|The Stones at their recent 50th Anniversary gig at the o2 in London - tickets sold out in 7 mins in spite of being priced between £95 and £406!)|
And I hinted that I preferred the style of the Sixties and Seventies, though it was more than just the designs in themselves that ushered in a great wave of liberation from the stuffiness of the Fifties.
|Left: Jean Shrimpton with the Rolling Stones.|
I recently received a photograph of myself and all my college contemporaries, taken when we went up to university in 1962. And with a couple of exceptions, a right frumpy lot we looked, in our unflattering chunky sweaters, tweedy skirts and specs that Dame Edna would be proud of! But during those 3 years in Oxford there was a seismic shift taking place.
|Cathy McGowan helped to popularise the mini-skirt|
Whereas previously fashion had been determined by the world of Haute Couture, with the rich and famous of the establishment in mind, now it became possible for everyone, from shop girl to ‘the man on the Clapham omnibus’ to dress stylishly and live in well designed surroundings.
In many ways it felt like a time of rebellion, a time when young people, teenagers even, claimed an identity, a culture, all of their own for the very first time.
It was a time of quite drastic new beginnings. In 1962 –63, the popular TV show, ‘That was the week that was . . ‘ made fun of previously revered figures of the ‘establishment’ in a way that was at first regarded by many as outrageous!
The UK version of the Interior Design magazine, House Beautiful (1964 –68) together with Terence Conran’s ‘Habitat’ stores made good design, with a strong Scandinavian bias at first, available and affordable to most for the first time.
In the spirit of rebellion that I associate with that decade, it was out with the traditional styles of our parents’ homes and in with colourful, bright clean lines and in particuar, all sorts of exciting accessories, such as outsized pepper mills, terra cotta chicken bricks and colourful enamel cooking utensils. (I still have some of them, chipped and no longer usable in the kitchen but still pretty enough to hang on to!)
With air travel becoming more affordable to the ‘average’ family, and with flights from Manchester airport (1961) and Luton (1962), package holidays started to take off, mostly to European destinations. Together with the intrepid launch of the Sunday Times Colour Supplement in 1962, that featured a new lifestyle, including recipes for foreign dishes by authors such as Elizabeth David, foreign foods started to find their way into our supermarkets and into our kitchens, adding a welcome variety to our rather bland English 'cuisine'.
The spectacular success of the Biba boutique in Kensington demonstrates a generation hungry for something new and all their own, something different from what their ‘elders and betters’ expected them to wear! And the top models of the time, Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, bore no resemblance at all to the models of the previous decade!
Looking back now, the concrete tower blocks, that seemed to spring up everywhere in the Sixties, were mostly hideous monstrosities. And many of the fashions in clothing and interior design can seem ridiculous – but then, isn’t that always the case when we look back at fashions from not so long ago?
To me the Sixties seemed like a time of genuine and general optimism, a time of change when style ceased to be the prerogative of the privileged. A lot of factors contributed to this shift but I think the rock and pop musicians had a lot to do with it.
I can remember exactly where I was, who I was with and what I was doing when I first heard about the Beatles. Can you?