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'The kids... looked really great, glittering and reflecting in vinyl, suede and feathers, in skirts and boots and bright-coloured mesh tights, and patent leather shoes, and silver and gold hip-riding mini skirts '

Andy Warhol, Popism: The Warhol Sixties, 1980

Sixties Yves Saint Laurent Art
Constance Wibaut, 'Mondrian' dress by Yves Saint Laurent, International Textiles, 1965/6. Private Collection.

Constance Wibaut regularly reported on the Paris collections for International Textiles. Saint Laurent's homage to Piet Mondrian, the Dutch abstract artist, was the sensation of the season.

From his first collection until his death in 1957, Dior dominated couture. An increasingly wealthy international client list and an enthusiastic following in the United States, led by American fashion editors and with the endorsement of leading stores such as Neiman Marcus of Dallas, which had awarded Dior an 'Oscar' in 1947, meant that the House of Dior soon became the largest in Paris, employing one thousand workers. The New Look was followed by a series of collections based on architectural and geometric shapes, further developed after Dior's death by his assistant, Yves Saint Laurent. In 1961 Saint Laurent set Lip his own maison de couture, followed by a chain of Rive Gauche boLitiques. He became known for such perennial classics as the trenchcoat, the safari suit and, in 1966, le smoking, an evening trouser suit based on the male tuxedo. Describing clothes as 'a form of protest', Saint Laurent challenged the conventions of the couture industry, drawing inspiration from a wide variety of sources rather than developing a 'line', thereby earning from John Fairchild of the influential Women's Wear Daily the title of'the first modern couturier'.

The younger generation of designers in Paris tapped into new sources of inspiration. In the sixties futuristic ideas derived from the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union inspired Pierre Cardin, André Courrèges and Emanuel Ungaro, while Paco Rabanne experimented with alternative materials, such as chainmail and plastic discs. However, despite Dior's success in revitalizing Parisian couture, its exclusivity was now in danger of making it irrelevant. The number of couture houses in Paris fell to an all-time low. Between 1966 and 1968 Saint Laurent, Courrèges, Dior and Givenchy all introduced cheaper ready-to-wear ranges and increasingly relied on perfumes, cosmetics, hosiery and accessories to keep them afloat. It was the branding of these products, rather than the couture itself, that would become the foundation of the industry, generating huge global sales by the last quarter of the century.

In Britain in 1953, Norman Hartnell's coronation gown for Queen Elizabeth was the centrepiece of a spectacular occasion recorded on television for the first time. Television would become one of fashion's chief conduits to its consLimers, a significant element of whom would be the newly affluent teenagers of the postwar years, whose lifestyle and dress were no longer dictated by the older generation.

By the mid-fifties youthful subcultural groups were beginning to spring up on both sides of the Atlantic - groups whose philosophies questioned the status quo, rebelled against authority and expressed their antipathy towards the 'Establishment' through their dress, in the process adopting uniforms of their own. These so-called style tribes ranged from the Parisian left-bank existentialists, the beats and the beatniks, to the teddy boys, mods, rockers and hippies. Elements

Mondrian Trafalgar Square Print
Photograph of the 'Mondrian' dress by Yves Saint Laurent, Autumn/Winter 1965. Courtesy V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum.

Deceptively simple, and yet able to be interpreted in endless variations, the Mondrian dress was soon widely available in cheaper versions on the high street.

of their wardrobes entered mainstream fashion - indeed, some became mainstream fashion - and it was this groundswell of vibrant, young culture, mediated by new artforms, psychedelic drugs and, above all, by the pop music of the late fifties and sixties, that was to undermine the hegemony of the couture and change the face of fashion forever.

The 'youthquake' that took place in London from the late fifties on played a major part in this revolution. Postwar Britain began an economic recovery: state-funded art schools became fertile sources of new talent, producing artists such as Bridget Riley, David Hockney and one of the founder figures of Pop Art, Richard Hamilton. The Royal College of Art established a prestigious Fashion MA course, headed from 1956 by the charismatic Janey Ironside, who nurtured pupils such as Ossie Clark and Bill Gibb. In 1966, the influential US magazine Time featured an article on 'Swinging London', though London had in fact been swinging for nearly a decade. In 1955, Mary Quant, a graduate of Goldsmith's College of Art, had opened her first boutique, Bazaar, just off the King's Road. It soon became a focal point for the 'Chelsea set', selling innovative designs aimed at the younger generation who no longer wanted to dress like their parents. Quant catered to her customers' demands by designing fun, colourful clothes: skinny-rib sweaters, pinafore dresses, coloured tights (now essential with the miniskirt), shiny PVC macs and a makeup range in sleek silver and black packaging decorated with her daisy logo. The miniskirt - that most iconic sixties garment - appeared around 1965. It is often attributed to Quant, though, like Dior's New Look, it was more of an evolution than an overnight innovation.

If Quant changed the face of women's fashion at this time, it was John Stephen, known as 'The King of Carnaby Street', who was largely responsible for the 'peacock revolution', transforming menswear in both style and retailing. His shops sold a range of stylish casual separates and sharply cut suits influenced by the sleek Italian tailoring so beloved of the early mod dandies. By 1966, he owned 22 outlets in London, nine of them in Carnaby Street, by now such a popular shopping destination that it had become a tourist attraction in its own right. Small, independent boutiques proliferated - by 1967 there were reckoned to be at least 2,000 such outlets in Greater London. The Biba boutique opened in 1964; three years later it was estimated that up to 3,000 'dolly birds' a week were buying into Barbara Hulaniclci's 'little girl' look.

The brash commercialization of current fashion soon palled for the stylesetters, led largely by the new pop aristocracy. Psychedelic drugs informed a new aesthetic - a mix of swirling colours, vintage clothing and ethnic influences, particularly evident after the Beatles' trip to India. Previously the Liverpool group had based their image on the mod look - collarless shiny mohair jackets, drainpipe trousers

Biba 1960 Drawing Style
Anonymous (detail), Barbara Hulanicki, from Biba catalogue, 1968/9. Private Collection.

The Biba 'dolly bird', with hair in bunches, huge eyes rimmed with kohl and adolescent figure exemplified teenage fashion.

and chelsea boots. Soon they were subverting fashion and in 1967, on Peter Blake's record cover for Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - the quintessential psychedelic album of the sixties - they were featured in brightly coloured satin uniforms. As a reaction against the war in Vietnam, peace and love became the watchwords of a generation: the King's Road, perfumed by patchouli oil, resonated to the sound of tinkling cowbells.

The hippies in the United States, more politically motivated than their British counterparts, emerged at a time of political unrest. The Black Power movement had arisen in the mid-sixties and student antiwar protests were increasing. San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district became the focus of'flower power': its boutiques provided beads, bells, tie-dyed T-shirts, bell-bottom trousers, and vintage and ethnic clothes for their long-haired customers. The New York underground adopted a more urban style based on Pop Art. Glittering sequins, paper and plastic dresses and 'throwaways' were worn by the in-crowd who bought them from boutiques such as Paraphernalia, an innovative showcase for young American and British designers. There was no more acute observer of this scene than Andy Warhol, who had begun his career in the fifties as a commercial illustrator.

The sixties saw the continuing demise of fashion illustration in magazine publishing. Illustrated covers were occasionally featured and editorial illustration was included by artists such as René Bouché, Alfredo Bouret, Tod Draz, Tom Keogh, and, in England, by Eric Stemp, John Ward and Audrey Lewis. But the medium was on the wane. Eric (Carl Erickson) died in 1958 and Bouché in 1963; they were the last of'the old school' of illustrators, with the notable exception of René Gruau, who continued to make an impact with his dynamic, boldly outlined drawings, most notably for the Christian Dior perfume campaigns. Increasingly illustration was reserved for advertising, or for underwear or accessory features. Magazine art editors, particularly those working for new, high-end publications such as Nova and the revamped Queen, put their resources into photography, which, after years of experiment, was breaking new ground. Photographers and their muses /models became the new celebrities: David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton, Twiggy and Justin de Villeneuve were regularly featured in the pages of the glossies. The iconography of'Swinging London' was evoked by models posing with British 'bobbies', or cavorting in Trafalgar Square, while the influence of hippy fashion (what Warhol called the 'Pakistani-Indian-international-jet-set-hippie-look') was underlined by photo shoots in exotic settings in far-flung places.

The irony was that much of the hippy movement's aesthetic was mediated through graphic design, also currently enjoying a renaissance through pop posters, underground magazines such as Oz, and shop design, but not noticeably through fashion. It was,

Robert Passantino
Robert Passantino, 'China Girl', Women's Wear Daily, 1974. Rapidograph and marker on vellum. Artist's Collection.

In a feature on lingerie, Passantino's clean lines depict Chinese-style pyjamas, adding a touch of 1920s glamour. WWD continued to be printed on newsprint until 1978, dictating monochrome reproduction.

however, in evidence in the teen magazines aimed at the youth market, a number of which were launched during this time. Honey (1961), the first British magazine to use black models Jackie (1964), Petticoat (1966) and 19 (1968) all used illustration as a cheaper alternative to photography. Their customer profile was of young women and teenagers for whom couture and costly designer wear were an anachronism: their role was to inspire and suggest, rather than dictate. And the advice was, Anything goes'.

In the sixties and seventies the trade magazines such as L'Ojficiel de la mode et du couture, International Textiles and Sir used some of the best illustrators of the time, among them Gruau, Constance Wibaut and Tod Draz. In New York, Women's Wear Daily (WWD), revamped in 1960 by John Fairchild, employed a team of staff illustrators to capture the look and feel of the moment, providing up-to-the-minute information for the American rag trade. At this major journal, described as an 'art factory', a galaxy of illustrators (unusually credited with a byline) were given free rein to express Zeitgeist, and produced some of the period's most exciting images.

The mercurial Puerto-Rican-born Antonio Lopez started his career at WWD. Trained at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, Antonio had a chameleon-like ability to change his style with the times, and his work appeared in high-fashion magazines throughout the photography-led sixties and seventies. He moved easily from the Pop Art influences of the sixties through the later psychedelic hippy style, to the nostalgic Art-Deco-influenced fashion beloved of the early seventies. From the late seventies until his death in 1984, Antonio imbued his increasingly descriptive graphic work with an energy and intensity that remain unique in fashion illustration. His was the only such work to feature regularly in the pages of Vogue during this time.

During the early seventies, many designers absorbed elements of hippy chic and tapped into ethnic sources for inspiration. Worldwide recession encouraged nostalgia for a rural Utopian past that was exemplified in Laura Ashley's Victorian-style smocks and petticoats in inexpensive calico and cotton, and Liberty's all-over floral prints. A harder, more futuristic mood was expressed by the emerging stars of glam rock: David Bowie and Marc Bolan dressed in androgynous, glittering costumes in rainbow colours. The trend was for fun, youthful styles - hotpants enjoyed a brief notoriety, and platform shoes added to the clown effect.

The various street styles, from the late fifties on, turned fashion upside down. Subversion was the key; as soon as elements of each style were appropriated by the commercial fashion industry, the trendsetters moved on. And in the second half of the decade, a new underground style emerged which set out to shock and subvert with a look based on the aesthetics of outrage.

Carl Erickson Illustrator

Tod Draz, Original illustration for American Vogue, August 1950. Crayon and watercolour. Courtesy Galerie Bartsch & Chariau, Munich.

A head-hugging cloche hat with turned-back brim by Draz, an American illustrator featured in British and French Vogue, the New York Times and International Textiles. His later style was more impressionistic, with less firm draughtsmanship.

1950 Floral Watercolor Illustration

Bernard Blossac, Original illustration for hat by Legroux for French Vogue, 1950. Pencil and watercolour. Courtesy Galerie Bartsch & Chariau, Munich.

Hats such as this one shaped like flying saucers balanced the wide skirts of the New Look.

Claire Ironside Information Illustration

René Gruau, Original illustration for International Textiles, April 1951. Collection of The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

Like Lepape, Gruau often used a framing device in his drawings. His elegant outline gives impact to the narrow line that ran in tandem with the wide-skirted New Look silhouette.

Alfredo Bouret Illustration

René Gruau, Original illustration for International Textiles, April 1951. Collection of The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

Published monthly in Holland from 1933 to 1988, and then in London, International Textiles is aimed at manufacturers. It forecasts future trends and reports on couture shows.

Hardy Amies Illustrations

Ruth Freeman, Hardy Amies suit for Harrods promotional material, c.1951. Private Collection.

Hardy Amies, who had established himself in 1946, was quick to respond to the demand for ready-to-wear clothing that carried the cachet of a couture label and opened a boutique at his Savile Row premises.

Ruth Freeman Ronald Paterson Coat

Ruth Freeman, Ronald Paterson coat for Harrods promotional material, c.1951. Private Collection.

Paterson was well-known for his classic designs in tweed, of which this is a superb example.

Painting Smoking WomenRuth Freeman 1951

page twenty-five

Ruth Freeman, Arthur Banks evening gowns for Harrods promotional material, c.1951. Private Collection.

Frothy evening gowns are featured in this illustration by Ruth Freeman, a Canadian-born artist who trained at the Slade School of Art, going on to work for Vogue, Good Housekeeping, Harper's Bazaar and She. She also reported on the Paris shows for various newspapers and worked in advertising.

Officiel Mode

Anonymous, Plate from L'Officiel de la couleur des industries de la mode: Cahiers bleus, No. 12, c.1952. Courtesy The Stapleton Collection.

The silhouette of Dior's New Look continued to be a strong influence on other designers. Here a pink tussah silk cocktail dress by Henry à la Pensée is paired with a gaily printed summer frock by Vera Borea.





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Anonymous, Plate from l'Officiel de la couleur des industries de la mode: Cahiers bleus, No.12, c.1952. Courtesy The Stapleton Collection.

Two raincoats by Lanvin Castillo. Jeanne Lanvin died in 1946 and in 1950 Antonio Canovas del Castillo (who had been designing haute couture for Elizabeth Arden in New York) was appointed chief designer. These practical raincoats are made in nylon fabric, swatches of which are attached.

Beryl Hartland Horrockses

Beryl Hartland, Sketch for Horrockses advertisement, c.1952. Artist's Collection.

Horrockses, a major cotton manufacturing firm, was founded in Preston, Lancashire, in 1791. Its range of goods for household use was extended in 1946 with the launch of Horrockses Fashions. Its crisp, high-quality cotton dresses became a staple garment for many women in the 1950s.

Beryl Hartland, Sketch tor Horrockses advertisement, c.1952. Artist's Collection.

Beryl Hartland's illustrations were featured in many newspapers and magazines during the 1950s. Her exuberant style was well suited to the sweeping glamour of this period.

Beryl Hartland

Beryl Hartland, Advertisement for Horrockses, The Queen, June 1953. Private Collection.

Horrockses commissioned well-known artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi and Graham Sutherland to design its prints. The company promoted the glamour of cotton and underlined quality by sending its design team to the Paris collections and placing advertisements in all the high-fashion magazines. Despite their modest cost, Horrockses' dresses were worn by members of the British royal family.

René Bouché, Advertisement for Pringle, The Queen, June 1953. Private Collection.

Pringle of Scotland was founded in the early 19th century and still produces fine cashmere knitwear today. Bouché was among the last of the old-school illustrators. He worked for Vogue until his death in 1963.

Constance Wibaut, California Chic, £!seviers Weekblad, 1953. Collection of The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

Los Angeles casual wear, depicted in a Dutch weekly newspaper {published since 1945}, features skintight capri pants, off-the-sbouider tops and the immaculate grooming for which American women were renowned.

Women Dutch Painting
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René Gruau, Dress by Dior, L'Officiel de la couture et de la mode de Paris, March 1953. Colour lithograph. Courtesy The Bridgeman Art Library.

A vibrant pink flowered dress in silk is worn under a supple silk coat. Dior is now referred to as 'te grand couturier'. L'Officiel de la couture et de la mode was launched in Paris in 1921.

René Gruau, Dress by Givenchy, L'Officiel de la couture et de la mode de Paris, March 1953. Colour lithograph. Courtesy

The Bridgeman Art Library.

Hubert de Givenchy established his house in 1952 and became known for his understated elegance. His most famous client was Audrey Hepburn, for whom he designed many film costumes, including those for Breakfast at Tiffany's in 1961.

Queen Hartnell

Sir Norman Hartnell, Queen Elizabeth II in coronation robes, 1953. Courtesy The Royal Collection.

During 40 years of designing for royalty (for which he was knighted in 1977), Hartnell helped to create the iconic image necessary for the sovereign, as can be seen in his illustration for the Queen's coronation gown. He used his experience in the theatre to create a garment that would work well on the television screen. The white satin gown was richly embroidered with coloured flowers emblematic of the four corners of the kingdom and the dominions.

Horrockses Artists Sutherland

René Gruau, Advertisement for Jaeger, 1954. Private Collection.

A summery dress by Jaeger, for whom Gruau did a long-running advertising campaign that helped to establish a strong brand identity.

Cocktail Mode Constance Wibaut

René Gruau, Advertisement for Jaeger, 1954. Private Collection.

Jaeger has always been known for its quality garments and use of British fabrics and knitwear. A boldly checked overcoat epitomizes its production values.

Tailored by Simpson craftsmen for anyone whose appearance is of first importance, a Daks double-breasted town suit is an asset to its wearer. At the same time lie enjoys the comforl-in-aotion of Daks trousers and the well-balanced cut of the jacket.

Daks Illustrated

Hot, Doks suit from Simpson's catalogue, 1954. Courtesy Daks/Simpson Archive.

A suave businessman in a double-breasted, checked town suit. Details of cut and construction were essential in this kind of publication and could be represented more clearly by illustration than by photography.

Daks Illustration

At Wimbledon or Lords. On the plone to l'aris. At a house party. The Daks leisure suit is single-breasted with patch pockets and is tailored with the same skill that distinguishes the most formal town suit.

Film Kungfu Klasik Jet Lie

At Wimbledon or Lords. On the plone to l'aris. At a house party. The Daks leisure suit is single-breasted with patch pockets and is tailored with the same skill that distinguishes the most formal town suit.

Hof, Daks town suit from Simpson's catalogue, 1954. Courtesy Daks/Simpson Archive.

A single-breasted leisure suit is given extra glamour by the plane in the background. International travel boomed when commercial jet airliners came into operation in the late 1950s.

Photograph of Dior's A-iine suit, February 1955. Courtesy CORBIS/Bettman. Photographer: Stéphane Tavoularis

The New Look was followed by the A-, Y- and H-lines. Dior's A-line suppresses the bust and waist and emphasizes the letter shape with a pleated skirt.

René Gruau, Dior's A-line suit, British Vogue, March 1955. Courtesy The Condé Nast Publications Ltd.

Gruau's mastery of outline allows Dior's design to be depicted in a few assured strokes, again demonstrating the transformative power of illustration.

Constance Wibaut Fashion Illustrations

Constance Wibaut, Original illustration of Balenciaga for Elseviers Weekblad, February 1955. Ink and gouache on paper. Collection of The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

Balenciaga's disciplined styles for summer 1955. Constance Wibaut trained as a sculptor. She illustrated for several Dutch magazines and newspapers, notably, from 1953 to 1969, for Elseviers Weekblad and Elseviers Magazine. During the early 1950s, she also worked for Women's Wear Daily, the Houston Chronicle and the Daily Telegraph, London.

Constance Wibaut Illustration


Constance Wibaut, Original drawing for Elseviers Weekblad, 1956. Collection of The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

Fur-trimmed coats and elegant suits record the trend towards a narrower silhouette. High hat styles imitate the beehive hairdo popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Constance Wibaut, 'Cocktail a la mode'. Original drawing for Elseviers Weekblad, 1957. Collection of The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

The cocktail dress, a postwar innovation, bridged the gap between daywear and formal eveningwear. It was short, but still worn with formal elbow-length gloves.

Alfredo Bouret

Alfredo Bouret, Estrava separates, British Vogue, January 1957. Courtesy The Conde Nast Publications Ltd.

More youthful styles begin to emerge in the late 1950s: 'a new young way to look in the cold...T-shirt tights are an American idea.' Matching tights and tops are contrasted with button-through skirts, one in sapphire mohair and one in purple felt.

Alfredo Bouret Fashion Illustration

Alfredo Bouret, Jocqmor separates, British Vogue, July 1957. Courtesy The Conde Nast Publications Ltd.

'Brilliant velvet at-home pants, coolie length, and a whirling chrysanthemum-print silk shirt in one of Jacqmar's famous scarf designs.'

Anonymous, Advertisement for Kayser Bondor, c.1957. Courtesy Museum of Costume, Bath.

In this advertisement, Kayser Bondor, an Anglo-American lingerie and hosiery manufacturer, appeals to the younger woman. Nylon, synthesized by Du Pont in 1938, revolutionized postwar underwear and hosiery.

Pont Lingerie Ads

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  • PAUL
    What type of paper were patents printed on in 1955?
    8 years ago

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