By the 1960s, the empire of fashion had begun to break up into various style tribes. The coming of age of the postwar baby boom generation, together with a strong economy, led to the rise of an international youth culture that completely revolutionized the fashion system. “Youth quake” styles were closely linked to popular music, especially in London, where young women first started wearing miniskirts, while men dressed like peacocks. Forth fashions were soon followed by stylish versions of hippie anti-fashion. Despite the rise of influential new designer and popular trends, the time had clearly passed when a single designer could dominate the look of a season or decade the way Dior once had with the “New Look” of 1947. Italy, Japan and New York became new centers of fashion.
Fashion History from 1960 – 1970
Until the 1960s Paris was supposed to be the center of fashion only. Prior to the 1960s fashion designers generally created styles for runway shows and clothing manufacturers mass produced the designers’ styles for the general public. At that time the youth generation with a power and culture that was all their own, now at an age to speak out, began to rebel against traditional clothing styles and created their own fashion trends. As a matter of fact, after trying to move forward with their traditional creations, fashion designer couldn’t keep up with their specific trends and implement the youths’ popular creations into clothing for the masses. Even indomitable and matured women adopted a girlish, hip-style with short skirts and straightened curves in the 60s. Not to mention that at the start of the decade skirts were knee-length, but steadily became shorter and shorter until the mini-skirt emerged in 1965.
A huge variety of clothing became popular beside the short miniskirts, including bell bottoms, hot pants and blue jeans. It was no longer shocking for women to wear pants on a daily basis. The basic shape and style of the time was simple, clean cut, neat and especially young. Synthetic fabrics were very widely-used during the 1960s. The colors of the styles were both clear and bright at the same time, very much mirroring the mood of the period. Hats weren’t worn anymore, only to special occasions and flat boots also became popular with very short dresses in 1965. Later on the boots even rose up the leg and reached the knee.
Emilio Pucci and Paco Rabanne were two very influential fashion designers in the 1960s. Emilio Pucci’s sportswear designs and prints earned him a very high reputation of the high society. His sleek shift dresses, tunics, and beachwear, created a ‘Puccimania’ that liberated the female form in the 1960s. Paco Rabanne on the other hand produced resolutely modern designs, created garments from aluminum (Rhodoid) and pieces of scrap metal. His designs, as well as being experimental, were also closely in tune with what modern adventurous young women wanted to wear. Rabanne was also the first fashion designer to use black models in the conservative world of haute couture.
The principal change in menswear in the 1960s was in the weight of the fabric used. The choice of materials and the method of manufacture produced a suit that, because it was lighter in weight, had a totally different look, with a line that was closer to the natural shape of the body, causing men to look at their figures more critically. The spread of jeans served to accelerate a radical change in the male wardrobe. Young men grew their hair down to their collars and added a touch of color, and even floral motifs, to their shirts. The polo neck never succeeded in replacing the tie, but the adoption of the workman’s jacket in rough corduroy, and especially the Mao jacket proved to be more than simply a political statement.
The Swinging Sixties:
Fashion History from 1970 – 1980
The decade began with a continuation of the hippie look of the late 1960s, with afghans, Indian scarves and floral-print tunics. Jeans remained frayed and bell-bottomed, tie dye was still popular, and the fashion for unisex was mounting then ever.
Due to the choices for available clothing that had become very diverse, it was nearly impossible to tell the do’s and don’ts in fashion by the 1970s. The “anything goes” in terms of fashion was increasing during these two decades of rapid social revolution and holds on until nowadays, at least for the freedom of choices.
Jeans became an accepted part of the American fashion scene in the 1970s. Heading to the more casual sportswear, the American fashion designers adapted the best of what they learned from Europe to the massive American clothing industry. Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren became widely known in America after designing clothes for the men and women of a new world. It could be said two styles dominated fashion in the U.S.A. during the 1970s – the tailored, unisex look and the fluid, unstructured style with a strong feeling of the 1930s glamor and elegance.
Kenzo Takada and Sonia Rykiel were the most influential fashion character to that time in France. Kenzo drew his inspiration from all over the world, mixing Western and Oriental folk influences with a fantastic ‘joie de vivre’ (joy of life) and an instinctive understanding of what his young customers wanted. He literally turned the fashion world upside down with his unusual prints, fluid lines and clever combined accessories. Sonia Rykiel, the so-called queen of knits in 1974, designed her first sweaters with reversed seams. She created a whole range of clothes that were extremely individual and yet could be worn almost anywhere.
Men’s fashion changed more in the 1970s than it had done in a whole century. The typical male look was defined by narrow shoulders, tight-fitting lines, no tie, no interfacing, zip-up boiler suits, waisted jackets or tunics, sometimes even without shirt. Fashion designer of that time adopted the unisex look and transformed it even to the work clothes, like traditional suits and changed them to a more informal style therefore. Designers also introduced a revival of the 1930s elegance in men’s wear. The unearthing of old military clothing, preferably khaki and from the United States, English-style shoes, Oxford shirts, immaculate T-shirts, tweed jackets with padded shoulders, and brightly-colored V-neck sweaters.
A huge change in fashion was also the influential increase of Italian’s fashion. Milan confirmed its status as the second center of international fashion after Paris. Capitalizing on the dominant trend of anti-fashion, Italy offered a glamor that had nothing to do with the dictates of Parisian haute couture. While profiting from a clearly defined style, Italian fashion was luxurious and easy to wear. The two most influential Italian fashion designers of the time were Giorgio Armani and Nino Cerruti. Armani’s first women collection in 1975, was dynamic, urban, and understated, androgynous in inspiration. Nino Cerruti presented his first women collection in 1976 while he was pursuing a menswear boutique in Milan for 19 years. A high-quality designer of taste and discernment, Cerruti occupied a unique position in Italian ready-to-wear.
Haute couture is dead, welcome to the 1970′s fashion:
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