November 19

The 60's really brought colour into the world

Mary Quant’s fashion revolution was not the only revolution to occur during the 1960s. I was born during the Swinging Sixties and this decade proved to be the defining decade for Britain. If the Fifties were in Black and White, then the Sixties were in Glorious Technicolour.

In just 10 years London transformed from the bleak city that had barely emerged from the horrors of the Second World War into a centre of excitement, where young people, free from the yoke of National Service for the first time, found their voice in a new and vibrant teenage culture.

Fashion was not the only defining aspect of the Sixties, music was too. Rock and roll had started to shock in the 1950s but by the 1960s groups like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys were experimenting with new sounds that encouraged teenagers to stand up for their individuality and their beliefs. These developments were often shocking to the parents, who saw images of young people experiencing a psychedelic high on recreational drugs at Woodstock brought into their homes through the medium of TV.

The Swinging Sixties were synonymous with a decline in deference for politicians; the Profumo Scandal and the Peace Movement saw people challenging authority in a way that would have been unheard of in the 1950s. These challenges were also seen in the workplace with the Women’s Lib movement emerging as social and technological change meant that more women were entering the workplace – and staying there after they married – and even going on strike at the Ford factory in Dagenham.

Leisure time was a revolutionary concept that emerged in the 1960s and teenagers began buying transistor radios to listen to pop music on the move and Mary Quant’s mini-skirts became the epitome of 60’s fashion. They were free and liberating for women so that they could dance and run and jump. Her fashion designs used simple geometric shapes and colours that gave women a new modern edge.

So the decade in which I was born was one of revolutionary change, where the freedom and the individuality that we take for granted today emerged. But, as Charlie Fleischer said: ‘If you remember the ‘60s, you really weren’t there...'

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