Currently, I’m finishing up my US 401 culminating seminar class, “Those Fab 60′s.” As a perspective grad student, I decided to take the opportunity to receive grad school credit by writing an extra research paper, so naturally I chose to write about the impact the sixties counterculture had on fashion.
Denim was popularized in the sixties and seventies due to it’s association with the antiwar movement.
Via Google Images.
As a general rule, we know fashion is influenced by the values and beliefs of the times, as well as the current events that impacted the way society reacted. Of particular importance would be the Vietnam war and the youth rebellion against the draft, President JFK and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s fashion influence, the “British Invasion” in music talent, and the women’s liberation movement.
For the first time in history, people used clothing to express themselves and share their beliefs with the world. Specifically, denim, which became the symbol of antiwar activism, was worn to show solidarity with the working class AND became a blank canvas to embellish with decorations that expressed peace, love, and rebellion. Hippie fashion also shifted toward Asian inspired garments as the world focused on Vietnam and China. Hippies also became fascinated with the teachings of Asian religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism.
Denim was used as a canvas for to express the wearer’s beliefs of peace, love, and rebellion.
British designer Mary Quant revolutionized Mod fashion, and specifically the mini skirt!
The Beatles also had an influence on fashion–the shaggy Mod hairstyles worn by the band quickly spread to the US following their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Another example of wearable art evolved from the emergence of the “British Invasion,” the trend toward British culture, the Mod movement and British performing artists such as The Beatles and The Doors. Like the hippies, the Mods had very similar interests and a love of brightly colored clothing for men and women. Mod fashion however, was more sleek and cutting edge than the hippies’. Mod styles were adorned with geometric shapes and lines and sometimes were constructed out of unconventional materials such as metallic fabrics and plastics–which were reminiscent of the Space Race.
From Ursuline College’s Historical Costume Collection, student Susan Hayley Fox is pictured in a mod-inspired dress from the sixties.
Yves Saint Laurent took wearable art to a new level by designing the Mondrain dress which was inspired by the contemporary work of art by the dutch painter.
Lastly, the President and the first lady were viewed as style icons. The media allowed the public to have an inside look into the life of the first family and the public fell in love with the Kennedy’s. While JFK’s refusal to wear a hat was detrimental to the haberdashery industry, the first lady’s signature pillbox hat was a blessing for the millinery industry! But Jackie Kennedy’s style was owed to designer Oleg Cassini, with whom she trusted to make her look her best when in the public eye.
To learn more about first lady fashion, check out Dr. Connie Korosec’s fabulous presentation on Live on Lakeside. The interview features items from Ursuline College’s Historical Costume Collection.
Jackie Kennedy was the “It Girl” of the sixties, women wanted to emulate the style and grace she known for. Andy Warhol’s lithograph painting indicates her popularity.
The first lady is pictured in an Oleg Cassini gown with her husband John.
Jacqueline Kennedy also popularized the polished look of a two piece dress suit.