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Mod Era Designers
Models   Mod Fashions   Early Seventies   Bibliography

Welcome to the Youthquake!

Mod Fashion was introduced to the world of Haute Couture in 1964, although it had been popular on the streets of Britain, and then America, earlier in the decade.  Sixties designers brought a youthfulness to haute couture and changed the fashion world forever. 

It wasn't until 1967 that Barbie left her couture clothing behind and once again became the "teenage fashion model" she was created to be.  Gone were the Cassini "Camelot Era" suit and Dior "New Look" prom gown, the white gloves and pearls.  Barbie entered the Mod generation.  Mattel designers were finally drawing their influence from fashions that had been showing on the catwalks for more than three years...the contemporary, ready-to-wear styles that were currently in demand.  Here are but a dozen of the many sixties designers whose influence I recognize in the Mod Era Barbie fashions.

John Bates - John Bates designed those fabulous catsuits and Mod ensembles for Diana Rigg on her hit television series "The Avengers."  Perhaps his most famous design is an A-line dress with the midriff cut out and replaced by sheer netting.  Voted 1965's Dress of the Year, it can be seen at the Museum of Costume in Bath, England.

Biba (Barbara Hulanicki) - Barbara Hulanicki opened the legendary Biba boutique in London in 1964.  Biba stocked the "total look" in which shoes, tights, and other accessories coordinated with the clothes.  Biba clothing was extremely inexpensive, which fit perfectly the budgets of many young women.  Her earlier designs reflected the youthful styles of the Mod movement.... short, in bright colors and pastels (her first dress was a pink gingham).  But, by the late Sixties, her designs changed to the nostalgic 1930s look in darker mulberries, plums, etc., with longer hemlines. 

Marc Bohan - Marc Bohan succeeded Yves Saint Laurent as head of the House of Dior.  Bohan brought the House of Dior into the Sixties during the early years of the Mod movement.  Under his leadership the House of Dior created youthful lines of clothing such as Dior Sport, as well as bringing simpler construction to the regular line of Dior fashions.  In the late Sixties he explored the ethnic styles of fashions that were becoming increasingly popular, with exotic prints and more fluid shapes.  He continued to head the House of Dior until the Eighties.

Pierre Cardin - Pierre Cardin was a French couturier who adopted Mod styles of clothing in the Mid Sixties.  As early as 1964 his designs became more relaxed, and began to resemble the youthful styles of Quant and other young British designers.  But after Courrèges made Mod fashionable among the couture set, Cardin's designs also became "out there."  He, with Courrèges, was responsible for what became known as the "Space-Age Look," with futuristic designs and helmet-like hats. 

Ossie Clark - Clark started designing clothing for Quorum, a popular London boutique in the early Sixties, joining the company full-time in 1966.  He designed way-out clothing such as hot pants, gypsy dresses and maxi coats.  Many of the fabrics he used were designed by his wife Celia Birtwell.

Andre Courrèges - Courrèges was the designer responsible for bringing the Mod Look to high fashion.  Originally a designer for the master of haute couture Balenciaga, he opened his own house in 1961.  His early designs were very much like other couturiers, with well-tailored, mature and conservative styles.  However, in the fall of 1964 when he introduced his spring '65 line, his models walked onto the runway in white, geometrical dresses with hemlines above the knees.  Go-go boots and helmet-like hats accompanied them. He is credited with inventing the miniskirt, but in reality he just brought it to couture fashion, thus helping to make the mini universal.

Rudi Gernreich - Gernreich, like Mary Quant, was a free spirit in the fashion world. Although he was more of a high-end designer than the youthful Mod designers, he was not stuffy like the French and Italian couture designers of the Sixties.  Gernreich embraced simple lines and youthful styles, and designed many innovative, and sometimes controversial designs.  In 1964, he made headlines with his topless bathing suit, and later a topless dress.  He spearheaded the Total Look movement, where the hose and shoes would match the outfit.  He turned to many ethnic styles of dress for ideas, such as East Indian or Oriental styles.  In the late 70s, Gernreich invented the thong bikini.  See my Moffitt page for a look at his designs.

Thea Porter - Thea Porter: bohemian, advocate of flower power and free-thinker..... Porter started designing clothing in 1964 after running a shop that sold antique carpets and textiles. Her designs were inspired by Eastern and Middle-Eastern textiles before they became widely popular in the late Sixties.  She opened a store in New York in 1968, and one in Paris in the early Seventies.  She promoted the ethnic and gypsy styles of clothing popular in the early Seventies.

Emilio Pucci - Pucci had not originally intended to be a fashion designer.  He had spent many years in America and Italy continuing his education, eventually receiving a doctorate in political science.  Pucci started his career in fashion after he was photographed on the ski slopes of Italy wearing ski pants of his own design.  The magazine Harper's Bazaar, who had photographed these pants, asked him to design winter clothing for women which it published and which were later sold in stores in New York.  Pucci became a sportswear designer in the Fifties, and his vibrant colors first showed up on the ski slopes.  But, he is most famous for his designs of the 60s, notably his psychedelic swirled textile patterns used in dresses and capri pants, and his space-age designs such as Braniff flight attendants' outfits.  See my own Braniff uniforms.

Mary Quant - Mary Quant is credited with many fashion innovations of the Sixties, including the miniskirt, the trouser suit, PVC rainwear, and hot pants.  She opened her boutique, Bazaar, in London in 1955 with her husband Alexander Plunket-Greene, who was as daring and irreverent as she was.  She started designing her own clothes a year later because she could not find the kind of clothes she wanted to stock in her shop.  Her clothes were whimsical and simple in design. She soon branched out into hosiery and cosmetics.  Her popularity continued into the early Seventies, but as fashions changed Quant shifted her focus to items like housewares and home linens.  Her skin care and makeup lines continue to be popular today.

Paco Rabanne - Paco Rabanne began his career designing plastic jewelry for Dior, Balenciaga and Givenchy before turning to fashion design.  These jewelry designs were a prelude to the fashions for which he became famous.  In 1965 he designed a dress made of plastic discs linked together like chain mail.  He designed dresses made of metal squares, discs or triangles joined together, in long or short lengths, and used unusual materials such as crinkled paper and aluminum. He also designed costumes for films such as Casino Royale and Two for the Road.  A futuristic designer, he created the space-age costumes for the 1968 film Barbarella.

Yves Saint Laurent - Yves Saint Laurent's first collection, designed for the House of Dior in 1958, introduced the Trapeze dress.  This was a mid-length prelude to the A-line dresses of the mods, but with exquisite tailoring.  In 1965 YSL started a Pop Art movement in couture fashion when he created his "Mondrian" dress, based on Mondrian's painting "Broadway Boogie Woogie". (Remember the Partridge Family's bus?)  Like Courreges and Cardin, Saint Laurent created daring, contemporary designs that reflected the sixties youthful movement in fashion.

Mod Divider

The ‘Fantasy’ of the Mini
[Paris] - As if to bring a little cheer amid the global gloom, the mini-skirt, born in the peaceful prosperous 1960s, is poised for a comeback.

"The language of the 1960s is back with the mini, the colours, the simpler pared-down silhouette that emerged during those carefree and prosperous times," said Pamela Golbin, a curator at the Louvre's Fashion and Textile museum in Paris. "Images from those years allow today's designers to escape from the current economic and political reality".
[AFP]23-5-03   Tiscali World Online


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