I'm currently reading Vintage Fashion - Collecting and wearing designer clothes, which I received as a present last Christmas. Although I live and breathe the 60s I also love the fashions of earlier eras and this book is a great guide to the clothes created by couture houses and designers in the twentieth century. I love looking at couture, mainly from a dressmaking perspective as I love to see the incredible detail that went into making each garment.
In the chapter on the 1960s they have a section entitled "Key Looks of the 1960s" which I thought I would share.
With the moon landing came an avalanche of Space Age clothes, best exemplified by Courrèges with his all-white 'moon girl' collection in 1964. Space-inspired helmets in fetted wool or white leather completed the look, as modelled here by Audrey Hepburn, 1965, in Courrèges.
It was a decade of boots in various shapes and styles. Shiny patent boots that came up to and over the knee in black, white and silver were the trendiest footwear to go with the mini. The other strong boot shape, which originated from Paris, was a mid calf white kidskin boot with a pointy toe and no heel, sometimes with a flat ribbon bow around the top.
Paco Rabanne's resolutely modern designs were made from a variety of unconventional materials. Plastic chainmail and aluminium appeared in silver, black or white. Difficult to work with, chainmail projected a futuristic image that was very much in tune with what women wanted.
Sheer and Transparent
Bodies became the centre of attention with tranparent panels of clear plastic or mesh like netting. Towards the end of the decade see-through clothes became more daring with Yves Saint Laurent's sheer black chiffon blouse and Ossie Clark's gossamer-fine chiffon dresses showing more barely covered flesh than ever before.
By the middle to late 1960s the emphasis had shifted from London to America, and more specifically to the flower children of San Francisco, with their anti-Vietnam chants, long hair and ragbag of utilitarian and ethnic garments. Brocade jeans, frilly shirts, flower-print tunics, Mao jackets and Indian scarves became a street style emulated by most European designers.
Shapes were cut out of dresses to reveal the midsection.
Shiny PVC was used for every item of clothing from over-the-knee boots to mini macs, bags and pinafore dresses. It was easy to colour and to overprint with bold motifs. Connecting circles of hard plastic were popular for belts and earrings.
Huge bug-eyed spectacles in shiny black or white plastic were one of the hottest accessories to match Op Art and Space Age styles. Perfectly round and goggle-like, they were worn more for photographic styling and celebrity 'disguise' than for everyday streetwear.
Maxi and Midi Lengths
Long coats, skirts and dresses were designed as the antidote to the mini. The maxi fell to the ankle, and the midi was cut to mid-calf. Women were given much more choice to decide what length they felt comfortable in, and they often chose to wear both at the same time: midi knit cardigans were worn over short skirts with boots to show a fleeting glimpse of leg.
The most popular shape was an A-line shift that fell in a clean triangular line from shoulder to mid-thigh. Big circular pockets, cutaway armholes and contrast edging around the neck, hem and armholes were defining features. Some were designed to wear over a skinny rib sweater and ribbed tights during the day, or to wear on their own with heels in the evening.
Source: Vintage Fashion: Collecting and wearing designer classics published by Sevenoaks