BY HANNAH MAE WEBSTER

The Rising Hemlines of Mary Quant

Among the truly game-changing fashion designers, is one of the most impactful of the decade, Mary Quant. Following the successful opening of ‘Bazaar’, the boutique Quant opened alongside Alexander Plunkett-Greene, in London, 1955, she popularised extra high hemlines, pushing the boundaries of femininity through fashion. This ground-breaking trend became desirable among the youth culture during the 60s, as it moved away from conservative, traditional designs. Not only did Mary Quant make her mark with her rising hemlines, but she also helped popularise coloured tights, skinny-rib sweaters, and hotpants, leading her to become a pioneer of this indulgent decade of fashion.

Quant was popular among icons such as Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, and Grace Coddington.

Space Age Chic

Heavily influenced by the Space Race, fashion adopted a futuristic and extremely modern element. Designers such as Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne and Thierry Mugler created intergalactic inspired collections bursting with futuristic fabrics, silhouettes, and accessories.

Paco Rabanne experimented with materials such as chainmail and metallics to construct the astonishing pieces. Designers went as far as incorporating helmets and goggle-like glasses into their collections, developing a bizarre, yet highly desired aesthetic. The film industry also acted as key inspiration, and Paco Rabanne was involved in the designing of the costumes for the 1968 sci-fi film, ‘Barbarella’, starring the legendary Jane Fonda.  The Space Age trend was about pushing the boundaries of fashion and creating an image of the future. The modern, refreshing feel to this fashion movement contributed to its popularity and success.

Pucci Per Favore

Emilio Pucci was an Italian fashion designer who introduced kaleidoscopic prints bursting with vibrance. Pucci was known for creating clothing that followed the curves of the body through flowing lines. His designs were loved by celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and Jackie Kennedy.

In the 60s, Pucci was nicknamed the ‘Prince of Prints’, due to his eye-catching and unique patterns. The abstract designs of Pucci originated on a scarf design and his prints were heavily inspired by natural elements including Sicilian mosaics, batiks, and African motifs.

The extravagance of the patterns was revolutionary and shot up in popularity during the 60s. The designs emerged on mini dresses, maxi-dresses, leggings, tops, and trousers, and remained a dazzling statement.

Fashion and Feminism

In the late 1960s, a second wave of feminism emerged, which led to youth rebelling through fashion statements such as the display of more skin, supported by Mary Quant’s shorter hemline developments. Furthermore, shapeless silhouettes grew in popularity with models such as Twiggy reintroducing boyish figures, contrasting the curve-accentuating, hourglass from the previous decade.

The ‘Freedom Trashcan’ was a trashcan used by the feminists to dispose of oppressive symbols of femininity, including corsets, stilettos, dish cloths, diapers, cleaning equipment, and bras. This protest, that took place at the Miss America pageant contest, made an important statement about the shackles that women felt trapped by, whether that be socially or in terms of appearance and fashion.

The 1960s was a decade of enormous change and development, with the fashion industry reacting and responding to every movement made by society. The fashion of the 60s is greatly admired because of its ability to adapt in response to the social climate, and act as a creative outlet to a generation of youths daring to push the boundaries. 

In the words of Mary Quant: “Fashion, as we knew it, is over; people wear now exactly what they feel like wearing.”

 

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