibers there was improved performance in wear. Some had been invented years earlier in the 1930s and 1940s, but it was only in the 60s that huge production plants for synthetic fibers sprang up globally. In the United Kingdom in the 1960s, Marks and Spencer was instrumental in bringing Elastomerics from America to their range of bras, corsetry and bathing wear. Other manufacturers and fashion retailers soon followed. Du Pont and ICI were the giants of synthetic manufacture producing a wide range of fabrics under trade names relating to Polyamide, Polyesters, Polyurethanes, Polyolefins, and Polyacrylonitriles the polyvinyl derivative. All the fiber bases could be used as bulked or fine yarns dependent on fiber extrusion method and final finishing. The name often related to the country or plant where the fiber was produced. For example, Enkalon was Irish-made nylon whereas Crylor, an acrylic yarn was made in France.
Polyamide is nylon and it came under trade names such as Nylon 6, Celon, Enkalon, Perlon, Bri-Nylon, Cantrece and others. Polyester was known variously as Terylene, Dacron, Terlenka, Trevira, Kodel, Diolen, Tergal and Lavsan. Polyurethane is the generic name of the elastomeric family of stretch fibers like Spandex, Lycra and Spanzelle.
All these man-made synthetic fibers were commonly used in bras, underwear, swimwear and sportswear. Lycra eventually found its way into fabric mixes to aid crease recovery, wearing ease, fit and stretch, creating cotton/lycra blend, etc. Polyvinyl derivatives produce polyacrylonitriles and this includes Orlon, Acrylic, Crylor, Courtelle and Creslan. Modified acrylics such as Dynel and Teklan were first used to make fake furs and fake hair for wigs in the sixties.
Quite apart from being ‘The Summer Of Love’, 1967 was also the ‘Year Of The Turtle’ according to fashion paper The Daily News Record. Turtle in this case being the turtle-neck sweater which doubled both as an acceptable alternative to a collared shirt and tie with a suit or a completely informal top with almost anything else. The garment had been around since the 20’s, being a favorite of Noel Coward, but re-emerged in the Sixties both as a Beatnik favorite and, later, celebrity fashion as popularized by such as Bobby Kennedy, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Sammy Davis, Jr., and James Coburn, among others.
Other more or less popular ‘fads’ of the Sixties included false fingernails, false eyelashes ( male mods often used eye makeup or mascara to enhance their looks ) and, for some reason, disposable paper knickers. ‘Disposable’ clothing really reached its zenith around 1966 – 68 (estimated sales in the US in 1967 were between 50 and 100million dollars!) but was generally more of a gimmick than a viable alternative. Society was adopting an increasingly ‘throw-away’ attitude and disposable cutlery, children’s diapers and cigarette lighters were already commonplace. Throw-away clothes, furniture etc. were the next logical step. Even NASA had considered producing paper clothing for future space-travelers. The Scott Paper Company pre-empted them when, in a 1966 publicity stunt, they released their psychedelic paisley shift, a dress that cost $1.25. It originally came in two designs, a black and white Op Art motif and a red bandanna pattern. Scott advertising described the paper dress as “created to make you the conversation piece at parties. Smashingly different at dances or perfectly packaged at picnics. Wear it anytime…anywhere. Won’t last forever…who cares? Wear it for kicks — then give it the air.” They sold over half a million in the USA in six months. When paper clothing hit the UK’s shores in 1967, even the Beatles got in on the fad and wore paper jackets in public. However, disposable clothes were not really much cheaper to make than ordinary dress production and that was that.
Bow ties became a popular unisex accessory, and a revival of 19th Century fashion brought back the ‘choker’ – a collar of pearls or fabric, gleefully known as the ‘dog collar. Another accessory to ‘come back’ into fashion in 1964 was the wig, particularly when it was discovered that The Supremes used them on stage. Wigs were also used by men, notably Andy Warhol (who owned more than 500 including silver, blue and white).
Rolling Stone musician and trendsetter Brian Jones initially set the tone in 1965 with his trademark bowl-style haircut; but that changed dramatically towards the end of the decade as the time changed, men’s hats went out of style, and was replaced by the bandanna, if anything at all. As men let their hair grow long, the Af
ro became the hairstyle of choice for African Americans. Mop-top hairstyles (popularized by The Beatles and other musical groups of the time) were most popular for white and Hispanic men, beginning as a short version around 1963 through 1964, developing into a longer style worn during 1965-66, eventually evolving into an unkempt hippie version worn during the 1967-69 period which continued in the early 1970s. Facial hair, evolving in its extremity from simply having longer sideburns, to mustaches and goatees, to full-grown beards became popular with young men from 1966 onwards. Women’s hair styles ranged from beehive hairdos in the early part of the decade to the very short styles popularized by Twiggy just five years later to a very long straight style as popularized by the hippies in the late 1960s. Between these extremes, the chin-length contour cut and the pageboy were also popular.
There were also the famous ‘Beatle’ wigs (which were one of the best selling pieces of pop-related merchandise ever) although the band themselves made very little from the marketing of them after manager Brian Epstein failed to recognize the potential. A variety of fashionable ‘groovy’ wigs were also created and marketed by John Stephen which found considerable popularity with trend-setters. In the latter part of the Sixties the ‘afro’ wig also enjoyed popularity with both sexes.
The top name in hairdressing during the Sixties was undoubtedly Vidal Sassoon whose customers included Mary Quant, Jean Shrimpton and Mia Farrow who he famously flew to America for, when she wanted her hair styled, while she was on set making ‘ the film Rosemary’s Baby’. (That haircut became rather famous because Frank Sinatra, her husband at the time, became very furious at her because she did it without his permission. Talk about control issues!) Born in the East End of London in 1928, he had worked for ‘Teazy Weazy’ Raymond until 1955 and by the time the swinging Sixties arrived, he had his own salon in New Bond Street. Creations of his included the ‘bob cut’, the ‘five point geometric cut’ – the neat swinging line as used by Mary Quant and Nancy Kwan, the ‘One-eyed girl’, the ‘Asymmetric Isadora cut’ and the ‘Greek goddess’ styles.
These ‘modern’ hairdos had taken over from the popular but troublesome ‘beehive’ style . In this, the hair was back-combed to give it massive height and volume, styled, and then set in place using huge amounts of hair lacquer. Together with stiletto heels, it could make a girl look up to a foot taller than she really was! Styles for women varied considerably, new ‘cuts’ being created on a regular basis covering a very wide variety of ‘looks’, but settling down to the simpler, long, shoulder length (or longer) hairstyles of the mid to late Sixties, via the chin-length heavily fringed or center-parted Mod look. Another name commonly believed to have been a top hairdresser* under yet another name – Christian St Forget – was Justin de Villeneuve (real name Nigel Jonathan Davies ) who was probably more famous for his ‘discovery’ of, and relationship with, the fifteen year old Neasden girl Lesley ‘Twiggy’ Hornby. Born in London’s East End and a genuine ‘Cockney’, Justin was evacuated to a Herefordshire manor house during World War 2 where he was a guest of writer J.B.Priestley. He went on to become a photographer, collaborating on pictures with Klaus Voorman (who created the Beatles ‘Revolver’ cover) and Erte. He photographed Henri Lartigue in 1968, and created the Marsha Hunt “silhouette” poster.
Twiggy’s boyish ‘crop’ hairstyle was actually created by Len Lewis who was better known as ‘Leonard of Mayfair’. He also takes the credit for creating the ‘mop top’ style of The Beatles who were brought to him by Brian Epstein after their sojourn in Germany in order to ‘smarten up’ their image. Len had been a protégé of Vidal Sassoon and, working with colorist Daniel Galvin, his own salon at 6 Upper Grosvenor Street saw many famous visitors including Judy Garland, Liz Taylor and even John F. and Jackie Kennedy when they were in town. The ‘In’ hairdresser for the mods in the early to mid Sixties was John Anthony’s salon in Twickenham. Hair styles for men gradually lengthened as the decade progressed, through the ‘mop-top Beatle’ style, the raised-back Mod style and the longer, more casual ‘Rolling Stones’ style to the shoulder length hair favored by the hippies of the later Sixties, often worn in permed ‘Afro’ style.
Best known for being the time of civil rights and serious political activity, the 60’s wasn’t just responsible for changing the country’s political and cultural background, it also strongly influenced the way African Americans dress and viewed themselves. Early in the 60’s, you could catch an African American male sporting what was called is a conk. The conk was a hairstyle made popular among African American men. Coming into the 60’s, the conk was popular because blacks were still in the mindset of whites being superior so they would have their hair chemically straightened to resemble the hair of a white man. The style later fell out of popularity with the emergence of the black power movement and one of its trademarks, the Afro.
Becoming popular in the 60’s, the Afro quickly became a symbol of African American pride. The Afro was much more than just big hair. It gave African Americans the chance to embrace their ethnicity and to not feel socially forced to copy white hair. The irony of that situation was that, while Blacks were embracing their “roots” so to speak, Whites started to copy them, thus creating what has to be one of the most lasting images of the 60’s: The White or Jewish Afro.
Cassandra Elsaesser : Stylist of the Fashion Maniac team
Whitney Curry : Beauty & Hair Stylist of the Fashion Maniac team
Dani Weiser : Beauty & Makeup Artist of the Fashion Maniac team
Kimberly Cohen : Castings Director of the Fashion Maniac team
Phillip Johnson : Features Editor of the Fashion Maniac team
Cheryl Gorski : Managing Editor & Photographerof the Fashion Maniac team
Todd Warfield : Set Designer of the Fashion Maniac team
Lucy Mancuso : Accessories Prop Stylist of the Fashion Maniac team
Michael Merisola: Furniture Prop Stylist
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Fashion in the 1960s.
The young people of the 60’s were sick and tired of the old rules and the conservative society. They wanted something new, and this was the decade of optimism. During the post-war period, people had time to re-build, both financially and socially. People had more money and the young people often earned money on their own in addition to get allowance from their parents. Therefore, the young people were able to create their own identity, separate from those of their parents. For the first time ever in any fashion era, the young became the leaders of fashion. This, along with sexual revolution, the space race, curiosity for other cultures, The Vietnam War and Woman’s Liberation Movement was some of the happenings, ideas and thoughts that changed fashion for ever.
The different colour combinations that were formed in the 1960s were exiting. They represented that people were more free and happy after the post-war period and they were very different from the conservative look that dominated the 50’s.Patterns inspired by op-art were dramatic and people had never seen anything like that before.
Women wearing clothes inspired by the op-art. Op-art was also very popular when it comes to art and interiour.
Designer Mary Quant invented the mini-skirt, which became very popular in the late 60’s. Girls wore both short dresses and skirts which showed their legs. This was very different from the 1950s, where the skirts were much longer. At this time, people became more open-minded about sex. People, especially girls, dressed more daring than before and they were not afraid to show skin. The invention of the birth-control pill along with sex becoming more explicit in movies and musicals, along with fashion, opened for a sexual revolution.
Fashion icon and model Twiggy made the mini-skirt famous.
The young generation was not afraid to show themselves and to do controversial thing anymore, but the older generation was not accustomed with this type of fashion, so for many of them, this came as a shock. Men often let their hair grow long (especially hippies), and for the African American, the afro became the hairstyle of choice. This was very controversial at that time. Boys were supposed to have a neat hairstyle, but the young generation wanted to make changes, and so they did. These fashion trends took off because they were so different from what have been and to wear them, you had to be young, to be able to get away with such a controversial outfit.
Men with afro and long hair; very controversial.
Clothes that were inspired by the space race between Russia and USA became very popular and different materials were used such as discs of metal, plastic linked together with wire, leather and PVC. Metallic and neon colours were also popular.
Clothes inspired by the space race between Russia and USA.
The young people were now freer than ever and they wanted to make drastic changes. They managed to do so, but still there were some places where they were not allowed to dress the way the wanted to. For instance, most schools had dress codes, and girls were not allowed to wear pants of any kind and boys were not allowed to wear blue jeans.
People started to travel a lot more in the 1960s and the hippie culture, where everything was free and where everything was supposed to be explored, lead to interest and curiosity for other cultures. This led to a swarm of new fashion styles, for instance ethnical looks, such as The Oriental look and African/Middle Eastern looks. Music also had an influence on fashion, such as Jimi Hendrix and his hippie and ethnic clothing, and The Beatles with their Mod-style.
Jimi Hendrix, famous for his music and ethnical/hippie style.
Flower Power was a slogan used in the late 1960s and 1970s as a symbol of the non-violent ideology. The slogan was invented in opposition to the Vietnam War. People who were in opposition to the Vietnam War were called hippies. They used flowers as a symbol for life, love and peace and they created a hippie culture. Their culture reflected the way they dressed. They dressed in flowery clothes and wore flowers in their hair and around their necks. Both men and women grew long hair, and women should just wear little or no make-up. The clothes were often wide and large, symbolizing the freedom the hippies represented and the colours were very natural, which was symbolic for nature. The style also included bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye and batik fabrics and paisley prints.
Country Joe McDonald in a hippie outfit.
As mentioned earlier women started to fight for their rights in the 1960s. Some women made a “Freedom Trash Can” where they threw objects such as bras, heels, hair curlers, girdles and women magazines or magazines who focused on appearance, such as Cosmo and Playboy. Instead, these feminists started to wear pants, clothes that weren’t figure-hugging and clothes that weren’t necessarily made for women. Some women stopped wearing bras, and bra-burning was popular among the feminists.
Woman burning a bra.
Fashion in the 60’s compared to now.
There are both similarities and differences when it comes to what affected fashion in the 60s and today. Today’s society is more open and things are not as controversial as it was back then.
In the 60s, the hippies protested against the Vietnam War and expressed themselves through clothing. Today, there are rather few hippies and there is no such thing as a specific style protesting a certain cause. Nevertheless, we have got single garments like t-shirts, jewellery or scarves which can state opinions. In the past years, t-shirts with statements have become very popular. Many people wear t-shirts for instance to show what politics they support or if they are against nuclear weapon.
T-shirt saying: “Stop Bush’s Oil War”.
In the 60s, the young people wanted change and differences from the old and they provoked the older generation with short skirts and jeans. Jeans were supposed to be used while working and boys and girls were forbidden to wear blue jeans in school. It seems like their fighting for change somehow made it through, because today, jeans and mini-skirts are usually not provoking. Jeans are used by both sex and by all age groups. After the 60s, the jeans have become more and more popular and it is always in fashion, though we have seen many different kinds over the years. When a new fashion trend came along, in the 1960s, it usually stayed for a while. When it comes to the 21st century, fashion changes very fast. Fashion today is not very specific. Every season usually has garments inspired by different decades, mostly from the 20th century. The world have seen a lot of different fashion styles over the years and trends come and go, so we barely have time to be provoked anymore. Fashion today is like a mix of different styles over the years, cultures, statements, lifestyles and personal style. We dare to express who we are through what we wear and things are more accepted today, than it was before.
Even though fashion does not provoke as much as it did in the 60s, there are still happenings were people are provoked. Especially the older generation can feel that the young generation’s fashion is offensive because all of them haven’t experienced the globalization within fashion. Still, it is not as big generation gap as people experienced in the 60s.
Due to globalization and immigration, we have got different cultures closer to us and many of us live in a multicultural society. We are constantly surrounded by cultures, whether it is in real life or on television or computers. One can say that in that little part the hippies in the 60s were influenced by other cultures has now grown a lot and it is not particularly strange for us to see for instance an African in a national costume.
Most of us live in a multi-cultural society.
Music has a huge affect on fashion today, as well as in the 60s. We can express what kind of music we like, through what we wear. Also, actors, singers and models have an influence on fashion today, just like in the 1960s.
Today’s fashion is affected by the world and everything in it, just like in the 60s. But today people are engaged with different causes, which lead into many different fashion styles. When it comes to the 60s, many people were engaged with the same cause, which led into just a couple of different fashion styles, compared to today.
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