The 1960s is one of the most exciting fashion decades of the twentieth century, where British pop and youth culture created a stylish look that set trends all around the world. This book reveals how the 1960s British look was inspired by social changes and championed by innovative new designers like Mary Quant. Their unconventional designs spread rapidly from ...
The 1960s is one of the most exciting fashion decades of the twentieth century,
where British pop and youth culture created a stylish look that set trends all around the world. This book reveals how the 1960s British look was inspired by social changes and championed by innovative new designers like Mary Quant. Their unconventional designs spread rapidly from small fashionable boutiques on Carnaby Street to Main Street thanks, in part, to rock stars like The Who, models like Twiggy, and celebrity photographer David Bailey.
The initial tremors of what would become the "youthquake" of the 1960s came with the emergence of the teenager in the previous decade. Incarnate in Britain first as the Teddy Boy, the teenager was symbol of the growing distinctions between the generations, and with increased economic means, in a time of almost full employment, they were identifiable as a lucrative consumer market. But it was their peers who really gave young people what they wanted, and a new breed of designers and retailers was soon at the helm of British fashion. When twenty-one year old Mary Quant opened her first boutique Bazaar, in 1955, in the King’s Road, London, she established something of a template for other young designers, however quixotic. Quant had much of the stock made up overnight in her Chelsea bedsit, ready for the next day, and bought fabric by the yard from Harrods. Such youthful enterprise would later pulsate through Carnaby Street and its independent boutiques, and the most remembered face of British fashion in the decade, Twiggy, began her modelling career when she was only sixteen.
The very pace and experimentation with which fashion was now inscribed echoed the petition of young people for change; for many, their lives would be very different to those of their parents, and in 1960s Britain fashion would reflect social and cultural change in an entirely unprecedented way. While comparisons with the 1920s can sometimes be made – between the young flapper freed from restrictive dress, wearing make-up and bobbed hair, and the young urbane independent woman in her Quant mini-skirt – the 1960s were quite singular in the opportunities and choices they provided young people. While there were certainly ambiguities – for instance, in regard to the "permissive" sixties, marriage was not as instantly unfashionable among young people as is often thought – this was, most particularly, a decade in which the extraordinary changes in fashion and style, and in attitudes towards the body, were articulate of shifting concepts of selfhood and identity in a newly consumerist culture.