Small Is Still Beautiful; Once the Token of the Swinging '60S, the Mini Skirt Has Stood the Test of Time,becoming a Must-Have Fashion Item,as Any a Burgess Reports

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), May 10, 2004 | Go to article overview

Small Is Still Beautiful; Once the Token of the Swinging '60S, the Mini Skirt Has Stood the Test of Time,becoming a Must-Have Fashion Item,as Any a Burgess Reports


Byline: Anya Burgess

THIS year the mini celebrates its 40th birthday and retains its place throughout many stylish designer collections. So it's hard to believe the reaction when the modern mini appeared on the catwalk in 1964.

A stunned silence greeted Frenchman Andre Courreges's designs when he showed skirts a couple of inches above the knee on the Paris catwalk.

But a couple of months later when a lady called Mary Quant revamped the designs making skirts thigh-high, skimpy and body-hugging she created a defining look,not just for the 60s but in fashion's history.

It was the beginning of a new era, a backlash to young adults being clones of their parents and the start of the teenage rebellion.

One of the triggers that launched the trend was a picture of the world's first supermodel and famous face of the 60s Jean Shrimpton at the Melbourne Gold Cup in November 1965.

Her picture made headlines across the globe when she appeared at the races in a white shift dress,at least four inches above the knee.

Adrienne Lowy, senior lecturer at John Moores University School of Art and Design, recalls the history behind the legendary tiny pieces of material.

``There's always been a debate concerning who it was who started the trend. It originally came from Courreges but there's a wonderful quote in Mary Quant's biography where she says that it wasn't either of them. It had to be the girls in the street.

``Skirts had briefly got shorter in the 20s but in the early 60s the hemline rose and gradually skirts got shorter and shorter.

``Until tights were invented,it was fashionable to wear matching knickers because minis were so short,but later the look became tights, ribbed sweaters and tiny skirts.''

In New York, the norm was four to five inches above the knee,but over in Swinging London you could go even skimpier and still be considered decent.

And with a little help from Hollywood and television, the impact of the mini was huge.

Ms Lowy remembers: ``Even when the Queen invested Prince Charles in 1969, she wore a skirt a couple of inches above the knee.''

``So as mothers were starting to wear the fashionable length, their daughters' skirts became even smaller.''

It was all down to the prosperity of the decade says Ms Lowy: ``People had money to spend,little boutiques were popping up all over the place and Mary Quant realised that no one was making clothes for girls who wanted to look different from their mothers.

``It became instant fashion using very simple shapes and the models used were very flat chested so their key attraction was long skinny legs.

Quant's name became synonymous with 60s fashion and,after liberating women from the tyranny of the long skirt, she tapped even further into

street fashion and came up with hot pants.

She was also the first to use a logo on her clothes -which came in the form of a daisy -and in 1966,after being described as the ``major fashion force in the world outside Paris'', she was awarded an OBE by the Queen. …

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