The 1960s was a decade of immense optimism, when anything seemed possible. Britain led the way in contemporary fashion – a group of young people was even sent to New York to show off ‘the London look,’ which, according to one journalist constituted a ‘youthquake.’
It was also a time of tremendous change, with fluctuations of skirt length to match. Despite this, early1960s fashion design was noteworthy for its simple geometric shapes and op art inspired textles, like the designs by Foale and Tuffin (pictured above).
The London fashion scene was a-buzz with happening boutiques. Youth culture combined music and fashion in an exhilarating new symbiosis. According to Salman Rushdie, interviewed on BBC’s British Style Genius, the notorious King’s Road shop, Granny Takes a Trip was “colossally cool… the Kathmandu of hippy chic,” smelling, as it did, of “patchouli and what the police called certain substances.” The store even had its own song, released on the Transatlantic label in 1967 – and a promotional vídeo (or should I say film?) starring Jean Shrimpton. However, the Granny Takes a Trip song was banned by the BBC because they thought it was about LSD.
The 1960s was also a time of space exploration – fashions were inspired by the moon and the stars. In 1964, Andre Courreges launched his famous Moon Girl collection. Later in the decade, Paco Rabanne rocked space age chain mail, opalescent celluloid dresses and groovy white mini boots. By 1969, French designers like Pierre Cardin put France firmly back in the driving seat, producing some of the coolest creations in fashion history:
1960s pop art-influenced design experienced something of a revival during the post-modernist ‘80s and early ‘90s. But turn the clock forward 50 years and fashion is taking another, more slavish, trip back to the future with geometric prints, long waistcoats and skirts over hipster trousers.
Marc Jacobs’ latest op art inspired collection for Louis Vuitton, recently launched at Paris Fashion Week, oozes pared down lines (and commerciality, if you’ve starved/stapled yourself skinny and feel inclined to bare your midrif/show your knickers).
As shopping now has more to do with op art-like QR codes, and space has been filled with junk, I suppose the past does seem the most sensible place to be? Of course, London is once again a hotbed of creativity – and some British designers still dare to be edgy… But old is very definitely the new new.
A version of this post appears in Curious Trends at ShopCurious.com