Meet the influencers behind the 1960s fashion scene
From Brigitte Bardot’s beehive to Mary Quant’s geometric prints, every 1960s fashion icon contributed their own signature style to the decade. It was the era of the girl group, the gamine supermodel and the original IT-girls.
The sixties still provides designers today with an endless source of inspiration. From Hermès’ enduring ‘Birkin’ bag, to Dior’s noughties take on Edie Sedgwick’s Factory Girl style, these women were some of the greatest fashion influencers of all time.
Many fashion traditions were broken, mirroring the momentous social and political changes of the decade. It was the era where no skirt was too short, and no beehive too high. Today, we can thank it for culottes, geometric prints and boxy silhouettes.
From the 60s answer to street style stars, to the key fashion designers, scroll on for everything you need to know about the style defining era….
1. Edie Sedgwick
The wealthy socialite, toast of the New York art scene and a certain Andy Warhol’s muse, Edie Sedgwick was the original IT girl. The essential ingredients of her good-girl-gone-bad aesthetic were lashings of eyeliner, chandelier earrings, mini mod dresses with sheer black tights and a crop of platinum hair – one day to be celebrated by Sienna Miller in the film Factory Girl.
No 1960s fashion round-up would be complete without Twiggy. One of the greatest beauty muses ever, Twiggy rose to supermodel fame thanks to her paint ’em on thick eyelashes and the boyish pixie crop that celebrity hairdresser Leonard chopped for her in 1966. Almost overnight she became the face of the decade – instantly recognisable, she’s been immortalised on everything from Andy Warhol screen prints to Marks and Spencer shopping bags.
3. Anita Pallenberg
The biggest style influence on the Rolling Stones, archetypal rock chick Anita Pallenberg also just happened to have flings with half the band members. Her quintessential rock chick look of thigh-high boots, fringing and skin-tight prints still serves as a source of inspiration for the band and all our wardrobes.
4. Mary Quant
Not only was Mary Quant a style icon in her own right, she brought the era’s greatest trends to the wardrobes of the masses from her shop on the King’s Road. The mini-skirt, hot pants, coloured tights and plastic macs – we owe them all to design pioneer Quant.
5. Jackie Onassis
Before Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron, there was Jackie Onassis. The original fashionable First Lady managed to maintain her impeccable style throughout her time in the White House, even as she lived through tragedy. Jackie’s prim skirt suits, pillbox hats and super-sized dark glasses made her the style inspiration for women across America.
6. Audrey Hepburn
How do we love Audrey Heburn’s 1960s style? Let us count the ways… First it was that 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany’s LBD, teamed with movie star shades and top-handle bag which won over our hearts. Then came the off-duty style game – a champion of chic capri pants and ballet pumps. Oh Audrey…
7. Ursula Andress
One of the most iconic movie moments of all time (certainly the most memorable swimsuit moments ever) was Ursula Andress’ role in the 1961 Bond movie, Dr No. Stepping out of the Caribbean sea and into the fantasies of the world over, that knife belt was the perfect finishing touch.
8. Jean Shrimpton
In 1960, Jean Shrimpton brought the fashion world to a halt. Unlike the more voluptuous models of the 1950’s that came packaged with stiff aristocratic poses, this leggy British brunette broke the modelling mould entirely with her super slender frame. Jean paved the way for fellow free-spirited waifs such as Twiggy and Penelope Tree and eventually Kate Moss and co.
9. Dusty Springfield
Big eyes, big hair and an even bigger voice, Dusty Springfield rocked a blonde wig and a column dress like no other. Altogether now, ‘the only one who could ever reach me…’
10. Mia Farrow
The elfin crop was made famous by Mia Farrow in the late 1960s and still continues to inspire the hair world today. The Rosemary’s Baby star and former wife of Frank Sinatra was an icon of the era, always adding a playful touch to her looks and paving the way for the likes of Alexa Chung with her Peter Pan collar dresses and off-beat shoe pairings.
11. The Supremes
Long before Destiny’s Child made fashion and music collide, there was The Supremes. From all-sequin gowns to matching skirt suits (not to mention those incredible beehives) their impeccable matching style led the way for girl-groups and musicians the world over.
12. Raquel Welch
Pin-up Raquel Welch may be best-known for her fur bikini in the 1966 film One Million Years B.C, but off screen she worked an even more glamorous look, with pantsuits, Pucci prints, and sex kitten hair.
12. Tippi Hedren
Hitchcock heroine Tippi Hedren made one of the most famous roles in film history look effortlessly stylish and poised thanks to her neat blonde ‘do and ladylike skirt suits. Legendary costumier Edith Head was the woman behind her now-famous Birds looks, ensuring she was timelessly elegant and understatedly glamorous, even when running screaming from a flock of birds.
13. Jane Birkin
Trends come and go but we never tire of Jane Birkin’s style. The free-spirited Blow Up actress’s penchant for care-free classics and laissez-faire spirit earned her instant world recognition in the 60s while her gap-teeth and quirky French-meets-British dress sense charmed Serge Gainsbourg.
14. Patti Boyd
Patti Boyd’s enchanting modish style, flippy hair, and endless legs ensured she was the inspiration behind some of the greatest hits of the 60s. The former wife of both Eric Clapton and George Harrison was the quintessential sixties beauty and a favourite of Mary Quant. Quite the unsung style hero of the decade…
With her blunt bangs, kohl-rimmed eyes and love of outlandish prints and the widest of flared trousers, Cher was a certified 60s icon. The then other half of Sonny and Cher led the way with the bold and the daring, and launched the hippie look with cool Californian style.
16. Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono has never done colour. From her private wedding, to one of the most defining moments of the 60s – the John Lennon and Yoko Ono bed-in – the petite artist has championed a head-to-toe white aesthetic, making wide-brimmed hats and knee-high boots her signature accessories during this defining decade.
17. Marianne Faithful
With Mick Jagger arm candy and swinging mini dresses, Marianne Faithful’s style was one of the most desired of the 60s. Her love of over-sized sunglasses, the shortest of minis and full, choppy bangs all rounded off with a heavy rock‘ n’roll attitude are just some of reasons she helped inspire the Rolling Stones’ biggest hits including “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “Wild Horses,” and “I Got the Blues.”
18. The Ronettes
There were a million girl groups in the 60s but The Ronettes were by far the coolest and sexiest of the bunch. At the heart of their look was the standard-issue mascara-and-miniskirt uniform but taken to new extremes. Skirts were tight and eyeliner was flicked so high it disappeared into their bangs.
19. Jane Fonda
While off-screen Jane Fonda’s style was all-American-girl, on-screen she took the lead in the space-age cult-classic Barbarella and in doing so created one of the most iconic images of Sixties cinema.
20. Brigitte Bardot
The world-famous French bombshell’s style was unabashedly sexy. She made messy, piled-high up-dos the hair of choice, and every girl wanted a piece of her signature confidence.
21. Catherine Deneuve
Another chic French dresser, Catherine Deneuve shot to fame in the 1960s, marrying fashion photographer David Bailey and becoming the muse to Yves Saint Laurent. It was her role in Belle de Jour – where she played a prostitute by day and a frustrated housewife by night – that turned her into a bonafide icon, if only for the incredible clothes.
22. Nancy Sinatra
If ever a song – and singer – could symbolise the style of the era, it was Nancy Sinatra’s hit single These Boots Were Made For Walking. With her tousled blonde hair, shortest of mini dresses and ability to pull off a pair of knee-high boots with aplom – the song, and Nancy’s look was an emblem for the decade.
23. Paulene Stone
Former magazine cover girl Paulene Stone may not be as well-known as other models from the era but Paulene’s style was certainly what everyone wanted. The statuesque beauty embodied Swinging London more than any other, and her work with David Bailey is what the photographer has attributed to kicking off his career in 1960.
24. Marsha Hunt
Singer and novelist Marsha Hunt shot to fame when she played Dionne in the smash musical Hair and posed nude for the promotional images. Famed for her huge afro hairstyle, which provided one of the most iconic images of the 60s the former Marc Bolan and Rolling Stones muse is also renowned for her rock-chick-meets boho mix of daring leather hotpants and floaty, maxi dresses.
Shot by Avedon, Irving Penn and Helmut Newton, Veruschka is the splashy German model who landed her first major magazine cover in 1963. All legs, eyes and lips, she exuded sex and lead a new direction in 60s fashion by pioneering a new skinny chic ideal.
In many ways, Mary Quant was the pioneer of ‘fast fashion’. During the youthquake of the late 1950s, that paved the way for radical 60s fashion trends, Quant opened Bazaar, a boutique on the King’s Road, in 1955.
Famed for popularising, if not inventing, the miniskirt, the Welsh designer’s hallmarks were boxy silhouettes in strong colours. By 1963, Bazaar was so popular, she opened a second branch in Knightsbridge and soon launched the Ginger Group, a lower priced diffusion line which aimed to establish an even wider clientele.
Her legacy as an instrumental designer in championing the fun side of fashion endures to this day.
Barbara Hulanicki opened the doors to her cult Biba boutique in 1964. The shop was renowned for its decadent Art Nouveau interiors, and soon became a hip hangout for artists, actors and rock stars including Mick Jagger and David Bowie.
Known for her affordable velvet trouser suits and unisex T-shirts, the shop maintained steam until 1975 when it eventually shut it’s doors. After its closure, Hulanicki stepped away from the Biba label but, remained in the fashion industry working with brands such as Cacharel.
In 2009, Biba received a revival, courtesy of Topshop who marked the opening of its first New York store with a capsule collection dedicated to the label and defined by the billowing chiffon dresses and blouses popularised by the brand’s original designs. In the same year, House of Fraser bought the rights to the Biba label and five years later, Hulanicki agreed to return to consultant for the brand.