20
Oct 17

One Of The First Black Female Fashion Models

Introduction

Today, I thought I’d talk about another of the black female fashionThe first Black supermodel models who worked in the 1960s. As with Donyale Luna and Naomi Sims, Helen Williams was labelled as ‘the first black supermodel’. She was thought to be the first African-American model to get mainstream exposure through advertising.

Here’s some more about her.

Into fashion from the start

Helen Williams was born in East Riverton in the US state of New Jersey in 1937. She enjoyed fashion at a very young age, and was already making her own clothes by the tender age of seven.

As a teenager, she studied dance, drama and art before taking her first job as a stylist at a photography studio when she moved to New York at the age of seventeen.

While working at the studio, Williams’ beauty was noticed by celebrities visiting on separate occasions. These included Lena Horne, who was already famed as a singer, actress and civil rights activist. Sammy Davis Jr, who was also a huge celebrity in the 1950s, spotted her too. Both encouraged the young stylist to make a career out of modelling.

From New York to Paris

Helen Williams’ career as a model developed when she became the feature model in magazines such as Ebony and its’ sister publication Jet in the 1950s. These were specifically targeted at an African-American readership.

However, when Williams tried to find other work, she found racism rearing its’ ugly head. Despite not being especially dark-skinned, she was still seen as ‘too dark’. This ‘colourism’ also came from other African-Americans within the black fashion world.

In 1960, Helen Williams followed the footsteps of models that came before her such as Dorothea Towles and moved to Paris. Once there, she found she was much more celebrated. The fashion world referred to her as ‘la belle americaine’ .

Some of the designers Williams modelled clothes for included Christian Dior, where Yves Saint Laurent was the head designer, and the couturier Jean Dessès.

Back in the USA

In 1961, Helen Williams returned to the United States in the hope that the tide had turned towards an appreciation of beauty in all shades. Unfortunately, nothing had changed.

Fed up at rejection after rejection by modelling agencies in New York City, Williams turned to the press to help her cause. After the issue of the exclusion of black fashion models was publicised by the influential New York-based journalists Dorothy Kilgallen and Earl Wilson, her career took off. Within that year, Williams was earning $100 an hour ($810 an hour in today’s money).

Print advertisements that Williams appeared in included Budweiser and Kodak. As well as publications targetted at black audiences, these adverts also appeared in mainstream publications read by white Americans. The New York Times and Life Magazine were just two of them.

Helen Williams was also one of the first clients of the Grace de Marco modelling agency in New York. Established in 1946 by the African-American model-turned-entrepreneur Ophelia DeVore, the agency was one of the first in the United States.

After modelling

Helen Williams’ modelling career continued throughout the 1960s. In 1970, she retired and returned to her previous occupation as a stylist.

Williams now resides in her home town with Norm Jackson, her husband of 40 years who she met while modelling.

In 2004, the not-for-profit organisation Fashion Arts Xchange gave Helen Williams the Trailblazer Award at a ceremony hosted at the Fashion Institute of Technology. This recognised her role as one that lit the way for other models of colour to come after her.

Conclusion

I know people keep talking about ‘the first black model’, but Helen Williams was really the first one to have entered the mainstream American consciousness. Despite the frankly ridiculous notion that she was too dark-skinned to be beautiful, she grew to be celebrated.

Did you enjoy this post? Please let me know what you think by commenting below. Please also share this post on social media!

(Other sources – Too Black For America: 1950s Model Helen Williams – The First African American Fashion Model,
Helen Williams (model))


13
Oct 17

Top African-American Fashion Designers From The Sixties

Introduction

Continuing the series of posts for Black History Month, I wanted toPencil sketch of a shift dress talk about some of the best black fashion designers from the 1960s. Whether today or back then, they weren’t common place, especially in the UK. Therefore, this post focuses on the top African-American fashion designers who found fame both within and outside the USA.

Arthur McGee

After having graduated from FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology, part of the State University of New York) in the 1950s, Arthur McGee was the first African-American to run a design room at an established apparel company (Bobby Brooks).

In 1962, McGee opened his own boutique on St Mark’s Place in New York City and soon developed a loyal following from the top fashion fans of the time. Customers loved his African and Asian-influenced designs.

Arthur McGee is most well-known for mentoring other African-American designers who came after him in the 1970s and 1980s, such as Willi Smith.

Stephen Burrows

Another graduate of FIT, Stephen Burrows started designing his own clothes while in his first fashion job. By 1968, Burrows was selling his clothes at O Boutique (236 Park Avenue South, New York City). This included an all-white collection which was featured in the 23rd June 1969 edition of New York Magazine.

In the same year, Burrows also had a boutique within Henri Bendel, an upmarket department store in New York. This was after a meeting with the owner Geraldine Stutz.

By the 1970s, Burrows became one of the first black fashion designers to be recognised worldwide. He was the first African-American to be a winner of the Coty Fashion Award in 1973. He is still dressing celebrities today including Oprah and Naomi Campbell.

Scott Barrie

Arriving in New York in 1962, Scott Barrie (born Nelson Clyde Barr) was designing clothes from his apartment and selling them to independent boutiques. After Bloomingdales and Henri Bendel bought some of his designs, he was able to open his own showroom on Seventh Avenue in 1968.

Barrie became even more popular in the 1970s, with his speciality being silk jersey and chiffon clothes wrapped and draped around the body. His sexy and daring clothes were worn by fashionistas in New York, as well as London, Milan and Tokyo.

Famous fans of Scott Barrie’s creations included Naomi Sims.

Jon Haggins

Soon after graduating from FIT in 1964, Jon Haggins had opened up his boutique. Two years later, his first collection came out into the world. Just like Scott Barrie, soft slinky matt jersey that skimmed over the body was the dominant fabric used. Celebrities such as Diana Ross were fans of Jon Haggins’ clothing.

After closing his studio in 1972, Haggins took up a career in singingStack of four vintage suitcases of different colours before returning to fashion full time in 1980. He then became a travel writer and motivational speaker. He also hosts and produces a travel programme, GlobeTrotter TV.

Haggins’ fashion archive, including video and photos, is held at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library.

Wesley Tann

One of many independent dressmakers in New York City, Wesley Tann was the first African-American man to open a salon on New York’s Seventh Avenue. His career began to take off in the 1950s and continued throughout the 1960s.

Trained at Washington DC’s Hartford Art School of Fashion, Tann’s designs were influenced by what was happening in Paris (rather then in London) and could be found in high-end department stores such as Neiman Marcus.

Tann designed for an elite clientele, including Jackie Kennedy who he designed some maternity dresses for!

After closing his salon in 1973, Wesley Tann moved to New Jersey where he enjoyed a second career as an etiquette expert.

Conclusion

Wow! This has been yet another fascinating and enjoyable post to research. I’d never heard of any of these fashion designers until now, and they all have great stories to tell. Do you have any of their items in your wardrobe? Have you seen them being worn?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post – please comment below and share on social media!

(sources – The 25 Greatest Black Fashion DesignersBlack Fashion Designers – Fashion Institute of TechnologyScott BarrieJon Haggins Bio)


06
Oct 17

African American Fashion Models In The 1960s – Naomi Sims

Introduction

As it’s Black History Month in the UK, I thought I’d focus my attention on Quote from Naomi Simspeople of African heritage within the 1960s fashion scene. For the first of my posts, who better to talk about than the woman who was one of the first African American fashion models to follow in the footsteps of the trailblazing Donyale Luna?

Naomi Sims is the model from the 1960s who most people remember as ‘the first black supermodel’. Of course, Donyale Luna had already found fame by the time Sims came to prominence!

Her stunning appearance on the October 17th 1969 cover of Life magazine encapsulated the ‘Black is Beautiful’ vibe of the latter half of the decade. Beyond modelling, Naomi Sims is also known for being an entrepreneur after retiring from modelling in 1973.

Here’s some more about her.

A model student

In 1966, at the age of eighteen, Naomi Sims won a scholarship to New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. This was and is still one of the top fashion schools in the world.

As well as studying textiles and management at FIT, she also took a night course in psychology at New York University.

It was Sims’ classmates who persuaded her to consider taking up modelling to bring in some extra income while studying. The 5’10” teenager went to all the modelling agencies in New York to see if they’d take her on, but was repeatedly rebuffed. The reason? She was considered too dark-skinned to be successful (and therefore to make the agencies money)

Instead, Sims approached fashion photographers directly. This led her to Gösta Peterson, who worked for the New York Times. Peterson was already well-established in the business, having recently been the first photographer to take Twiggy’s picture when she first came to the US.

Peterson’s image of Sims appeared on the front of the Autumn 1967 fashion supplement of The New York Times, which was the first one of an African American model in their history.

Naomi Sims then approached Wilheimina Models, an agency run by the former model Wilheimina Cooper. Sims made a deal with Cooper – she’d send out copies of the front cover with the agency’s contact details on, and they’d get a commission if she managed to get work. Cooper agreed, and Sims’ career took off!

Below are Naomi Sims’ most famous magazine covers – as well as the Life one, she was the first black model to appear on the US magazine Ladies’ Home Journal in November 1968.

Taking a stand

While Sims was at the height of her modelling career in 1972, she was offered an acting role. This wasn’t an uncommon thing to happen to models of the time.

However, the role was as Cleopatra Jones in the Blaxploitation film of the same name. Sims turned down the role, as she believed that this type of film perpetuated racist stereotypes of black people. Fellow model Tamara Dobson accepted the part instead.

What’s in the oven?

After Naomi Sims retired from modelling, the entrepreneurial streak in her really came out! She noticed that the majority of wigs available had hair that was modelled on European textures. This was despite a significant number of wig wearers being people who had Afro hair.

As part of her development of a synthetic fibre which most closely mimicked relaxed Afro hair, Sims experimented with baking man-made strands of hair in her own oven until she found the perfect texture.

Despite the smell possibly putting the household off their dinner, Sims’ wig business was a success with the African American community. Within five years, international sales came up to $5m a year (over $22m today).

Dear Naomi…

As well as running a multi-million pound beauty business, Naomi Sims also found the time to write a total of four books. Published between 1976 and 1982, these talked about beauty and hair care for black women. Sims also authored books on how to enter the modelling business and how to achieve success in your chosen field.Letter starting with 'Dear Naomi'

Sims also had an advice column in the teenage magazine Right On! This US-based magazine was aimed at teenage black girls into music and fashion.

Conclusion

Naomi Sims was a trailblazer of her very own! Her presence on the fashion scene in the 1960s paved the way for more models of colour to come through and enjoy success.

This will be the first of a series of posts this month talking about black people in the 1960s fashion scene, so keep coming back for more!

What did you think of this post? Please comment below and share on social media!


29
Sep 17

What Came Next After Modeling In The 1960s?

Introduction

Fashion models in the 1960s such as Twiggy and Donyale Luna wereWhat next after being in front of the camera? some of the most photographed women of the decade. They truly became household names and fitted in with the youthful energy of the time.

But have you ever wondered what came next after modeling in front of the camera? So far, this site has already talked about what Twiggy, Donyale Luna, and Veruschka did after their careers ended. Today, I’ll talk about the interesting careers that some models in the sixties had later on in life.

Peggy Moffitt

This Los Angeles-born actress turned model had the iconic Vidal Sassoon five-point hair cut and the dramatic black eye makeup that personified up the creativity and the thinking outside of the box that the 1960s encouraged.

After her friend, the designer Rudi Gernreich, died in 1985, Peggy Moffitt took over the rights to his designs. In 2012, she arranged for them to be displayed as part of a retrospective at the Los Angeles Museum of Creative Art’s Pacific Design Center.

More recently in 2016, she launched a signature active wear collection which is only available online. These items in a wide range of sizes included leggings, yoga pants and even a bodysuit – all constructed in luxurious fabrics which were exclusive to the range. Subsequent collections have also been created.

Léon Bing

The co-star of Basic Black has had an interesting life after modelling. Léon Bing became an award-winning freelance journalist before writing the first of her books in 1991, Do Or Die. This was a real-life account of the lives of teenage gang members in South Central Los Angeles. Red typewriter on a black leather seat

Léon Bing also wrote two other books based on the investigative journalism she undertook before publishing her memoirs in 2009. Swans and Pistols: Modeling, Motherhood, and Making It in the Me Generation talks about her celebrity friendships, Hollywood and life in the 1960s (amongst other things…)

Pattie Boyd

Having appeared on the front covers of British, Italian and US Vogue in 1969, Pattie Boyd is much more well known for her famous marriages than for her modelling. She was first married to George Harrison in 1966, then to Eric Clapton in 1979.

The British-born model then became a photographer. Between 2005 and 2011, her images of The Beatles, Harrison and Clapton were exhibited in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland and even in Kazakhstan. This was in addition to some being featured in her 2007 autobiography Wonderful Today. Pattie Boyd still shows her photographs all over the world and conducts talks on them.

Conclusion

As usual with a lot of these posts, I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of 1960s models’ lives after they stopped being in front of the camera. It’s great to see the likes of Peggy Moffitt, Pattie Boyd and Leon Bing continuing to lead vibrant and creative lives beyond the Swinging Sixties. I hope to find out more about other models in the future, so keep a lookout for updates!

What do you think of this post? Do you know of other models who led colourful lives after the sixties? Please comment below!


22
Sep 17

Fashionable Clothes For Mature Women From Jean Muir – Book Review

(Affiliate Disclosure: GoGoSixties.com is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.)

My Rating: 8 out of 10

About the book

Jean Muir: Beyond Fashion by Sinty Stemp is one of just a handful of publications about the iconic British designer. Going against the fast fashion trends of the 1960s, Muir designed fashionable clothes for mature women; women of all ages who knew who they were and what they were all about. The book covers her career from the start throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

The hardcover of the most recent edition features a picture of Naomi Campbell in a sunshine yellow coat with huge shoulder pads from January 1988. In the edition I read, there is instead a black and white head and shoulder portrait of Jean Muir, or ‘Miss Muir’ as she is respectfully referred to throughout the book.

The book begins with a foreword from Felicity Green, a British journalist of long standing as well as the editor of the book. She also counts herself as a friend of Jean Muir, and this shows through along with her knowledge of fashion.

Each chapter formulates a chronological account of Jean Muir’s life and career, though more focussed on the latter due to her being such a private person. Near the end, there is a potted chronology of her life and achievements. The most remarkable, in my opinion, was that she was self-taught. This was through being able to draw and sew at a young age, then through making her own clothes while in her first job at Liberty & Co.Plastic head pins, safety pins, and turquoise thread

It doesn’t take long to get into the book to see that Muir was less interested in fashion than about style. From her first collection as an independent designer on 27th October 1966, the quality of fabrics she used stood out. Despite her being known for finely-knit matte jersey in black and shades of navy, suedes and leathers also featured. Prints and vibrant colours appeared too.

The use of images is one of the things I most enjoyed. There are lots of them, both in colour and in black and white. Each of the items featured are of their time, but are simultaneously modern. I can imagine them being worn season after season and still looking fresh. It’s wonderful to see some of Jean Muir’s sketches within the book as well, including a smaller insert in Chapter 5. This gives life to her assertion that she was a ‘dressmaker’ as supposed to a ‘designer’.

There are numerous anecdotes and contributions throughout the chapters as well, including from fans of Jean Muir’s elegant minimalist clothing. Joanna Lumley, the actress who was a house model for her Jane and Jane label and then the eponymous brand, is one of the most famous. In the 1960s, Cilla Black (who was then a singer) and Barbra Streisand also wore Jean Muir.

Jean Muir was well-loved and highly regarded outside of the United Kingdom as well. She, along with her contemporary Gerald McCann, was one of the handful of British designers who enjoyed success in the United States. The book details the raptuous reception she received on her first catwalk showing in Paris in October 1971.

Interesting chapters include portraits of Muir herself, the combination of her small frame and strong clear personality providing an interesting contrast for many artists. Also, Sinty Stemp herself devotes a chapter to her personal perspective.

The end of the book shows how Muir continued to be highly influential even after her death in 1995. The archive of her clothing was donated by her husband and co-director of Jean Muir Ltd to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh in 2006, which she had been instrumental in raising funds for. Images of clothing from the Jean Muir label, which continued right up until 2007, is shown too.

About the author

Sinty Stemp is well-placed to write such a book, as she worked for Jean Muir for nine years including as her personal assistant. After Muir’s death, she continued to supervise the designs as part of a team.

Who the book is for

People who are interested in British fashion history, as well as those who are students of fashion. Students in particular will enjoy Chapters 4 and 5 in particular, that give an insight into how a Jean Muir collection was constructed. This is fascinating for anyone who wants to know the creative process of such an iconic designer.

How will it help you?

This book will be a great help to you if you want to know more about a designer who has been compared to the biggest names in fashion such as Chanel. This is a comprehensive and full picture of her career.

Also, this book is great for people who may have heard of Jean Muir but not know much more about her.

Why do I recommend it?

Reading the book, I felt I got a real sense of Jean Muir both as a designer and as a personality. Very much her own woman, she tailored clothes with an appreciation that real people were going to wear them. It’s refreshing to read about a designer who did this, rather than so many who design clothes for their hanger appeal.

Pros

-An authoritative account of an exceptional designer
-Lots of images, both black and white
-An engaging read
-Lots of quotes from Jean Muir herself

Con

-Only available in hardcover format

Where you can buy it

From Amazon.co.uk – check them out for the most up-to-date price.


19
Sep 17

One Of The Top Models Of All Time – Twiggy

Introduction

Today, this post will be about Twiggy. The London-born model was the face of 1966 and is known as part of a select group of the top models of all time. Twiggy was everywhere in the second half of the sixties – in the magazines, on the television, and in the shops!

Instead of giving a mini-biography of the model-turned-actress-turned-model born Leslie Hornby on 19th September 1949, I thought I’d dig a bit deeper. Were there any unusual facts or coincidences about her, I wondered? Luckily for this post, there were!

So beyond the haircut and painted-on eyelashes, here are some fun facts about Twiggy!

One degree of separation from the Fab Four

Before a fifteen-year-old Twiggy had her hair cut into the iconic pixie cut that led to her being discovered as a model, the hairdresser, Leonard of Mayfair inadvertently created another much-copied hairstyle.

Two of the Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, were dragged to Leonard’s exclusive salon by their manager Brian Epstein. Their hair had been cut in a pudding-bowl style that was very in with the stylish guys in Hamburg. Epstein was less happy with their hair, believing that the band wouldn’t appeal to a teenage audience.

As a result of Leonard being called upon to sort their hair out, the mop top style was born!

Immortalised in bronze

Did you know Twiggy has a statue too? She unveiled hers as well as the other two life-size bronzes in May 2012, named ‘Three Figures’. The sculpturer Neal French created these statues, which are situated at Bourdon Place in Mayfair.

One statue is of Twiggy modelling, while the second is of Terence Donovan, a fashion photographer of the 1960s. (Please note that he’s no relation to the Australian actor and singer Jason Donovan!) The third is of a female passer-by who stumbles onto the scene while out shopping.

Despite the siting of the figures, Donovan himself did not have his studios at Bourdon Street (a few yards away) until 1974!

On the catwalk

At the end of 1966, Twiggy was asked to launch her own clothing label. Called Twiggy Fashions, the styles were influenced by Andre Courrèges and Mary Quant, as well as her own enthusiasm for clothing from the 1920s. Costing up to £160 in today’s money, these weren’t High Street prices!

Twiggy appeared on the catwalk to promote her fashion line in Novermber 1966, and this was the only time that she did this. At the time, there was a separation between photographic models such as her and the catwalk models who were generally not earning as much.

Sing a song

As well as modelling and collaborating in the designs of her fashion line, Twiggy also released three singles in the mid to late 1960s. I stumbled across one of them here, Beautiful Dreams:

What a wonderful song! This was released on Ember in 1967. Ember was a British indie music label whose biggest hit in the decade was Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman (another amazing song). Twiggy also came out with ‘When I Think Of You’ on Ember in the same year.

Twiggy continued to release music after retiring from modelling in 1970 at the age of just 21. This was as well as acting in films and on the stage.

Beyond the cover model

Twiggy was on the front cover of SO many magazines from 1966 onwards, including the October 1967 edition of British Vogue. She was also on the cover of US Vogue four times that year.

As well as being a cover model, Twiggy had a whole magazine devoted to her in the USA. Her Mod Mod Teen World was published in 1967 and included lots of pictures, as well as tips and tricks on how to look like her and get into the fashion industry. There was even a list of her ‘do’s and don’ts’ – life rules for teenage girls.

Conclusion

This has been another fun and interesting post to research. For example, I never knew about Twiggy’s singing career in the 1960s, or that she shared the same hairdresser at the Beatles! I also never fully appreciated how massive she was back then.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please comment below and share on your favourite social media platforms!

(Other Sources – TwiggyBourdon Place Sculptures)


15
Sep 17

Finding Fashion Trends From The Past – Vintage Shops vs Charity Shops

Introduction

The purpose of today’s post is to compare and contrast finding fashionPrice tag saying 'Finding fashion from the past' trends from the past at vintage shops and events against looking for it in charity shops. This will be by looking at several preconceptions some have about shopping at each one.

I hope this post can offer you further help and knowledge of the pros and cons of each, so that you can make a more informed choice about which is the best option for you.

(This information can be applied to thrift stores and op shops as well!)

Isn’t vintage harder to find at charity shops?

Not necessarily – there are some charity stores that have a separate section devoted to vintage and retro items. Some, like this Sue Ryder shop purely stock vintage and retro gear from a wide range of decades. So, no, all the good items haven’t been taken already!

This also puts paid to the prejudice from some that there’s too much hunting to undertake at a charity shop. When the shop is solely devoted to vintage gear, all the work has been done for you already!

There is still the old misconception that charity shops are just full of old rubbish. That’s not the case at all, especially with the ones that larger charities run.

But isn’t the vintage clothing at a charity shop overpriced anyway?

Because of the financial squeeze on all charities now, their shops have got much more savvy about their pricing. Therefore, they are more likely to price any vintage gear (especially from as far back as the 1960s) higher than they would modern-day clothing.Handing over twenty and ten pound notes

Yes, it may come across as overpriced (and sometimes it is), but charity shops are run on a more commercial basis than they were, say, 20 years ago. This is because charities need them to make a profit in order to keep the organisation going.

There aren’t any physical vintage stores or vintage fashion events near to me!

The question can be asked ‘well, where are all these vintage shops and fairs that you keep banging on about?’ This is an obvious obstacle to finding 1960s vintage clothing.

The answer? Go online! If you check out shops on Etsy, as well as the sites of physical shops such as these (int link to where to buy it), you can find a mine of fantastic gear!

Check out this post for help in finding the real deal and making sure your vintage shopping experience is a good one.

Another tip? Incorporate a day out with your vintage shopping trip to another town or city. It can be lots of fun, and (unlike online purchasing) you can try items on before you buy.

Going to a vintage shop is just easier, isn’t it?

At a vintage shop, be it online or offline, the trader is much more likely to have specialist knowledge of their stock than someone working in a charity shop. As vintage clothing is what they sell to make a living, they invest much more time and energy in finding quality items to put in their store. Label from the Philip Kunick jacket

Clothes are more expensive generally at vintage stores, but it very much depends on the decade as well as the label on the item – of course, a Biba item will be priced much higher than, say, a Philip Kunick. Also tied into this is how well known the designer or shop is – an obscure label may fetch much less than a world-famous brand.

Conclusion

Of the two places featured to find clothing from the 1960s, both vintage shops and events and charity shops can be good places to go. Of course, it depends on what you’re looking for – whether reproduction and retro gear or a genuine mod-style shift dress.

No matter what your budget is, you too can have the sixties style you so desire.

What do you think? Which do you prefer? Please let me know in the comments box below.


12
Sep 17

1960s vintage clothing for women – mixing and matching

(Affiliate Disclosure: To cover the costs of the site, I have an affiliate relationship with some of the companies whose clothes I really like. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission or credit if you decide to buy any of their items after clicking on the relevant link.)

Introduction

It seems like ages ago since I wrote a post giving ideas on how to wearMixing and matching clothes from 1960 to 1969 1960s vintage clothing for women. (Actually, it was back in October 2016!) One of those ideas was to wear your treasured item with other clothes from the decade.

Well, I thought I’d take that idea further today and talk about how you can mix and match clothes from different parts of the sixties. With such a variety of styles to choose from within that ten-year period, there’s lots of room to experiment now without it looking too weird and outdated as it may have done then.

Fancy experimenting? Well then, here are just three suggestions!

Suits you

Starting with a style from the beginning of the 1960s, the smart two-piece skirt suit offered the ultimate in mature sophistication. Look for one in the newer synthetic fabrics used such as Crimplene and Terylene.

Motif Maven Tights in Plum

If you want to bring that suit further on in to the decade, try it with a pair of matching tights – the in colours at the time were darker ones such as plum, forest green and burgundy. Add a pair of gloves to keep your hands warm too – again matching the colour of the suit, as well as a poor boy jumper. This is a great outfit to wear coming into autumn!

Maxing out

From the start of the sixties, we then go to the end with the maxiskirt. This gave the wearer a long, lean look, and was at times quite body-conscious. A patchwork-print maxi gives a nod to the homecrafted styles that were popular.

Contrasting with the hippie-inspired skirt, a cream blouse like this one that harks back to the mid-‘60s could look good. The Peter-Pan collar and black necktie in particular adds a cute touch.

Tucking the blouse in brings the focus on the waist, while leaving it out makes the look freer and more casual.

Time and Grace Lace Dress in Champagne in L

Belt up!

One of the key fashion items in 1962 was the belt. No matter how wide it was or what fabric it was in, the waist was the area to emphasise.

The trapeze dress, on the other hand, de-emphasised the figure altogether. Easy to wear and comfortable, it summed up the more relaxed fashions worn by younger people. Just like the shift dress, you could just put it on and go!

Put the two together, and you get quite a voluminous hourglass-like effect. The subtle beige and champagne shades of the chiffon and lace dress here can be clashed with a flash of silver with this wide faux-silk belt.

Conclusion

I hope these tips have helped you to think about how you too can mix and match fashions from the 1960s. From a sharp suit to a floaty dress, there was more than enough going on through those ten years to create outfits of your own.

What do you think of this post? Are there any of these ideas that you’ll try for yourself? Please comment below and share this post on social media!


08
Sep 17

The very first film ever made about fashion

My Rating: 9 out of 10

About the film

Basic Black is the very first film ever made just to show fashion, and itThe first ever fashion movie was made in 1967. Starring Peggy Moffitt, this showcased designs from Rudi Gernreich.

The other two models who appeared were Leon Bing and Ellen Harth. After modelling in the 1960s, Leon Bing became a journalist and author – her first book published in 1991, Do Or Die, is still in print today. Ellen Harth later went on to open her own modelling agency in New York.

The music throughout the film is a mixture of the easy-listening you’d probably find at a cocktail party of the era and more experimental sounds. The composer, David Lucas was also a songwriter and music producer.

The colour film begins with a figure dressed all in black walking across the screen – veil, trapeze dress, tights, and pointed flat shoes. Soon, the more colourful fashion begins!

All the fashions you’d expect to see from the mid-1960s are in this film, such as a PVC red minidress with little circle cut-outs modelled by Moffitt. A twist is added with the cut-out circles being stuck onto her body to accesorise. A style I did spot that looked like what’s on the High Street now was about 1:56 in, where all three models are in cold-shoulder tops.

Next on show are kimono-style dresses with huge prints, before a scene with feathers and animal-print costumes. The camera alternates between the bird-like models and their printed items in giraffe and leopard.

The film concludes with the figure in black making a return, but superimposed over the models in psychedelic-printed floaty dresses and trouser suits. As the figure gets closer, you can see the initially solidTranslucent patterned fabric black garments are broken up by a checked print. They lift the veil up, and…you’ll have to watch the film to find out what happens next!

About the director

The film was created and directed by William Claxton, who had been married to Peggy Moffitt since 1960. This could explain why her name is in larger letters on the credits than Leon Bing’s or Ellen Harth’s!

Claxton was already a fashion and celebrity photographer in his own right, but is most well-known for his photographs of jazz musicuals such as Chet Baker.

Who the film is for

Fashion students and historians will enjoy this film, as it shows Gernreich’s designs being worn and moved about in. Sixties fashion geeks will love it, of course, as well as film historians and students.

How will it help you?

This film is for you if you want to see Gernreich’s fashion beyond the monokini. By watching Basic Black, you can also see how this is the forerunner to the fashion films now released on Instagram and Youtube by design houses such as Gucci which show their upcoming trends for the season.

Why do I recommend it?

Lightbulb moment - fashion inspiration

It’s a fun film that captures the energy and colour of the mid-1960s.

Pros

-An interesting and colourful film
-Lots and lots of fashion inspiration

Con

-Too short at less than seven minutes long!

Where you can see it

Basic Black is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. There’s a link to the film in this post too. Because the film is so short, I don’t know if it’s available to buy.

Have you watched Basic Black before? What did you think? Please leave your personal reviews in the comments below!


05
Sep 17

Sixties fashion from the fair or the kilo sale?

Introduction

In previous posts, I have talked a lot about vintage fashion from the fairWhich one to pick? and from kilo sales. What to do there, what they’re like, and the amazing items you can find there. Now, I’m going to talk about the differences between them.

They both share some similarities too, in that it’s all pre-loved clothing and accessories they sell as supposed to modern-day high street gear. Also, for all of you who share my love for 1960s clothing, they too share the problem of said sixties clobber getting trickier to find. After all, it is over 50 years old! They also tend to use similar venues too at times.

Here are just some of the distinctions between going to a vintage fair and getting your vintage thrills at a kilo sale.

How much?

The cost differential begins at the door. The entry fee for a kilo sale most of the time will be free or very cheap. Vintage fairs, on the other hand, can cost up to £6 entry, especially the bigger ones in London such as the Pop Up Vintage Fairs held at Alexandra Palace.

Once you’re in, you’ll find that items bought at a kilo sale tend to be cheaper than those at a vintage fair. This is simply because of them normally being sold by the kilo. Some kilo sales do allow you to buy items individually – this can work out (say) at £5 for a top or shirt, or £8-£10 for a dress.

Special selection

At a vintage fair, the selection of clothes available, as well as what eraInside Saltaire Vintage Fair they are from, is dependent upon the individual trader. Some specialise in a particular decade, whilst others have items spanning several. The trader will have already handselected the pieces to ensure good quality and a distinct style.

At a kilo sale, however, the selection is much more variable. Anything from the 1960s to the early 1990s (as well as retro chain-store stuff) is all squashed together on the rails. Allow lots of time to rummage! From the tons of garments, you can choose the ones you like yourself.

What do you know?

Following on from the last point, going to a kilo sale requires much more knowledge of what to look for. This page can help you identify exactly what you’re after.

By contrast with kilo sales, the traders at vintage fashion fairs have already done all the hard work for you. This extra research done is reflected in the price of the item. Still, it saves a lot of time and trouble working out whether that special item you’ve spotted is the real deal.

Does this look alright?

At a vintage clothing fair, where to try stuff on is dependent upon the venue. If it’s at a theatre or a town hall, there may be a communal changing room available. At the very least, you can take them into the toilets.

A kilo sale, however, is a little different. Because of the way it’s set up, you’re encouraged to pick up stuff in bulk. There are a couple of mirrors dotted about, but there’s not much encouragement to try things on before buying.Me trying on a blue dress while at a vintage fair

A tip is to wear a spaghetti-strap top and leggings when going to a kilo sale, so that you can sneak behind a rail to check the fit of your stash and try clothes on over what you’re wearing. Otherwise, there’s the risk of revealing a little too much to other customers!

Conclusion

From when you walk in to when you leave again, going to a vintage fashion fair and to a kilo sale are quite different experiences. Depending on the expertise you have in 1960s fashion, as well as how set you are on finding genuine vintage items, both of these are great ways to find what you want.

Have you been to a kilo sale and a vintage fair before? What similarities and differences did you notice? What did you find there? Please tell me more in the comments below!

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