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If we all cast our minds back to the 60s, I imagine we all think of Woodstock, hippies, drugs and The Beatles. What these were actually part of was an amazing, defiant counter-culture. What you usually had was a dominant, mainstream culture: a collected way of living. The 60s, however, a decade that had seen a massive baby boom, cold war tension, political discontent, welcomed anarchy. This counter culture – a culture that opposes the mainstream collective – became so dominant in numbers, and the strength of beliefs, that it had enough recognition to be noted as a culture alongside the mainstream. For a fashion writer, this is the pinnacle of all topics, as this decade denotes how fashion became truly demonstrative as an extension of ourselves; the freedom of creative expressive.
Here is my homage to the defiant, the revolutionary, the rebels of the conservative – the 60s youth culture.
You know the type – the posters that look like a geometric maze of clashing colour, but when you stare at a fixed point, the shapes start to move in an optical illusion. Well this really took off in the late 50s, early 60s and it radically influenced the patterns used on clothing. Men and women alike would wear garments with garish, abstract patterns in bold colours that emphasised their youth, their freedom and their independence from the norm.
TWIGS & THE MINISKIRT
Our Twiggy pioneered the mini skirt, revealing the legs of every adolescent. Twigs is the emblem for the swinging sixties and the face of the mod scene. Whatever she wore, even designed, the girls would all follow suit, such is the case with the mini skirt. The girls began to show more skin, something unheard of previously; in concordance with the fashion evolution and increasing awareness of their sexuality, something which was off-limits and unheard of to their older generations.
Girls were completely varied. Long hair was made into intricate and skyscraper-high designs and short hair was styled into boyish, pixie crops like Twiggy. The men are who changed the most. Men traditionally had suave, slick styles but this era saw men growing hair longer than their girlfriends. Finally, how can we forget the afro? The 60s saw big, bouncy, beautiful afros epitomising the carefree exuberance of the young.
Cast your mind back to GCSE history, the Soviets and the Americans battled in a full-on Space Race with each other. For fashion this was seminal, with new materials and clashing textures on the catwalk. Plastics, wires, transparent fabrics with underlays, were only some of the innovations. Metallics became a massive thing as did the sacrilege that is neon.
PACIFISTS & FLOWER POWER
People who peacefully opposed the Vietnam War were hippies. They coined the term ‘flower power’ as a means to communicate their peace and prevalence of nature. They wore flowers as accessories, their clothing was printed in flowers – they just were fans of the floral. Who’s to judge? Their political views transferred outwardly through their clothing as a means of expression. Oh, and they loved bell bottoms too.
Feminists were taking heed of Twiggy’s boyish crop. They started defending their womanly principles and did this through fashion. They would wear loose fitting clothes to emphasize their freedom and independence. They would avoid figure- hugging clothing as they objectified their bodies. Bra burnings became the common Wednesday night social.
We learnt a lot from the youth of the 60s. For example; they made jeans everyday wear, they gave us the miniskirt – a lot of you appreciate that – they showed us that individualism and expression is good, we got the Rolling Stones and The Who and truly began to value fashion as both an art form and a way of expression. Thanks to the 60s, a decade of true enlightenment and all round cool.