Icons of woman's closet /MINISKIRT

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The miniskirt was a sartorial summation of the 1960s: the growing gap - in attitude and in dress - between youth and the parental generation; an increased (sexual) liberation for women; and a readiness to challenge ossified rules of propriety. It seemed as if women suddenly woke up one morning and decided that dresses and skirts should be lifted to new heights. This new approach to dress design turned fashion on its ear and it started a whole new era for them...
Not only were women entering the voting booths, they were freeing their legs of cumbersome dresses and skirts, as well. Women from the British Society for the Protection of Mini Skirts protesting outside the House of Dior in London in September 1966, against its alleged "unfair" treatment of minis. Youngsters felt they no longer needed to follow the rules of bourgeois morality and manners. As this young political entity gained a voice, they created a space for a new and distinctive fashion that embodied their own political views.




The image of a woman was beginning to dramatically shift from being a wife and mother to a young, single, carefree girl proud of her sexuality and confident with her power. The miniskirt would express, and serve as a tool for this growing woman's movement.  While designers such as André Courreges and John Bates had introduced short skirts in the early 1960s, it is Mary Quant who should be remembered as the true progenitor of the miniskirt. She raised the hemline of her skirts in 1965 to several inches above the knee, the iconic mini skirt was born. Named after her favourite car, the Mini, the miniskirt was an instant success and epitomized the spirit of London in the mid-60s: free, energetic, youthful, revolutionary, and unconventional. The pinafore dresses and short, brightly colored skirts were, crucially for the fashionable 1960s girls who wore them, worlds apart from the voluptuous New Look style that had entranced their mothers.


Mary Quant, the Brit who ensured the popularity of the mini, poses here in 1967

Mary with models at Heathrow Aiport  before leaving for a continental fashion tour

Quant produced minidressed to sell at her King's Road boutique, Bazaar

Quant's  ever-shorter designs were said to have made "whole countries" gasp with outrage and admiration. Many were outraged by what they saw as common indecency. Coco Chanel  denounced miniskirts as disgusting. Cecil Beaton opined: "Never in the history of fashion has so little material been raised so high to reveal so much that needs to be covered up so badly."

Twiggy by Ronald Traeger for British Vogue, 1967

André Courreges "Space Age"



André Courreges

While the miniskirt fell out of fashion in early 1970s, the punk movement at the end of the decade helped revive the mini, thanks in part to female rock stars such as Debbie Harry (Blondie) who were fond of wearing them on stage. The punks were motivated  by anti-fashion  and tried to avoid mainstream trends. Influenced by punk designers such as Vivienne Westwood  and Malcolm McLaren whose shop SEX sold the fashion, the mini was reincarnated in black leather and PVC. It was also now often worn with ripped fishnet tights and took on a slightly  "trashy" overtone that reflected "whatever" attitude.

Debbie Harry in her mini

Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren

Look by Vivienne Westwood
The 1980s and early 1990s heralded a return to a more womanly figure in contrast to the adolescent androgyny of the 1960s. The miniskirt was incorporated  into the new, big-shouldered, "power" business suit for women, either in traditional pinstripes or jewel-coloured wools. Popular characters in TV sitcoms such as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City helped the miniskirt  appear sexy and smart. Minis were no longer considered appropriate only for teenagers, but they also became a power statement for sophisticated women in their thirties who were in total control of their single life.

Sex and the City 
Clueless, 1990s popular comedy


Nowadays, the miniskirt is still heavily featured on Western catwalks and in fashion magazines and it is often shorter than ever.


Microskirt by Anna Sui

Mini by D&G

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