The 1960s were quite a turbulent time for the world, with political tensions rising and new ideas about equality and feminism emerging. In the sphere of fashion, this led to a sense that anything could happen. Designers expressed themselves freely through their clothing, giving rise to a movement known as New Fashion or the London Look – so named because it was first popularised in London in the 1960s. However, while every period has its key players, few designers have had quite as much influence on fashion as The Beatles and their bandmates in the band’s later years. Their love of colour and reinvention of classic tailoring opened doors for others who followed them into experimentation with style. This article looks at just some of the most influential designers who worked during the 1960s.
Ringo Starr and his menswear brand
Ringo Starr is often overlooked as one of the most influential fashion designers of the 1960s, perhaps because he is best known for his drumming rather than his fashion. However, his label Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band has been a successful venture since the 1990s, producing high-quality and affordable menswear. While Ringo’s clothing may not have been the most experimental of the 1960s designers, it was a key part of the mod movement that inspired many people across the world to push their own creativity with fashion.
Mary Quant and her iconic look
Mary Quant is perhaps best known for her iconic miniskirt, which she created in the 1960s. However, she also revolutionised women’s fashion with her bright and colourful designs, which were inspired by the fabrics of different cultures. Her bold and experimental approach to design was an early sign of the New Fashion movement that would soon lead the way in reshaping the world of fashion. Quant studied fashion at the Chelsea School of Art, where she met her future husband, Alexander Plunkett. The pair worked together on their own label, which was among the first to market a ready-to-wear collection. Quant’s designs were also the first to be promoted by advertisers, and they were a huge hit with young women.
Victor Edelman and his neo-African fashions
Victor Edelman is best known for his colourful and lively designs that drew their inspiration from West African textiles. His brand was among the first to look beyond Europe for inspiration and is credited with introducing many ideas that have since become standard in the world of fashion. Edelman worked as a designer for the British company King’s Road Sock Shop, where he produced a series of printed fabrics that he used to make one-off garments. The bold and colourful designs caught the eyes of London youth who were becoming increasingly interested in fashion and helped launch the Neo-African movement that would shape the New Fashion of the 1960s. Edelman was an early adopter of synthetic fabrics, which were cheaper and more versatile than natural materials. Today, his ideas are seen as the birth of casual fashion.
Alexander McQueen and his platform shoes
Alexander McQueen’s impact on fashion cannot be overstated, as he was a hugely influential designer who was at the forefront of the New Fashion movement. During his 10-year contract with the renowned fashion house Givenchy, he designed clothing and accessories that revolutionised the fashion world. McQueen’s iconic designs include the flying saucer hat, black corset dress, and his platform shoes, which became a signature of his work. The shoes were made from a variety of fabrics including leather, patent leather, and snakeskin. McQueen was an innovator and a risk-taker, and this was reflected in his designs. He used unusual proportions and bold colors and was not afraid to use materials such as feathers. He also broke the rules by mixing fabrics, textures, and patterns in unexpected ways.
Zandra Rhodes and her bold prints
Rhodes began her career as a fashion designer in the 1960s, where she was one of the most influential designers of the era. Rhodes is best known for her bold prints and bold colours, which were at odds with the muted fashions of the 1950s. She also mixed different fabrics and patterns together to create new and unusual combinations, which was a bold move in an otherwise conservative industry. Rhodes’s bold use of colour and pattern is often cited as having influenced the New Fashion of the 1960s.
The 1960s saw a huge shift in the way people viewed fashion and beauty. Designers were experimenting with new ideas, and they were open to drawing inspiration from a wide range of cultures. This openness enabled them to create garments that were more artistic and expressive and allowed women to express their creativity with their clothing in a way they had never been able to before. The Beatles and their fellow bandmates were big fans of fashion, and they inspired many people to take more interest in what they wore. While the 1960s are remembered for its vibrant and creative fashions, the key to this creativity was experimentation. Designers were open to drawing inspiration from all different sources, and this helped to break down barriers between cultures and encourage people to express themselves freely through their clothing.