Twiggy in YSL
British fashion is legendary for its wavering, constantly shifting nature. Where else have we truly seen such recognised and profound evidence of rapidly changing style? In fashion, Britain has always been at the centre in sparking worldwide cultural phenomena. From the Jazz-Age styles of the 1920s to the King’s Road Punk looks of the 70s, British fashion represents innovation and experimentation in line with the zeitgeist. Nowhere else on the planet signifies leadership in fashion iconicism as Britain does.
This Jubilee weekend, StyleScoopDaily is celebrating British fashion. Today, my thoughts turn to that most British of fashion inventions, the mini-skirt, and how it transformed the fashion perceptions of a generation. The iconic garment was famously invented by Mary Quant, and shaped the fashion scene of the 1960s.
The rise of youth culture, pop culture, post-war liberation and technology, pushed style to the forefront of the London arena. Suddenly, fashion became a visible medium for self-expression, an expression of musical tastes and lifestyle choices. What you wore ascertained the specific culture tribe to which you belonged.
Contrary to popular belief, the mini-skirt was very much an evolution rather than an overnight revolution. André Courrèges had already begun showing the design during the early 1960s. Even before then, it had been evolving since the late 1950s due to a demand for shorter and shorter hemlines. But this trend had yet to be defined by name.
Like all crazes, it visibly spread on the street. Quant said of it:
‘It was the girls on the King’s Road who invented the mini. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes, in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted.’
Quant subsequently named the new skirt length after her favourite car, the Mini. What set Quant apart, was not just its naming, but its marketing. She launched it as the defining piece of the new ‘affordable fashion’ culture.
In this, she and the miniskirt brought fashion to a previously overlooked demographic. Fashion became accessible to the masses and to the young. Ultimately, she paved the way for how we consume today.