Think winged eyeliner, Mary Quant miniskirts, pea coats, capes, and high boots, and you immediately think of the ’60s. You think of the mod squad, a whole generation of British kids who defined the sexy, streamlined, hedonistic fashion and lifestyle of the ’60s (remember Twiggy?). So many iconic fashion statements are associated with this swinging decade. And so many iconic women, too: Supermodel Jean Shrimpton, Andy Warhol’s iconic Factory Girl, socialite and actress Edie Sedgwick, and Yves Saint Laurent’s famed muse Betty Catroux. And this season, we find that designers across the world have, in quiet conspiracy, collaborated to bring the ’60s back to life. The straight shift becomes a staple, to be paired with boots and oversized sunglasses. The pea coat, the cape, the midi length, and the doublebreasted coatee are everywhere, as if designers—from Nicolas Ghesquiere at Louis Vuitton to Alessandra Facchinetti at Tod’s—dipped into the same cauldron for their helping of inspiration.
For Matthew Williamson, whose vivid colours and prints have made him the poster boy for boho, the party circuit of the ’60s and ’70s is a constant source of inspiration. “It was such a diverse era visually. Style icons at the time ranged from Bianca Jagger and Talitha Getty to David Bowie and Patti Smith. People were experimenting and open to fashion ideas; it was a defining period for fashion,” he says. In a nod to his eternal party-girl, Williamson laid out a black and white starburst carpet and referenced the era’s sharp tailoring and rich textures like lurex, velvet, and chain mail. “For fall I started by looking at old copies of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar from the era, as well as the work of (French fashion photographer) Guy Bourdin and (the Godfather of the US paparazzi culture, photographer) Ron Galella’s images of the ’70s society set.”
Williamson isn’t alone. At Saint Laurent, Heidi Slimane took his cues from Yves’s own edgy creations when he was at the helm of London’s Youthquake, presenting a refreshing take on the ’60s with his all-fringed, fur clad, shift-dress-sporting, and sparkly over-the-knee boot wearing models looking like groupies spilling out of a Rolling Stones concert.
But this isn’t an overnight revival. It began a year ago, in Spring 2013, when brands like Louis Vuitton, Moschino, Paco Rabanne, and Marc Jacobs paid homage to London’s mod movement: Jumpsuits at Rabanne; neon checks at Vuitton; optical stripes and leopard prints at Jacobs; and double-breasted pea coats at Moschino. That was 12 months ago, and the vocabulary for this season has evolved far ahead, with designers offering modern takes on ’60s classics.