Here are just a few of the influential fashion designers of the 1960s. Though finding original vintage pieces by these designers is quite difficult, they set the trends for the mainstream and interpretations of their designs are easy to spot if you know what to look for.
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Before H&M, Topshop, or Forever 21 there was Biba; the first high fashion, low price point line of clothes aimed at teenagers. The affordable couture recreations are recognizable by their drab, muddied color palette of brown, sepia, gray and plum. Long tight sleeves, short hemlines, and high shoulders define Biba's swinging London look.
Pierre CardinPierre Cardin created innovative designs for both men and women during the 1960s. Thigh high boots, collarless jackets, and target emblazoned mini shift dresses in bright colors were his trademarks.
André CourrègesThe true creator of the "mini" skirt, André Courrèges was more than a one trick pony. Courrèges also brought us the go-go boot and established the triangle shaped shift dress as the defining silhouette for the '60s. Since Courrèges was a high fashion label, it would be difficult and pricey to find an original, but his designs were widely copied for lower price points which are well within reach of today’s vintage fashion treasure hunters. Flat white shoes or boots with a sift dress or cigarette pant suit would be a spot on Courrèges-esque ensemble.
Bonnie CashinBonnie Cashin was an American sportswear designer well known for her numerous collaborations with famous manufacturers including Coach, for whom she designed the first line of women's products for in 1962. Cashin was also part of the "paper clothing" trend.
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Hubert Givenchy helped to define the 1960s refined style by dressing its most elegant actress, Audrey Hepburn, both on screen and off. Givenchy's designs were used in Hepburn movies such as Charade, Paris When it Sizzles, How to Steal a Million, and of course, Breakfast at Tiffany's, for which he designed the most famous "Little Black Dress" of all time.
Yves Saint Laurent
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Yves Saint Laurent first influenced fashion when he became head designer at Christian Dior after the designer's untimely death. In 1962 YSL created his own label which contributed to many of the decade's fads, including the Mondrian shift dress, safari jacket, pea coat, and le smoking tuxedo.
Most recognized for his trademark colorful psychedelic prints, Pucci contributed to other '60s trends like the palazzo pant suit and headscarf.
Pacco RabanneOriginally a jewelry designer, Paco Rabanne’s designs used the same sensibilities for clothes. Making chain mail type garments with metal and plastic disks, Paco Rabanne was more avant garde artist than fashion designer. Rabanne also designed the costumes for the 1960s classic Barbarella.
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The quintessential swinging sixties designer is credited with popularizing the "mini" skirt (though she didn’t invent it, she did give the mini its name). While finding an original Quant on this side of the pond would be a needle in the hay, it’s easy to embody her look with a mini skirt, patent leather boots, mini length shift dress and bright opaque tights. Heavy dark eye makeup, false lashes, and a five point bob haircut are the perfect finishing touches for a Quant look.
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Ossie Clark made a name by dressing celebrities like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Twiggy, Liza Minnell, and Talitha Getty. Together with his wife, Celia Birtwell who designed textiles for his collections, Clark's designs epitomized the 60s. Clark was also one of the first designers to do an accessible capsule collection with a major retailer, mass producing his designs at a lower price for British retailer Radley in 1968.