Tuesday, 1 May 2012


The 1960s were a great time to be young. Youth culture and youth fashions, which had begun to take shape in the fifties, blossomed as never before. Young people in the West were benefiting from the post-war industrial boom and had begun to refashion themselves accordingly. Fashion split the age groups and allowed freedom for the imagination, freedom for creative styles that the teenage population adopted. The new freedom of youth made itself felt on both sides of the Atlantic, and it also began to make ripples farther afield—in Japan, Africa, and Eastern Europe. The charts were virtually taken over by young, even teenage artists, who were making the music young listeners most wanted to hear. Biggest of all were the Beatles, four young men from Liverpool, England, who had begun by playing to packed nightclubs in England and Germany before storming the world stage in 1963. The Beatles’ clothes and hairstyles became the most familiar symbols of the new youth culture. In the mid-sixties, Motown, a record company under African American ownership, began to take a dominant share of the singles charts. Motown launched the careers of megastars like Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder. Instead of taking a rebellious stance, Motown promoted a smart, stylish image.  

Quant had been designing and manufacturing her own clothes since the late fifties, but the young, fun fashions she designed began to take off in the atmosphere of the early sixties. Her high point was undoubtedly the launch of the miniskirt—a fashionable skirt that rose eight or nine inches above the knee and stayed there, at least until the arrival of maxi and midi lengths in 1969–70.  

In the early sixties, the Soviet Union seemed to be well ahead of the United States in the race to space. In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed one orbit of the earth. President Kennedy declared publicly that the United States would catch up, and in 1962, John Glenn became the first US astronaut to orbit the earth. Apollo 8’s flight during Christmas 1968 placed men for the first time in orbit around the moon—by far the most spectacular space flight to date.

The new decade had begun to show its true face by 1963. This was the year of worldwide Beatle-mania, and it was also the year that the mod cult erupted in Britain. Mods personified the early years of the Swinging Sixties—youth, mobility, fashion, and an intense interest in soul and R&B music. By the mid-sixties, they had begun to fade out.
Twiggy was undeniably the face of the sixties. 

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