Futurespace Magazine takes a peak at the Youthquake! exhibition in New York, an event celebrating the impact youth culture had on 1960′s fashion.
Although the term “youthquake” was most famously used by an American – Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, London was the epicenter of youth-generated style in the 1960s, according to exhibition organiser Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). British styles from the early 1960s Mods to the Hippies later in the decade were quickly whipped up by mass marketers in a bid to meet booming international demand.
Youth culture has previously been a part of other exhibitions on 1960s fashion, but the newly opened Youthquake! The 1960s Fashion Revolution focuses primarily on the dramatic impact it had during this period in time, FIT spokesperson Judith Schwantes told Futurespace Magazine.
Featuring over 30 garments, accessories, videos, and other related media, FIT says the exhibition “represents a decade defined by the ascendance of young people who were warning each other not to trust anyone over 30 – as a political, social, and aesthetic force”.
During the 1960’s ‘fashion revolution’, young shoppers flocked to new fashion boutiques that energetic, equally young designers were opening almost daily. A powerful consumer class was emerging, with similar boutiques opening internationally. Some designers began developing lower-priced specialty lines in order to reach the broader global audience. Mass producers made affordable versions of the new designs and hired young celebrities to flog them.
To illustrate this rise in mass production, a pair of Trimfit tights “inspired by” fashion icon Twiggy are displayed at the exhibition. The influence of music on 1960s fashion is represented by a pair of Wing Dings shoes featuring a Beatles motif and a paper dress stamped with Bob Dylan’s image, which also represents the era’s throw-away fashions.
Youthquake trends also found expression in the work of forward-thinking designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, who began producing ready-to-wear lines that helped to ensure their fiscal survival. An example of Saint Laurent’s iconic 1968 Safari tunic from his Rive Gauche boutique is on display, along with a man’s bespoke suit by Ruben Torres, with a Nehru collar and bold animal print, reflecting Youthquake’s infiltration of made-to-order clothing.
As the decade drew to a close, the Mod style surrendered to the hippies, whose anti-consumerist beliefs led them to shop at second-hand shops. However, any style can be mass-marketed and of course hippie style was quickly commodified and marketed as a money maker for the industry. This is represented by a 1968 suede vest and printed cotton maxi-skirt ensemble on display by New York-based designer Giorgio di Sant’Angelo.
Clothing and accessories from “cutting-edge” boutique and mass-market labels are also on show at the exhibition, as well as “ready-to-wear” garments and couture, including a metallic copper mini-dress designed for New York’s “trendsetting” Paraphernalia boutique and a Day-Glo man’s shirt by British designer and boutique-owner John Stephen.
Youthshake! is part of an annual exhibition put on by Master of Arts in Fashion and Textile Studies students at (FIT) as part of their course.
Launching in two days, a website created in conjunction with the exhibition will include educational resources and further information about fashion in the 1960s.
Dates: 6 March 7 April, 2012
Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 12-8 pm, Saturday: 10 am-5 pm
Closed Sunday, Monday and legal holidays.
Co-curators Tracy Jenkins and Cassidy Zachary will give public tours of the exhibition on 14 and 19 March as part of the museum’s Fashion Culture series.