The sixties

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The success of designers likes Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin and Hubert de Givenchy in the 1940s and 1950s paved the way for other young designers in the 1960s. Yves Saint Laurent who worked for Dior opened his design house in 1962 and his first boutique in 1966. Other notable designers that were influential in this decade are Emilio Pucci, Paco Rabanne, Mary Quant, Milo Schoen, Nina Ricci, Valentino and Franco Moschino. Each of these designers contributed a form of innovation to fashion development. For example, Yves Saint Laurent was one of the first designers to create a complete collection per season, and Emilio Pucci introduced the use of the print in luxury apparel. The 1960s also witnessed a rapid growth of the Italian influence in fashion and the expansion of the accessories market, including the Italian invention of the stiletto.

The social temperance of the 1960s highly favoured fashion. Society gravitated towards women's liberation and fashion became one of the most visible ways of portraying the new woman. The designs of Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior all embodied the new woman's freedom. Women's independence also extended to the adoption of fashion as a trendy vocation, leading to the emergence of several fashion schools in Europe and America.

The 1960s was also the first decade of the popular and youth culture movements. People became non-conformist to fashion dictations and began to express their individual attitudes and mood through their clothing and accessories. British designer Mary Quant played a key role in this social order through her unconventional approach to fashion. Her eccentric style, introduced at a time when the fashion society craved a revolution, contributed to her success. The pop culture of the 1960s would later lead to other fashion culture spin-offs such as the punk culture of the 1980s.

Towards the end of the 1960s, designers also became bolder and more experimental, using materials such as metal, plastic and wires to design clothes. These generated great press coverage and became a tool for the later utilization of haute couture for publicity rather than for commercial gains.

This decade of great fashion moments also ushered in the era of the 'Designers as Celebrity', which is still prevalent. However, fashion designers were not the only popular group. Other celebrities especially Hollywood stars and international icons, notably America's first lady Jackie Kennedy, also contributed to the growth of fashion in the 1960s.

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